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Acute exacerbation. A significant increase in the severity of the signs or symptoms of an illness.

Adenoids. Lymph tissue in the nasopharanx that helps fight infection. In children, adenoids can cause breathing difficulties, but they tend to shrink with age.

Antibiotics. A class of medications designed to treat bacterial and other infections only. They are not effective against viruses.

Antigen. A substance, usually organic, that can be recognized by the body’s immune system as foreign.

Alveoli. Tiny sacs budding off the small airways, where the oxygen from inhaled air enters your blood and carbon dioxide that your body produces is exhaled into the air.

Adenovirus. A class of viruses that cause colds and other respiratory infections. There are over fifty subtypes of adenovirus that can cause upper respiratory tract infections, including the common cold, sore throats, tonsillitis, ear infections, and conjunctivitis (pink eye).

Acute bronchitis. An acute irritation of the bronchial tree ( the tubes that carry air into your lungs)usually caused by infetion., When these tubes get infected, they swell and mucus forms, making it hard to breathe.

Asthma. A disease in which the airways become hyper-sensitive to allergens and other irritants in the air. Its symptoms include shortness of breath, cough and wheeze.

Aerobic bacteria. Bacteria that can grow and live only in the presence of oxygen.

Anaerobic bacteria. Bacteria that do not live or grow in the presence of oxygen. They thrive in dead tissue such as that deprived of adequate circulation.

Anti-viral drugs. These are medications attack viruses. Two antiviral drugs, amantadine and rimantadine are useful for treating influenza A, if given early after exposure to or following the onset of influenza.

Antibody. A protein, produced by cells of the immune system, which is designed to recognize, attach itself to and help remove a foreign invader Sometimes antibodies can contribute to disease. For example the antibody known as IgE can be produced in great excess and be responsible for allergy.

Antigen. Molecules associated with environmental and other agents such as pollen or animal dander, that induce the formation of antibodies because they are recognized as foreign by the immune system.

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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.

Bronchodilators. Medications such as beta 2 agonists and anticholinergic agents that relax the smooth muscle surrounding the airways. They are sometimes referred to as rescue medications because they provide rapid relief for airway obstuction.

Broad spectrum antibiotics. These are active against a wide number of bacteria, both Gram positive and Gram Negative. They are used to treat infectious diseases particularly when the infection is serious and the infecting bacteria is unknown.

Bronchi. The large airways in the lung. They can become inflamed and swollen during a cold or flu. The symptoms that such an inflammation produces is usually called bronchitis.

Bronchopneumonia. A lung infection characterized by acute inflammation of the walls of the bronchioles, or small airways.

Bradykinin. A hormone that is believed to play a role in inflammation.

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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.

Chest cold. Bronchitis or an irritation in the airways that is typically caused by a virus. It can last from days to weeks and symptoms may include cough with mucus, chest discomfort, fever and fatigue.

Chronic bronchitis. The bronchi or large airways of the lung are continually inflamed and clogged with excess mucus for extended periods of time. Typically the patient complains of cough and phlegm production for several months a year for two or more years. One of the classic forms of COPD. It is almost always a consequence of cigarette smoking.

Cilia. The microscopic hairs that line the airways and propel mucus through the respiratory system.

Columnar epithelial cells. The lining cells of the airways.

Community acquired pneumonia. A lung infection acquired outside of hospitals.

Connective tissue matrix. The cushioning material surrounding cells that is largely made up of the connective tissue collagen.

Corona virus. A family of viruses from the group that causes the common cold. It is so-named because its viruses generally have projections which give it a crown-like appearance under magnification. It is the agent responsible for SARS.

Coxsackie virus. These are enteroviruses, normally living in the gastrointestinal tract which cause a wide variety of human diseases including herpangina, a very severe form of sore throat as well as meningitis.

CT scan. Computerized tomography a specialized X-ray imaging test that can provide doctors with 3 dimensional information about organs and tissues.

Cytokines. Proteins produced by the body's white blood cells which help mobilize the body’s defenses, particularly white blood cells, against infection

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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.

DNAase. An enzyme that breaks down DNA.

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ENT Specialist. A physician who specializes in the ear, nose and throat (ENT).

Endoscopic sinus surgery. A surgical procedure in which a doctor inserts a fiberoptic intrument through the nose that allows the doctor to visualize the airways and passages in the head and neck. Surgery can also be performwed with this instrument.

Emphysema. A form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which causes damage to the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. In its later stages, the air sacs are unable to unable to fill with fresh air to ensure an adequate oxygen supply to the body.

Endogenous. Produced by the body.

