totalhealth Medical Terms Dictionary » H

Medical terms and words can be alarming and can make understanding your condition difficult. Your doctor may have given you a diagnosis you do not understand or are unsure about.

At totalhealth we are committed to the aim of helping everyone to take control of their own health and treatment choices; for this reason we have compiled a comprehensive medical terms dictionary that we hope will be of real assistance.

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  • H. pyloriHelicobacter pylori - bacteria that can colonise the stomach under certain conditions and raise normal levels of acid.
  • haemangiomaA benign tumour or swelling of blood vessels, often appearing on the skin as a birthmark.
  • haemarthrosisBleeding into joint spaces.
  • haemarthrosisBleeding into a joint.
  • haematocoeleA swelling caused by blood collecting in a body cavity.
  • haematocritA blood test that measures the percentage of the volume of whole blood that is made up of red blood cells.
  • haematologistA doctor who specialises in caring for people with disorders of the blood.
  • haematoma<p> A collection of blood outside a blood vessel. It occurs when the wall of a blood vessel becomes damaged and blood leaks into surrounding tissue where it pools, such as in a bruise.</p>
  • haematuriaBlood in the urine.
  • haemo-oncologistA doctor who specialises in treating cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
  • haemochromatosisA condition where the body contains too much iron.
  • haemodialysisA treatment for renal failure in which the blood is filtered outside the body to remove toxic substances that would normally be processed by the kidneys
  • haemoglobinThe oxygen carrying pigment that is present in red blood cells.
  • haemolytic anaemiaA form of anaemia caused by premature destruction of red cells in the bloodstream.
  • haemopathologistA doctor who specialises in diagnosing diseases of the blood and bone marrow.
  • haemophiliaA hereditary disorder that causes very slow clotting of the blood, due to deficiency of a coagulation factor (either Factor VIII or Factor IX).
  • haemoptysisCoughing up blood, usually due to a severe infection of the respiratory tract
  • haemorrhageThe internal or external loss of blood from a blood vessel.
  • haemorrhoidSwollen blood vessel in the lining of the anus, also known as piles.
  • haemorrhoidsSwollen blood vessels around the anus, also known as piles.
  • haemorroidSwollen vein in the lining of the anus.
  • hairy cell leukaemiaA rare form of chronic leukaemia that occurs when too many abnormal white blood cells called B lymphocytes are produced. B lymphocytes have which have a hairy appearance under the microscope.
  • hairy tongueA harmless condition in which the tongue takes on a black or brown, furry appearance. It may be due to a disturbance of the normal mouth bacteria.
  • halitosisBad breath.
  • hallus valgusAn abnormal outward projection of the big toe that usually results in the formation of a bunion.
  • hand, foot and mouth diseaseA common childhood illness due to a viral infection that causes a raised temperature, sores in the mouth and a skin rash especially affecting the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It is not related to foot and mouth disease of cattle and other animals.
  • Hbhaemoglobin
  • HbA1cAn abbreviation for glycated haemoglobin, a measure of how well glucose levels have been controlled over the previous three months or so in a person with diabetes. It is expressed as a percentage.
  • HCGhuman chorionic gonadotrophin
  • HDL-cholesterolA substance that mainly exists to carry cholesterol from the circulation to the liver; commonly referred to as 'good cholesterol'.
  • heart attackThe death of a section of heart muscle caused by an interruption in its blood supply. Also called a myocardial infarction.
  • heart block An abnormally slow heart rate arising because of a problem with the electrical conduction system of the heart
  • heart failureFailure of the heart to pump adequately.
  • heavy metalsMetals that can accumulate in the body, with a detrimental effect on health.
  • Heller's myotomySurgery to ease the passage of food contents from the gullet, or oesophagus, to the stomach.
  • helminthsWorm-like parasites.
  • hemiplegiaAlso called hemiparesis. Paralysis of one side of the body.
  • Henoch-Schonlein purpuraInflammation of small blood vessels causing leakage of blood into the skin, joints, kidneys and intestines.
  • heparinA substance produced by the body, or given as medication, that reduces the likelihood of the blood to clot, coagulate.
  • hepaticRelating to the liver.
  • hepatitisInflammation to the liver with accompanying damage to liver cells.
  • hepatomegalyEnlarged liver occuring as a result of any liver disorder.
