Are you and your doctor speaking the same language?

HEALTH

Maria Trimarchi

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

While it may be nearly impossible to decipher their illegible handwriting, it is possible to crack the code of doctor-speak. Find out how good you are at translating what your doctor's saying.

Sutures, stitches and staples aren't all the same thing, although many people use the words interchangeably. Two of the terms are used for the same purpose, though. Which two?

Getting stitches is the procedure your doctor uses to close your wound. And the thread that's used in stitching up a wound, well that's where the sutures -- or staples -- come in.

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If a woman's uterus, for instance, is tilted forward (which is perfectly normal), it's called an "anteflexed" uterus. What's it called if the uterus is tilted backward?

The prefix "ante" indicates it's tilted toward the front of the body. A uterus that's tipped toward the back of the body (posteriorly) is called a "retro" flexed uterus.

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What's an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) used for?

An AED is a portable electronic device used by medical professionals to diagnose and treat heart rhythm problems such as quivering (instead of pumping) or irregular pumping. It shocks the heart back into its correct pattern.

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Which is not a part of your body's sensory system?

A little bit of a trick question: Your body's sensory system is made up of your ears, eyes, mouth, nose and the receptors in your skin, but not the skin itself.

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If your skin isn't part of the body's sensory system, in what system is it included?

Your skin is part of your body's integumentary system, which is made up of your hair, nails, glands in your skin and the skin itself.

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What assumption can you make if the root of a word is "cardi-"?

Medical terms are frequently made up of 3 parts: a root, a prefix and a suffix. Just as a cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in treating your heart, words that contain "cardi" have to do with your heart.

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The real name for your tailbone is "coccyx," which comes from the Greek word for what?

"Coccyx" comes from the Greek word for "cuckoo," because these bones look like the beak of a cuckoo bird, at least when you look from the side.

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If your doctor tells you your illness is "acute," how long can you expect it to last?

An acute condition is something that lasts no more than 6 months. Short-term conditions, like a broken bone, are acute. Alternatively, osteoporosis is a "chronic," or long-term, condtion.

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Is asthma an acute or chronic condition?

It depends what part you're talking about, actually, because it's both. Asthma is a chronic lung condition, but an asthma attack is an acute flare-up.

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What is GERD?

GERD, which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, is chronic heartburn.

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Each of these surgeries is considered "major surgery," except which?

What makes a surgery major or minor depends on a few things, including what part of the body is affected. Surgeries to the body's abdomen, chest, head (and neck) and pelvic cavity are considered major surgeries.

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Even if you don't know what procedure was performed, you can tell what type it was by the suffix. Procedures that end in "-plasty," for instance, are what type of surgery?

Procedures that end in "-plasty," such as arthroplasty (joint reconstruction) and rhinoplasty (nose reconstruction), are examples of surgical repair or reconstruction.

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If you're diagnosed with "squamous cell carcinoma," or "atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance," what are squamous cells?

These thin, flat cells look a lot like fish scales, and they cover a lot of your body. You can find them on the surface of your skin. Plus, they also line the digestive and respiratory tracts, as well as the hollow organs in your body (such as your stomach or colon).

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What does it tell you about the condition when the word describing it ends in "-algia"?

The suffix, "-algia," means pain, like neuralgia (nerve pain) and myalgia (muscle pain).

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What's the difference between the prefixes "hypo" and "hyper"?

"Hypo" and "hyper" are opposites. "Hypo" means something is below normal, like blood sugar. "Hyper" means something is above normal, such as an overactive thyroid gland.

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What's it called if you have too much fat (lipids) in your blood?

Because the prefix "hyper" means there's more than normal, whereas "hypo" means less, a high lipid level in your blood is called hyperlipidemia.

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"Thromb" (or "thrombo") is another word for what?

"Thromb," or "thrombo," means blood clot.

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Which glands help keep your skin moisturized?

The sebaceous glands in our skin produce an oily substance called sebum, which, secreted into our hair follicles, helps keep our skin and hair moisturized.

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Your doctor calls with test results, and says you have dysplasia. What does that mean?

Dysplasia means that you've developed abnormal cells in either tissue or an organ. It may or may not be a precancerous growth.

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Where would you find your "phalanges"?

Your phalanges are your toe bones.

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Where is your thorax?

The thorax is the part of your body between your neck and abdomen. It includes the thoracic cavity, which contains your heart and lungs. Lung cancer, for instance, is a type of thoracic cancer.

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What's another name for your thoracic cage?

Your thoracic cage is your rib cage.

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What's your cutaneous membrane?

The body's cutaneous membrane is its largest membrane: your skin.

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Both the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet are covered in a thin, clear layer of dead skin cells called what?

This clear layer of dead skin cells is called the stratum lucidum, and it's only on your palms and soles.

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Why does your doctor tell you to stop eating at least 8 hours before you have a scheduled procedure?

A curfew for when to stop eating before your surgery is to minimize the chance of hurting yourself if the contents of your stomach happened to be accidentally inhaled into your lungs (which is called aspiration).

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What does "idiopathic" mean in conditions like idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or idiopathic peripheral neuropathy?

"Idiopathic" conditions are those that have no discernible or definable cause. Also known as, no one knows what caused it.

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Which is not a way your doctor might call something "normal"?

If something is "within normal limits," is "unremarkable" or "negative," it means it's normal.

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What's the medical name for when your feet swell on long flights?

Sitting too long on a plane can cause fluid accumulation in your feet and ankles, known as edema.

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What's it called when something happens that wasn't supposed to happen, like a bad side effect to a new treatment?

When a medical treatment or procedure inadvertently causes a bad reaction, like hives from a newly-prescribed antibiotic, it's called an iatrogenic condition.

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You don't have any symptoms, but your strep test comes back positive. Your doctor says you're what?

If you test positive for an infection but you don't have any symptoms, you're considered asymptomatic.

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All of these except which is included in a (Complete Blood Count (CBC) test?

By ordering a CBC, your doctor will be able to get information and measures of various components of your blood, including your red and white blood cells, hematocrit, hemoglobi and platelets.

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What does it mean if you're "in remission"?

When your disease is "in remission," it's stopped progressing. It may return, or it may not, but it doesn't mean you're cured.

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What's the medical term for when you have two (or more) health conditions happening at the same time, such as type 2 diabetes and kidney disease?

Comorbidities are conditions that occur at the same time.

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What's the name for a normal, positive or neutral mood?

A non-depressed, non-manic neutral/positive mood is known as euthymia.

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What's it called when a patient unexpectedly wakes up during surgery?

The phenomenon when a patient wakes up from general anesthesia is called "accidental awareness during general anesthesia," or intraoperative recall.

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