Kids Corner: Medical Terminology
Sometimes listening to a doctor talk can sound pretty scary, especially when he uses words you don"t understand. Dr. Kelsch strives to help both parents and children understand what he is talking about when he uses medical terms. You might have heard some of the follow words while at the doctors office:
Adenoid: Lymphoid tissue located behind the nose.
Ankyloglossia: A foreshortened or tethered lingual frenulum commonly known as "tongue-tie" in which the tongue is tethered to the floor of mouth.
Audiogram: Hearing test.
Branchial: A term used to describe cysts or sinus tracts that are derived from indentations in the fetus. The word means pertaining to, or resembling, gills of a fish. There are typically four possible branchial anomalies in children that start up near the ear and end down near the collar bone.
Cerumen: Ear wax.
Cholesteatoma: Skin (epithelium) growing in areas it does not belong, can be destructive due to enzymes produced by the skin and pressure necrosis. Commonly used to refer to skin growing in the middle ear and mastoid, causing significant infection and erosion.
Cilia: Small hairs that move mucous in the nose, sinus and windpipe.
Cochlea: A spiral tube forming part of the inner ear, which is the essential organ of hearing. This tube is filled with tiny hair cells which help transmit sound into the brain.
Cochlear implant: a device consisting of an external microphone and speech processor that can allow a person to recover a portion of hearing that has been lost.
Culture: Growth of microorganisms or viruses for identification purposes.
Dermoid: A cyst which may be found associated with the nose, eyebrow or neck which sometimes has connections into the brain. This cyst and its possible tract are formed during fetal development.
Dysphagia: Difficulty swallowing.
Ear drum: A translucent, fibrous drum which separates the external ear canal from the middle ear and is directly attached to the ear bones (ossicles). This structure helps conduct sound waves to mechanical energy that results in stimulation of the inner ear.
Epiglottis: A small flap-like valve made of cartilage that closes over the voice box (larynx) during swallowing so that food goes down the esophagus.
Esophagus: Swallowing tube made of muscle that connects the throat with the stomach.
Ethmoid: Sinuses located between the eyes.
External otitis: Infection of the external ear canal commonly known as "swimmer’s ear."
Frontal: Sinuses located in the forehead, usually of differing sizes and different amounts of development.
Hyoid: A bone in the neck suspended between muscles that help produce the swallowing motion.
Incus: Middle ear bone between the malleus and the stapes, commonly referred to as the "anvil."
Laryngitis: a condition resulting from inflammation of the larynx; may cause loss of voice.
Laryngomalacia: A term used to describe floppiness of the valves over the voice box which creates a noise as the child breathes in which is usually high-pitched and is especially heard during feeding.
Larynx: A term used to identify the voice box which contains the vocal cords and structures which help produce sound. This structure also separates the airway from the breathing tube while swallowing by closing. Voice or other sounds are produced when the vocal cords meet in the middle.
Lymphadenopathy: Enlargement of lymph nodes usually associated with inflammation or infection, commonly known as "swollen glands."
Malleus: The ear bone that directly connects the other ossicles to the tympanic membrane, also commonly referred to as the "hammer" bone.
Maxillary: Sinuses located behind the cheeks.
Ossicle: A general term for any of the three ear bones.
Otitis Media: Infection of the middle ear.
Otolaryngology: A medical and surgical specialty concerned with the diagnosis, management, and treatment of diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT) and related structures of the head and neck, including the sinuses, larynx (voice box), oral cavity, and upper pharynx (mouth and throat). Subspecialty areas within otolaryngology include pediatric otolaryngology (children), otology/neurotology (ears, balance, and tinnitus), allergy, facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, head and neck, laryngology (throat), and rhinology (nose). Some otolaryngologists limit their practices to one or more of these seven areas. Otolaryngology is commonly called ENT. It is the oldest medical specialty in the US.
Otorrhea: Discharge from the ear.
Otosclerosis: A condition causing fixation of the ear bones in the middle ear typically involving the stapes or "stirrup" bone. This condition may involve the cochlea causing nerve hearing loss.
Palate: Roof of the mouth.
Parotid: One of the three major salivary glands that supply saliva to the mouth. These glands are located in front of the ears on both sides of the face and produce mucous that travels through a glands and empties into the mouth just opposite the upper teeth on each side. These glands swell up when a patient has viral infections (i.e. mumps).
Rhinitis: Inflammation of the nasal lining which can be caused by infection, allergies, foreign body, abnormal nerve input, or other inflammatory agents.
Sinusitis: Infection involving one or more of the sinuses.
Sphenoid: Sinuses located behind the nose.
Stapes: Smallest of the three middle ear bones that connect the tympanic membrane with the inner ear. Commonly referred to as the "stirrup" bone.
Stridor: A term used to describe noisy breathing associated with inflammation or narrowing of the voice box or breathing tube (trachea).
Thyroid: Organ in the neck surrounding the area of the windpipe where the voice box is located. This organ helps regulate metabolism. This gland requires iodine for production of hormones, thyroxine and Triiodothyronine. This gland also secretes calcitonin.
Tinnitus: a condition caused by an auditory disturbance that causes the affected person to hear a ringing in the ears.
Tonsil: Lymphoid tissue located in the back of the mouth.
Trachea: Windpipe, breathing tube, the structure that connects the back of the mouth with the lungs.
Tracheobronchial: relating to the trachea, through which air passes to and from the lungs, and the bronchus, the two air-passage tubes that connect with the lungs.
Tracheotomy: A temporary outside opening made through the neck into the breathing tube (trachea) in order to bypass the mouth and throat. Commonly used when significant obstruction exists above the level of the voice box.
Turbinate: Structure inside the nose that humidifies and filters air.
Tympanic membrane: Ear drum.
Tympanic membrane perforation: Hole in the ear drum.
Tympanoplasty: Repair of the ear drum using a patch usually made up of tissue taken from a nearby muscle.
Uvula: Small "punching bag" of muscle that hangs down in the back of the throat, helps close the mouth from the nose during speech.
Vocal cord nodules: Small thickenings or "calluses" found on vocal cord which produce hoarseness by allowing air to escape through the vocal cords during speech.
Now that you have read the definitions to these medical terms, you will be better prepared for your next visit.