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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)

    These are white blood cells that help other cells fight infection. CD4 cells are the main target of HIV infection. A CD4 count below 200 means a person has AIDS.

    This means when a needle is put into the body to take out some fluid.
  • CHD

    This means “Coronary Heart Disease”. This is a clog in the “pipes” where blood comes out of the heart. The “pipes” are called the coronary arteries.

    This means using drugs or vitamins to (1) prevent cancer in someone who is at risk of getting cancer; or (2) prevent cancer from coming back in someone who has been treated for the cancer.

    This is a part of your genes. They look like tiny threads inside each cell. They are in all the cells of your body. Genes make you who you are. You get them from your birth parents.

    This is when a sickness has no cure. It lasts a long time. Your doctor might be able to help you keep it from getting worse. People who have asthma or diabetes have chronic disease.

    This is a physical exam of the breast, underarm, and collarbone area, done by a health care provider, to check for lumps.

    This is a count of your blood cells. It includes separate counts of red and different types of white blood cells.