Glossary of Children's Hospital Terms

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

  • a.c. = before meals
  • ad lib: use as much as one desires
  • b.i.d. = twice a day
  • caps = capsules
  • da or daw = dispense as written
  • g (or gm or GM) = gram
  • gtt. = drops
  • h. = hour
  • mg = milligram
  • ml = milliliter
  • p.c. = after meals
  • p.o. = by mouth, orally 
  • p.r.n. = when necessary 
  • q.d. = once a day
  • q.i.d. = four times a day
  • q.h. = every hour
  • q.2h. = every 2 hours
  • q.4h. = every 4 hours
  • t.i.d. = three times a day
ADL or Activities of Daily Living: The things we normally do in daily living including any activity we perform for self-care such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, or grooming.   The ability or inability to perform ADLs can be used as a very practical measure of ability/disability in many disorders.

AGA or Appropriate for Gestational Age: A baby whose size, weight and development are appropriate for the length of the pregnancy.

AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome: The disease that results from infection by the HIV virus.

AMA or Against Medical Advice: To leave the hospital against medical advice.  A legal term releasing a physician from the liability of a patient leaving the hospital against the advice of a physician.

ANC or Absolute Neutrophil Count: Represents the total number of white cells that are capable of fighting bacterial infections.

ANS or Autonomic Nervous System: The part of the nervous system that works without conscious control.  The ANS controls glands, heart rate, skeletal muscle and smooth muscles such as those in the respiratory and digestive systems.

ARDS or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: In ARDS there is respiratory failure (the lungs stop functioning normally and mechanical ventilation is needed) with a sudden onset due to the rapid accumulation of fluid or toxins in the lungs and body.  This follows an abrupt increase in the fluid and plasma moving out of the blood stream and into the air sacs interfering with the exchange of oxygen.  ARDS is the most serious response to acute injury and the causes are very diverse. They include but are by no means limited to; aspiration (getting food or fluids down the wrong way), inhalation of a toxic substance such as smoke from a fire, widespread infection and near-drowning, 

ARF or Acute Respiratory Failure: Inability of the lungs to perform their basic task - gas exchange.  Lungs transfer oxygen from inhaled air into the blood and carbon dioxide from the blood into exhaled air.  Many different medical conditions can lead to respiratory failure.

Abscess: A local accumulation of pus anywhere in the body.

Acute Illness: A recent illness with rapid onset.
Acute otitis media:  inflammation of the middle ear. It typically causes fluid in the middle ear with signs or symptoms of ear infection: a bulging eardrum usually with pain; or a perforated eardrum, often with drainage of purulent material (pus).  Otitis media is the most frequent diagnosis in sick children in the U.S., especially affecting infants and preschoolers. Almost all children have one or more bouts of otitis media before age 6.

Adenovirus: A group of viruses responsible for a group of respiratory diseases (common cold, pneumonia, croup, bronchiolitis, and bronchitis), infections of the stomach and intestine (gastroenteritis), eyes (conjunctivitis), bladder (cystitis), and rashes. Patients with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to severe complications of adenovirus infection.

Adhesion: The union of two opposing tissue surfaces (often in reference to the sides of a wound). Also refers to scar tissue strands that can form in the area of a previous operation, frequently after abdominal surgery.

Adverse effect: A harmful or abnormal result.

Adverse event: In pharmacology, an adverse event is any unexpected or dangerous reaction to a drug.
Aerosol: A fine mist or spray that contains tiny particles. A medication can be aerosolized by a nebulizer and inhaled as a form of treatment.

Airway obstruction: Partial or complete blockage of the breathing tubes to the lungs. Obstruction of the airway can be due to different causes including foreign bodies such as coins, allergic reactions, infections, and injury.

Alopecia: Hair loss

Allergy: A misguided reaction to a foreign substance by the immune system-the body's system of defense against foreign invaders (pollens, dust mite, molds, dander, and certain foods or infections. The allergic reaction is misguided because these foreign substances or triggers (allergens) are usually otherwise harmless, such as cow’s milk protein or penicillin.

Ambu bag and Mask: A piece of equipment consisting of a rubber bag and face mask which, when squeezed by hand, fills the lungs with oxygen and assists breathing.

Analgesia: The inability to feel pain

Analgesic: A drug that relieves pain

Anemia: The condition of having less than the normal number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. The oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is therefore decreased.

Anesthesia: Loss of feeling or awareness. A local anesthetic causes loss of feeling in a part of the body. A general anesthetic puts the person to sleep.

Antibodies: (also called immunoglobulins) Protein substances in the blood stream that are produced by the body in response to bacteria, viruses and other materials foreign to the body.  Antibodies attach to the invaders causing them to be destroyed by other immune system cells.  There are five specific types of antibodies.  See immunoglobulins

Anoxia: a severe lack of oxygen to the body & brain.

Antibiotics/Antimicrobials: Drugs that either destroy microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) or slow their growth. These drugs are used in treating infections.

Anticoagulant: Any agent used to prevent the formation of blood clots.

Anticonvulsant: A medication used to control (prevent) seizures (convulsions) or stop an ongoing series of seizures.

Antigen: A chemical recognized by the body's immune system as being foreign and against which it will form antibodies.

Anti-reflux surgery (fundoplication): A surgical technique that strengthens the barrier to acid reflux (acid coming back up from the stomach) when the lower esophageal sphincter does not work normally and there is gastro-esophageal reflux.

Apnea: A term used to describe the absence or prolonged pause in breathing
Apnea monitor: A device that monitors breathing patterns through electrode patches placed on the chest.  The machine alarms if the time between breaths becomes too long.

Arrhythmia (or dysrythmia): lack of effective heart rhythm/heartbeat; out of rhythm - the heart is beating too fast, too slowly, or irregularly.

Arterial Catheter (A-Line): A special catheter (plastic tube) that is placed in an artery and used to check blood pressure and draw blood samples.

Aspiration: Occurs when a solid or liquid material enters the lung passages.  It can also refer to a procedure done by a physician to remove fluids or materials through a needle or tube in an abscess.
Assessment: A periodic examination of your child by the physician, nurse or respiratory therapist or other professional.

Asthma:  A common disorder in which chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes (bronchi) makes them swell, narrowing the airways and making it difficult to breathe. Asthma involves only the bronchial tubes and does not affect the air sacs or the lung tissue itself.  Airway narrowing in asthma is due to three major processes acting on the bronchi: inflammation (see above), spasm (bronchospasm), and hyperactivity (over-reaction or allergy to some substance)

Atelectasis: Partial or complete collapse of a previously expanded lung due to loss of air in air sacs.  Contrast: pneumothorax.