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a-amylase Enzymes which hydrolyses starch, a-amylases found in animals, 6-amylases found in plants.

a-fucosidase Enzyme which metabolises fucose, a mucopolysaccharide present in blood group substances and human milk.

a-galactosidase Enzyme which catalyses the metabolism of galactosides.

Acetazolamide Carbonic anhydrase inhibitor. Used as an anti-epileptic and to treat glaucoma. Has antidiuretic properties.

Acetaminophen Also known as Paracetamol.

Acetylsalicylic acid Also known as Aspirin. Achalasia Failure of muscles to react. Often refers to discordant oesophageal peristalsis leading to swallowing disorders.

Achlorhydria Absence of hydrochloric acid in the lumen of the stomach.

Acid phosphatase One of a group of enzymes which catalyse the hydrolysis of phosphoric acid esters. Acid phosphatase has an optimum pH of between 4.0 and 5.4. Present in kidney, serum, semen and prostate gland. It is associated with resorption of bone and teeth.

Acute myeloid leukaemia Malignant disease of leucopoietic tissue i.e. tissue which produces white blood cells.

Adrenocorticosteroids. A group of hormones secreted by the adrenal cortex. See also steroids.

Aerosol A dispersion of solid or liquid particles in a gas stream.

Air embolism A bubble or bolus of gas in the bloodstream. A sufficiently large embolism can be fatal.

Albumin One of the major serum proteins.

Albuterol See salbutamol.

Aldehyde dehydrogenase This enzyme catalyses the conversion of primary aldehydes to the corresponding carboxylic acid.

Aldolase Enzyme present in skeletal and heart muscle and liver. Converts glycogen to lactic acid.

Aldosterone Mineralocorticoid hormone secreted by the adrenal cortex. Regulates metabolism of sodium, chloride and potassium.

Alizapride A prokinetic agent. Synchronises and accelerated disturbed motility of the gut.

Alkaline phosphatase Phosphatase with an optimum pH of 9. Its function is in the mineralization of bone.

Alkaline tide Occurrence of alkaline urine during gastric digestion.

Alkanes Any saturated aliphatic hydrocarbon with the general formula CnH2n+2. Also called paraffins.

Alveolar-capillary membrane The one cell thick membrane through which gaseous exchange occurs in the lung.

Alzheimers disease A chronic, organic mental disorder characterised by presenile dementia.

Amberlite resin Trade name for a series of polyelectrolyte ion-exchange resins widely used for chromatography.

Amenorrhoea Absence or suppression of menstruation.

Aminophylline A mixture of theophylline and ethylenediamine used in acute asthma.

Aminosalicyclic acid An anti-tuberculosis drug.

Amitryptiline An antidepressant drug.

Amoxycillin A semi-synthetic penicillin.

Amylase A class of enzymes that split or hydrolyse starch.

Amylopectin The insoluble component of starch.

Amylose A groups of carbohydrates that includes starch cellulose and dextrin.

Anaerobes Able to live without oxygen.

Anaesthetics Drugs which reduce or eliminate certain sensory functions.

Angina pectoris Severe pain and a sensation of constriction of the heart. Caused by deficiency of oxygen to heart muscle.

Angiotensin A vasopressin substance produced when renin is released from the kidney.

Anorexia nervosa Psychiatric disorder with a fear of becoming obese. Weight loss may be extreme.

Anthracene An aromatic molecule consisting of 3 fused benzene rings. It is strongly carcinogenic.

Anthraquinones A class of laxative agents.

Anti-reflux agents Agents which react with gastric acid to form a floating foam on the gastric contents. These suppress gastro-oesophageal reflux.

Antibiotics A variety of natural and synthetic substances which destroy microorganisms.

Anticonvulsants An agent which prevents or relieves convulsions.

Antiemetics Agent which relieves or prevents nausea and vomiting.

Antigens A protein marker on the surface of a cell which identifies type of cell and whether it is "self" or "non-self".

Antihistamines Agents which oppose the effect of histamine.

Antihypertensives Agents which control or reduce high blood pressure.

Antimicrobials Destructive to or preventing the development of microorgamisms.

Antipyrine An analgesic and antipyretic drug.

Antisense oligonucleotide An oligonucleotide complementary to a specific gene sequence which binds to mRNA and prevents transcription.

Antivirals Opposing the actions of a virus.

Appendices epiploicae Pouches of peritoneum. Filled with fat and attached to the colon.

Appendix A short blind pouch arising near the junction of the small and large intestines.

Aqueous humor Transparent liquid contained in the anterior and posterior chambers of the eye.

Arachidonic acid An essential fatty acid formed from unsaturated acids of plants. It is a precursor of prostaglandins.

Arachis oil Ground-nut or peanut oil. Used as a faecal softener.

Areolar relating to the areola, which is a small space or cavity in tissue. Areolar tissue—loose connective tissue which occupies the interspaces of the body.

Aspirin Acetylsalicylic acid. A derivative of salicylic acid. A widely used analgesic and anti-pyretic.

Asthma Disease which causes increased responses of the tracheobronchial tree to various substances. The result is constriction of the airways.

Atopy Genetic predisposition to hypersensitivity or allergic reaction. Hayfever and asthma are common inherited allergies.

Atropine Alkaloid obtained from bella donna. It is a parasympathetic agent.

Auerbach plexus A plexus of sympathetic nerve fibres located between the circular and longitudinal layers of the stomach and small intestine.

Azelastine Topical preparations of an antihistamine used to treat seasonal allergic conjunctivitis.

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Blood Pressure Health

Blood Pressure Health

Your heart pumps blood throughout your body using a network of tubing called arteries and capillaries which return the blood back to your heart via your veins. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart beats.Learn more...

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