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Glossary A-Z

Anabolic/Androgenic Steroids – man-made variations of the male sex hormone testosterone, treated to fix hormonal issues such as delayed puberty

Anorexia – loss of appetite; a common symptom of COVID-19

Arrhythmia – an irregularity in the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. Bradyarrhythmia is when the heart beats too slowly (less than 60 beats per minute); tachyarrhythmia is when the heart beats too quickly (more than 100 beats per minute). Not all arrhythmias are serious, but uncontrolled irregularities in heart rhythm can lead to dangerous consequences like cardiac arrest.

Azithromycin – an antibiotic used to treat bacterial diseases of the ears, lungs, skin, throat, sinuses, and reproductive organs

Bronchospasm – when the airways go into spasm and contract, making it hard to breathe causing wheezing and/or frequent coughing; occurs as a result of respiratory diseases and inflammation, allergic reaction, or irritation of the airways

Census – an official count of a population, typically recording various details of individuals

Chilblains – the painful inflammation of small skin blood vessels that occurs in response to repeated exposure to cold, not freezing, air. Can cause itching, red patches, swelling, and blistering on hands and feet.

Clinical Course – the development of disease in a patient, including the sequence and speed of the stages and forms they take; one study cited by the CDC reported that 97.5% of persons infected with COVID-19 who develop symptoms will do so within 11.5 days of infection

Clinical Trial – Trials to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of medications or medical devices, like a vaccine, by monitoring their effects on large groups of people

Clinician – doctor, nurse, or respiratory therapist

Coronavirus – Any group of RNA viruses that cause a variety of diseases in humans and other animals

Corticosteroids – a class of drug that lowers inflammation and measures immune system activity in the body

COVID-19 – additional names/terms: Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, 2019 novel coronavirus; an extremely transmissible respiratory disease first reported by officials in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019

Epidemic: Sudden increase in cases of a disease.

Epidemiology:  Study of disease and other health outcomes, their causes in a population, and how they can be controlled.

Generic Medications – Medications that contain the same chemical substances as a drug that was originally protected by a chemical patent

Hallmark – a medical term that is considered a symptom or sign that is almost always present in a particular condition; for example, fever is very often associated with COVID-19 but it is not ALWAYS present. Also, fever can be present in many illnesses other than COVID-19. One symptom that does seem specific to COVID-19 is loss of taste and smell. This, too, does not happen in every person with COVID-19 but when present, there is a good chance that you have the virus.

Hydroxychloroquine – a class of drugs called antimalarials, commonly used to combat malaria, arthritis, and lupus by decreasing the activity of the immune system; The US had issued an emergency use of hydroxychloroquine, but withdrew it after a new study proved it was not effective in treating COVID-19

Iatrogenic – an impairment to one’s health (a disease, complication, or ill effect) caused by medical activity or treatment

Immunity – a condition of being able to resist a particular disease

Lupus – Autoimmune diseases that occurs when the body attacks its own organs; can affect many different body systems through inflammation

Mechanical Ventilator – a machine that helps a patient breathe; the patient is connected to the ventilator with a hollow tube that goes into their mouth and down into their main airway or trachea.

Metastatic Disease – when a pathogen spreads from the initial site to a different site in the host’s body; if a patient has breast cancer which spreads to the liver, this is diagnosed as metastatic liver cancer; metastatic cancer is linked to immunosuppression and worse outcomes of COVID-19

Myalgias – muscle/body aches and pains; common symptom of COVID-19

Nasopharyngeal swab – A type of swab collected by inserting a flexible swab into a nostril along the septum until resistance is felt; this process is often described as uncomfortable by patients but is necessary for accurate testing

Noxious – harmful, poisonous, or very unpleasant

Oropharyngeal swab – A type of swab collected from the back of a patient’s throat in the tonsil area used as a COVID-19 testing method

Outbreak: A higher-­than-expected number of occurrences of disease in a specific location and time.

Pandemic – occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population

Pernio – see chilblains

Personal Protective Equipment or PPE – equipment worn to decrease exposure to hazards that cause illness or injury. These include masks, gloves, gowns, goggles or eye protection, etc. The type of PPE needed depends on the type of the hazard and the type of exposure in a given situation. Currently (as of July 1, 2020), the CDC recommends that patients with confirmed or possible SARS-CoV-2 infection wear a facemask when being evaluated medically to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Post-viral syndrome – lingering tiredness or weakness experienced after fighting an infection

Randomized – in an unpredictably or unsystematically arrangement

SARS-CoV-2 – severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. This is the scientific term for the strain of coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Sedative – a drug taken for its calming or sleep-inducing effect

Self-quarantine – To refrain from any contact with other individuals for an extended period of time during an outbreak of a contagious disease

Sequelae – conditions that occur as a consequence of a previous disease or injury

Steroids – Chemicals, often hormones, that the body produces for natural cell processes; can also refer to man-made medicines that can be categorized into corticosteroids and anabolic steroids.

Ubiquitous – present everywhere

Ventilator –  a machine that provides mechanical ventilation by moving breathable air into and out of the lungs

Zoonotic – an infection or disease that is transmissible from other animals to humans naturally