Acute exacerbation. A significant increase in the severity of the signs or symptoms of an illness.
Blood culture. A blood test that is done when serious infection is suspected. It can identify bacteria or fungi that are spreading through the bloodstream.
Cavernous sinus. A cavity at the base of the skull that contains venous channels, nerves, and other critical structures. Infections of this space can cause disastrous consequences.
DNA. Genetic material within a cell also known as desoxyribonucleic acid. In areas of infections, white blood cells break down in great numbers, releasing their DNA and forming a very viscous pussy material that can bl;ock passages such as the airways.
ENT Specialist. A physician who specializes in the ear, nose and throat (ENT).
G.E.R.D. or Gastroesophageal Refux Disease. Heartburn. Frequently associated with asdthma symptoms because refluxed acid can find its way to the upper and lower respiratory tract.
Haemophalus Influenza Type b (Hib). A bacterium that causes meningitis, respiratory and other serious infections.
Interleukin. A group of proteins that the body produces in then setting of inflammation. They frequently are associated with attracting inflammatory cells like lymphocytes and polymorphonuclear (PMN) leukocytes (white blood cells).
Larynx. The voice box.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). A diagnostic test that can image various structures in the body without radiation.
Nasopharaynx. Part of the upper airway including the nasal passages and the upper part of the throat (the pharynx).
Opacified sinus. Clouded sinus cavity, found in the bones of the skull. While the normal sinus appears black on a sinus X-ray, the opacified sinus appears white indicating that it is filled with fluid.
Pack-years. This is a way of standardizing the amount of cigarettes a person has smoked. It is the average number of cigarettes that a person has smoked multiplied by the number of years they have smoked.. For example, if a person smokes on average two packs of cigarettes daily for five years, that person has 10 pack-years of smoking.
Rapid antigen test. A quick test using body fluids to identify antigens associated with specific infections (frequently used in the rapid identification of Strep throat).
Second hand smoke. Smoke inhaled as a result of being in the presence of someone else's cigarette smoke.
Theophylline. Medication used to prevent and treat wheezing, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing caused by asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema. It relaxes and opens air passages in the lungs, making it easier to breathe.