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Glossary

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D

  • depression

    A mental state associated with acute sadness. Activity can be decreased, especially interaction with others, and sleep, appetite, and concentration can also be disturbed.

  • dermatome

    an instrument for cutting thin skin slices for grafting

  • dewar flask

    a double-walled flask of metal or silvered glass with a vacuum between the walls, used to hold liquids at well below ambient temperature, named after Sir James Dewar (1842–1923), Scottish chemist and physicist.

  • diabetes

    This term refers to any form of metabolic disorder characterized by extreme thirst and excess urine production.

  • diagnostic figure

    A carved figure used by women to indicate their symptoms in an age when it was considered improper for a male doctor to examine female patients.

  • diagnostic tool

    Any range of medical instruments used to diagnose illness.

  • diaphragm

    A barrier form of contraception. It consists of a dome-shaped latex or silicone disc with a flexible rim that covers the cervix. In combination with a spermicide it blocks sperm from entering the uterus and thereby prevents fertilisation. Popular since the late 1800s, their use has considerably reduced in recent years.

  • diarrhoea

    Frequent movement of the bowels, commonly in liquid form.

  • digestion

    The process in which food passes through the stomach and intestines and is converted into products that can be absorbed into the blood.

  • digitalin

    Any plant from the Digitalis genus. Its dried leaves and seeds are used to treat some forms of heart failure. Its acts by stimulating the nervous system.

  • digoxin

    A drug extracted from the digitalis plants, specifically the Foxglove, used to treat heart failure. It heightens heart muscle contraction and decreases the heart rate. The line between therapeutic and toxic dose is fine.

  • dilation

    Enlargement or expansion of a body part

  • dilator

    An instrument for expanding something or a part of something. In surgery this is often a passageway or an organ.

  • diorama

    A model with three-dimensional objects, often sculpture, with a realistic painted background.

  • diphtheria

    An acute highly contagious infection, generally affecting the throat but occasionally other mucous membranes and the skin. Diphtheria has been largely eradicated due to world-wide vaccination efforts.

  • diphtheria test

    trial term S&H

  • disease

    An alteration in the normal condition of a body part, organ or system of an individual, interrupting the performance of vital functions. This can result from various causes. Each disease is characterized by an identifiable group of symptoms.

  • diseases of affluence

    A phrase that refers to diseases that are considered to be a result of increasing wealth within a society. Unlike diseases of poverty, they tend to be non-infectious and include coronary heart disease, type-2 diabetes, certain cancers and clinical conditions such as obesity. However, as habits change within a society, strict definitions of what are diseases of affluence often change.

  • diseases of old age

    Refers to a group of diseases whose appearance is more common in older people and therefore on the increase in societies where individuals are living longer. Examples include arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis. The treatment and care of older people is known as geriatric medicine.

  • diseases of poverty

    A phrase that refers to diseases that are seen to be more common in conditions of poverty. They are often contagious and can be associated with overcrowding, malnutrition or environmental and industrial factors. Three major diseases of poverty are AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

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