Eosinophil. A type of white blood cell involved in allergic responses and asthma.

Epidemic. A large-scale outbreak.

Eustachian tubes. A drainage tube that connects the middle ear with the back of the throat.

Echinacea. An herb that is said to have immune-enhancing ability.

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Fomite. An inanimate object that is capable of transmitting infectious organisms from one individual to another such as a tissue or a pen.

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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.

Glomerulonephritis. A type of kidney disease caused by inflammation of the small filtering kidney structures (glomeruli).

Glomeruli. Kidney structures thatfilter the blood as it circulates through this organ.

Goblet cells. Mucus secreting cells found in the respiratory tract.

Gram strain. A widely used staining method of testing and identifying the staining properties of bacteria.

Guillian Barre. A syndrome characterized by the rapid onset of ascending weakness and often paralysis of the legs, arms, breathing muscles and face. It came to public attention briefly when it struck a number of people who received the 1976 Swine Flu vaccine.

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Haemophalus Influenza Type b (Hib). A bacterium that causes meningitis, respiratory and other serious infections.

Head cold. A common cold mainly affecting the mucous membranes of the nasal passages and characterized by congestion, headache, and sneezing.

Hemagglutinin antigens. One of two antigens on the surface of the flu virus. A flu virus looks like a ball studded with spikes. The spikes consist of two different proteins (antigens), hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, on the surface of the virus. When the virus attaches to a cell in a healthy person, these surface proteins stimulate the body's immune cells to produce antibodies to fight invading microbes.

Histamine 2 receptor antagonists, also known as H 2-blockers. Medications (such as Zantac or Pepcid) used to treat duodenal ulcers and prevent their return. In over-the-counter (OTC) strengths, these medicines are used to relieve and/or prevent heartburn, acid indigestion, and sour stomach. Controlling these symptoms may reduce the severity and frequency of asthma attacks.

Histamine. A substance produced in the body in response to exposure to an allergen which causes inflammation. Histmaine can trigger nasal and respiratory symptoms, itching and watery eyes associated with inflammation.

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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).

Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD). A general term that describe diseases that cause widespread inflammation of the lung that can lead to scarring.

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Larynx. The voice box.

Laryngitis. Inflammation of the larynx.

Leukotrienes. Chemicals (also known as mediators of inflammation) released during an allergic reaction that can cause allergy symptoms.

Lower airways (Lower Respiratory Tract). The smaller airways of the lung.

Lobar pneumonia. An inflammation or infection of that affects a lobe of a lung.

Lobe (of the Lung). A major anatomic division of the lung. The right lung has 3 lobes (upper, middle and lower), the left lung has two lobes (upper and lower).

Lymphocytes. A type of white blood cell that is key players in immune responses including the formation of antibodies.

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MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). A diagnostic test that can image various structures in the body without radiation.

Mucocilliary. Pertaining to or affecting the interaction of mucus and cilia (the hair-like projections on the epithelial of the airways mucous membrane.

Mycoplasma. A microbe that can cause walking pneumonia as well as a variety of human illnesses including respiratory infections particularly in young adults. Mycoplasma are very small simple organisms that are halfway between bacteria and viruses.

Myocardium. The heart muscle.

Meningitis. An inflammation or infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (also called pneumococcus).

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Nasopharaynx. Part of the upper airway including the nasal passages and the upper part of the throat (the pharynx).

Nasal polyps. Small, sac-like growths consisting of inflamed nasal mucosa.

Nasal lavage. Washing out the nasal and sinus passages with salt water to remove allergenic and irritant material (such as infected mucus).

Neuraminidase. This antigen on the surface of the flu virus serves as an enzyme that helps spread the influenzae virus. It breaks the bonds that hold new virus particles to the outside of an infected cell allowing it to detach itself from the cell. Once the enzyme breaks these bonds, the new viruses are set free and can infect other cells and thereby spread infection.

Neutrophils (Polymorphonuclear neutrophils or PMNs). These are white blood cells that form a primary defense against bacterial infection. They are produced in the bone marrow and circulate in the bloodstream.

Nosocomial pneumonia. A pneumonia (infection of the lung tissue) contracted during a hospital stay. Usually begins several days after entering the hospital.

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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.

Orbital cellulitis. An acute infection of the tissues immediately surrounding the eye.

Osteomyelitis. An acute or chronic bone infection usually caused by bacteria.

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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.

Pandemic. Worldwide, global epidemic or outbreak of an infectious disease.

Pathogenic. Disease-causing.

Pulse oximeter. A device that measures the amount of oxygen (saturation) in the blood.