  • Herbenden's nodesSmall, fixed bumps on the fingers, usually at the last joint, which are a sign of osteoarthritis.
  • hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasiaA genetic disorder, also known as Osler-Weber-Rendu disease, in which there is a tendency to nosebleeds and sometimes bleeding in the intestines or lungs, along with small red spots or spidery lines on the skin due to enlarged capillaries.
  • hermaphroditism A condition in which reproductive organs of both sexes are present in the same individual, so a human is born with both ovarian and testicular tissue
  • herniaWhen part of an organ pushes through the wall of the body cavity that normally holds it. Hernias can develop in many different parts of the body.
  • herniationAn abnormal protrusion (sticking out) of tissue
  • herpanginaA disease caused by Coxsackie viruses causing painful mouth ulcers.
  • herpes gestationisA rare autoimmune disorder that affects women during pregnancy.
  • Herpes simplexThe virus responsible for cold sores and genital herpes
  • Herpes zoster An infection of the nerves supplying certain areas of the skin that is characterised by a painful rash.
  • Herpes zoster oticusA viral infection of the inner, middle and external ear.
  • herpeticAssociated with herpes viral infection.
  • hiatus herniaProtrusion of abdominal contents into the chest cavity through an abnormally large gap in the diaphragm
  • hidradenitisInflammation of sweat glands.
  • hidradenomaA benign tumour that originates in a sweat gland.
  • HIFUAn abbreviation for high intensity focused ultrasound, a relatively new method for treating cancer using focused ultrasound waves.
  • high-sensitivity C-reactive proteinA protein found in the blood. Raised levels indicate inflammation, and can be used to estimate a person's risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • hilar lymph nodesThe lymph nodes of the lungs.
  • Hirschsprung’s diseaseA congenital disorder in which the rectum and sometimes the lower part of the colon lack the cells that control the contractions of the intestines.
  • histiocytosis XA disease in which there is an excess of a type of immune cell called histocytes, leading to varied symptoms that may affect any part of the body.
  • HIVThe abbreviation for human immunodeficiency virus, which is the cause of AIDS.
  • HLAhuman leucocyte antigen
  • HLA B27Human leukocyte antigen B27, a protein present on the surface of white blood cells in some autoimmune diseases and sometimes in healthy individuals
  • HLAB27 testA laboratory test that is used to help strengthen or confirm a diagnosis of the spondoarthritides. It is not a definitive test but is used as one piece of evidence tohelp build up an overall picture.
  • homocysteineA type of amino acid (the building block of all proteins).
  • hookworman intestinal parasite.
  • hormoneA substance produced by a gland in one part of the body and carried by the blood to the organs or tissues where it has an effect.
  • hormone replacement therapyThe administration of female hormones in cases where they are not sufficiently produced by the body. Abbreviated to HRT.
  • hormone-refractoryUnresponsive to hormone therapy.
  • Horner's syndromeA group of physical signs affecting one side of the face that indicate nerve damage.
  • hostAn animal or plant that supports a parasite.
  • hostile cervical mucusA thick form of mucus that prevents the sperm from entering the cervix.
  • HPVAn abbreviation for human papilloma virus, a sexually transmitted virus that can cause genital warts and may also have a role in the development of various cancers.
  • HRTAbbreviation for hormone replacement therapy, the administration of female hormones in cases where they are not sufficiently produced by the body.
  • HSVHerpes simplex virus
  • Hughes syndromeAlso known as antiphospholipid syndrome. A type of autoimmune disease, caused by overactivity of the immune system. It is associated with thrombosis and, in women of childbearing age, recurrent miscarriage.
  • human leucocyte antigen testA blood test that detects antigens (a substance that can trigger an immune response) on white blood cells.
  • human papilloma virusA sexually transmitted virus that can cause genital warts and may also have a role in the development of various cancers.
  • Hutchinson's freckleA tan patch on the skin that grows slowly, and becomes mottled, dark, thick and nodular. It occurs chiefly during middle and old age.
  • HVShigh vaginal swab
  • hydatidiform moleA complication of pregnancy in which an abnormal fertilised egg implants in the uterus and grows multiple cysts - looking like a bunch of grapes - instead of a normal embryo. Occasionally it can develop into a rare type of cancer called choriocarcinoma.
  • HydroceleA build-up of fluid in the membranes surrounding the testicle.
  • hydrocephalusExcess levels of fluid within the brain.
