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What Did My Doctor Say?

The special words doctors and nurses use can be hard to understand. You may see or hear these words at your doctor’s office, on the Internet, on the radio or TV, or in newspapers or magazines. We call these words “medspeak.” The Medical Library Association created this site to help you understand what a doctor or nurse tells you. You’ll find tips on how to understand many health words. The terms on this site were created with the help of the Working Group for Health Literacy, Massachusetts Health Sciences Library Network (MAHSLIN)
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  • WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS

    These are body changes such as shaking or sweating that you feel when you suddenly stop taking or using some kinds of drugs or alcohol.
  • X

    unknown factor
  • X CHROMOSOME

    This is the part of a gene that makes a baby a girl. Girls have two X chromosomes and boys have one X and one Y chromosome.
  • X-RAY

    This is a high-energy form of radiation used to take a very precise picture of a part of the body.
  • XENO

    This is part of a word. It means strange or foreign. Xenophobia means fear of strangers.
  • XER, XERO

    This is part of a word. It means dry. Xeroderma is dry skin.
  • Y CHROMOSOME

    This is the part of a gene that makes a baby a boy. Only boys have a Y chromosome.
  • ZOO

    This is part of a word. It means animals. Zoology means the study of animals.

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