Pleurisy. An inflammation or infection of the pleura, the lining of the lungs, with associated pain.

Pneumonia. An inflammation or infection of the lungs usually caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection.

Pneumococcus. A gram positive bacterium that is common cause of pneumonia.

Pharynx. The space and tissues in the alimentary canal that connects the mouth to the nasal passages.

Prostaglandin. Chemicals released during an inflammatory reaction that can cause allergic symptoms and fever.

Pulmonary embolism. A blood clot that travels through the blood stream and wedges in the arteries of the lung.

Polymorphonuclear (PMN) leukocytes. A type of white blood cells involved in defending the body against organisms and foreign substances.

Pharyngitis. An inflammation of the pharynx that frequently results in a sore throat.

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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).

Reye’s syndrome. A syndrome that involves brain damage (encephalopathy) and liver damage of an unknown cause. It is associated with the use of aspirin in children to treat chickenpox or influenza.

Reverse genetics. A procedure of molecular biology that begins with a cloned segment of genetic material (DNA) inserts this material into living cells and uses the transformed cells to manufacture cell products (such as insulin) or new cells (such as viruses). This method has been used to re-create the virus that caused the 1918 flu epidemic in order to study it.

RNA (ribonucleic acid). A single-stranded molecule composed of chemical building blocks, similar to DNA. Frequently found as the primary genetic material of viruses. In animal cells it serves many functions including transporting the information of nuclear DNA so that it an be translated into the manufacture of proteins.

RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus). A common virus that causes mild cold-like symptoms in adults and older healthy children. It can cause serious respiratory infections in young babies (especially those born prematurely, who have heart or lung disease, or who are immunocompromised).

Rhinovirus. One of the major viruses responsible for the common cold. Remodelling. A response to chronic inflammation of the airway walls that causes structural and can sometimes lead to permanent scarring and narrowing of the airways, resulting in chronic lung disease.

Rales. Wet, crackly lung noises heard through the stethoscope that indicate fluid in the small airways and tiny air sacs of the lungs and may be indicative of pneumonia. Rebound congestion. Congestion that occurs when nasal decongestant sprays are used frequently for 3 or more days.

Rheumatic fever. An inflammatory disease which can develop after an infection with streptococcus bacteria and can involve the heart, joints, skin, and brain.

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Second hand smoke. Smoke inhaled as a result of being in the presence of someone else's cigarette smoke.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). A serious form of pneumonia, with a high mortality resulting in acute respiratory distress and sometimes death. It was first described on February 26, 2003. The virus causing SARS is a CORONAVIRUs.

Septicemia. The presence of bacteria in the blood and often associated with severe disease.

Shock. A catastrophic loss of blood pressure frequently associated with very severe infections such as septicemia and the failure of many major organs, such as the kidneys and liver.

Smoker’s cough. Cough that results from smoking. Frequently associated with excess mucus production it mkay be a sign of chronic bronchitis.

Streptolysin. An enzyme produceded by Group A streptococcus that destroys red blood cells.

Streptococcus. An infection-causing gram positive bacteria that frequently grows in pairs or long chains.

Spirometry. A breathing test that records the amount of air that the lung can inhale and the speed at which that air can be exhaled.

Streptokinase. An enzyme produce by some Streptococcal bacteria that help these microbes invade infect tissue. These agents have been used as clot-busting (thrombolytic) drugs that dissolves blood clots that have formed in blood vessels.

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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.

Throat culture. A laboratory test done to isolate and identify organisms that may cause infection in the throat.

Trachea. Windpipe. Connects the larynx to the bronchi.

Transillumination. Technique of shining a light on the orbital bone so that the underlying sinus becomes illuminated and can be seen through the skin. If the sinus is filled with mucus the light does not shine through suggesting the presence of obstruction and infection.

Tonsils. Glandular tissue located on both sides of the throat. The tonsils trap bacteria and viruses entering through the nose and mouth and produce antibodies to help fight these infectious agents.

Turbinate. Shelf-like structures in the nose which warm and humidify inhaled air and trap particles that are inhaled. These particles are then moved by the mucociliary action on the airway suface to the mouth where they can be swallowed or spit out and to the adenoids, where foreign antigens can be identified and defenses mounted against them.

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Upper airways (Upper Respiratory Tract). The nose, mouth, throat, larynx, trachea and large airways (bronchi).

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Viral pneumonia. Inflammation of the lungs caused by a viral infection.

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Zinc gluconate. Supplements of the trace mineral zinc which are reported to help treat common cold and reduce its duration (examples are: Cold-Eeze and others).

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