  • hydrocoeleA soft, painless swelling in the scrotum caused by the space around a testicle filling with fluid. this may be caused by injury, infection or inflammation.
  • hydronephrosisSwollen kidneys as a result of an obstruction in the urinary tract.
  • hydrotherapyThe use of water in rehabilitation, for example, controlled exercises in swimming pools.
  • hymenThe thin membrane around the vaginal opening.
  • hyoscineAn anticholinergic drug.
  • hyperaldosteronismExcess secretion of the hormone aldosterone from the adrenal glands.
  • hypercalcaemiaan abnormally high level of calcium in the blood.
  • hypercalciuriaA condition whereby there are excessive amounts of calcium in the urine.
  • hypercholesterolaemiaHigh levels of cholesterol in the blood.
  • hyperemesis gravidarumExtreme nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, which may lead to dehydration, nutritional deficiency and poor pregnancy weight gain.
  • hypergammaglobulinaemiaIncreased blood levels of gamma globulin, usually associated with liver disease.
  • hyperglycaemiaA high level of glucose in the blood.
  • hyperhidrosisA condition that causes excessive sweating.
  • hyperlipidaemiaA metabolic disorder characterised by high levels of lipids in the blood.
  • hyperosmolar hyperglycaemiaAlso known as hyperosmolar non-ketotic state - a state of having very high levels of glucose in the blood, most commonly associated with type 2 diabetes.
  • hyperparathyroidismExcessive secretion of parathyroid hormone from the parathyroid glands.
  • hyperpituitarismThe excessive production of growth hormone.
  • hyperprolactinaemiaA condition involving excess levels of the hormone prolactin in the blood.
  • hypertensionHigh blood pressure.
  • hyperthryoidismThe overproduction of thyroid hormones by an overactive thyroid gland.
  • hypertrichosis lanuginosaA rare codition characterised by the rapid growth of long, fine hair, particularly around the eyebrows, forehead, ears and nose.
  • hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM)Inflammation of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) due to enlargement (hypertrophy) of the muscle in the wall of the left ventricle (the pumping chamber of the heart), obstructing blood flow
  • hypertrophic pulmonary osteoarthropathyA syndrome that affects some people with lung disease. It most often affects the bones of the ankles and wrists.
  • hypertrophyAn increase in the size of the tissue of an organ resulting from an increase in the size of its individual cells.
  • hyperuricosuriaA medical condition whereby there are excessive amounts of uric acid present in the urine.
  • hyperventilationA fast rate of breathing.
  • hypnosisA sleep-like state induced by a hypnotist.
  • hypnotherapyAny form of psychotherapy that uses hypnosis.
  • hypoPrefix suggesting a deficiency, lack of, or small size.
  • hypocalcaemiaAn abnormally low level of calcium in the blood. The most common cause is vitamin D deficiency.
  • hypoglycaemiaAn abnormally low level of glucose in the blood.
  • hypoglycaemiaLow blood glucose levels.
  • hypogonadismOveractivity of the testes that results in an over-production of hormones.
  • hypokalaemiaA deficiency of potassium in the blood.
  • hypomenorrhoeaLight or scanty menstrual periods.
  • hypoparathyroidismA rare endocrine disorder in which the parathyroid glands in the neck do not produce sufficient levels of parathyroid hormone.
  • hypopituitarismThe inability of the pituitary gland to produce sufficient hormones.
  • hypoproteinaemiaAn abnormally low level of protein in the blood.
  • hypoproteinaemiaA condition in which there is an abnormally low level of protein in the blood.
  • hypothalamusA region of the brain.
  • hypothyroidismUnderproduction of the thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland.
  • hypotoniaAbnormal muscle slackness.
  • hypoxaemia Reduced oxygen levels in the blood.
  • hypoxiaA lack of oxygen.
  • hysterectomyThe surgical removal of the uterus (womb).
  • hysteriaA general term encompassing a wide range of physical or mental symptoms attributed to mental stress.
  • hysterosalpingogramA test to discover whether the fallopian tubes are open and whether the shape of the uterine cavity is normal.
  • hysteroscopeA tube equipped with a light source and either a small camera or an optical system, used to examine the inside of the uterus (womb).
  • hysteroscopyExamination of the inside of the uterus by endoscopy, using an instrument called a hysteroscope inserted through the vagina and cervix.
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