Individuals who are at risk or have tested positive for infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), or have developed AIDS which is caused by the HIV virus and impairs the function of the body's immune system leaving affected individuals vulnerable to illnesses that would not otherwise occur.
A condition in which the individual has an acquired hypersensitivity to substances that normally do not cause a reaction. Manifestations most commonly involve the respiratory tract or skin and include eczema, hay fever, bronchial asthma, hives, inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane and nasal discharge.
An age-related, non-reversible brain disorder that develops over a period of years. Initially, people experience memory loss and confusion, which may be mistaken for the kinds of memory changes that are sometimes associated with normal aging. The symptoms gradually lead to behaviour and personality changes, a decline in cognitive abilities such as decision-making and language skills and problems recognizing family and friends; and ultimately to a severe loss of mental function. Alzheimer's disease is one of a group of disorders called dementias that are characterized by cognitive and behavioural problems. It is the most common cause of dementia among people age 65 and older.
A syndrome, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, that is marked by muscular weakness and atrophy with spasticity and increased action of the reflexes due to degeneration of the motor neurons of the spinal cord, medulla and cortex.
A condition in which there is a beyond normal reduction in the number of circulating red blood cells, the amount of hemoglobin in the red blood cells, or the volume of packed red blood cells in the blood. Anemia may be caused by excessive blood loss, excessive blood cell destruction or decreased blood cell formation, and is characterized by weakness, vertigo, headaches, a sore tongue, drowsiness, pallor and general malaise.
An inflammatory condition affecting the joints which is usually accompanied by pain and, frequently, by changes in bone and muscle positioning.
A disorder of the bronchial system that is characterized by laboured breathing accompanied by wheezing that is caused by a spasm of the bronchial tubes or by swelling of their mucous membrane. Recurrence and severity of attacks is influenced by secondary factors, mental or physical fatigue, exposure to fumes, endocrine changes at various periods in life and emotional situations.
Acute or chronic problems involving the back, the muscles of the back or their attachments in the lower lumbar, lumbosacral or sacroiliac areas, or the vertebral column.
A condition in which people are unable or unwilling to control their bladder function and urinate involuntarily during the night or the day after an age where continence is expected. The condition may have pathological or functional causes or may be a voluntary act that is representative of a behaviour pattern.
An inability to retain feces that may be due to loss of sphincter control or cerebral or spinal lesions, or which may have causes not associated with an illness or organic defect. It is also associated with constipation, impaction and retention with subsequent overflow.
Any of a variety of conditions that are characterized by significant impairment of brain tissue and resultant loss of brain function including degenerative illnesses (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke and other cerebrovascular accidents), genetic variations or mutations that affect the development and functioning of the brain either in utero or following birth, traumatic brain injury, post infection damage, brain tumours, and permanent damage that occurs as a result of seizures, substance toxicity or other disorders as well as conditions affecting the brain that are present prior to birth.
Any of a broad group of malignant neoplasms which are either carcinomas which have their origin in epithelial tissues or sarcomas which develop from connective tissues and those structures which had their origin in mesodermal tissues (the muscular, skeletal, circulatory, lymphatic and urogenital systems and the linings of body cavities). Cancer is invasive and tends to metastasize to new sites spreading directly into surrounding tissues or through the lymphatic or circulatory systems.
An intestinal malabsorption syndrome that causes malnutrition and results in a wide variety of symptoms including abdominal pain and distention, diarrhea, constipation, anemia, bone and joint pain, depression and headaches.
A complex illness also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), chronic Epstein-Barr virus (CEBV), myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.) and "yuppie flu" that is characterized by incapacitating fatigue (experienced as exhaustion and extremely poor stamina), neurological problems, depression, anxiety, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, temporary memory loss, muscle aches and spasms, headaches, irritability, sore throat, sleep disturbances, fever and sensitivity to heat and light. The symptoms tend to wax and wane but are often severely debilitating and may last for many months or years.
The presence of excessive amounts of cholesterol in the blood.
A group of diseases that includes asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and bronchiectasis which involve obstruction of an individual's airflow. The conditions may be chronic and irreversible or reversible but recurrent.
Any of a variety of illnesses that are mild in nature and are generally short-lived.
A regional inflammation of the ileum or the intestines.
An inherited disease that affects the pancreas, respiratory system and sweat glands, which usually begins in infancy and is characterized by chronic respiratory infection, pancreatic insufficiency and heat intolerance. Prognosis is poor as there is no cure, but antibiotics have prolonged the life of many patients.
An acquired reduction in mental capacity that is characterized by impairment of memory, judgment and intellectual functioning which is often accompanied by behavioural disturbances.
Diseases or other pathological conditions of the teeth, gums or oral cavity.
A disorder in which the pancreas produces too little insulin with the result that the body is unable to adequately metabolize sugar. Principal symptoms are elevated blood sugar, sugar in the urine, excessive urine production and increased food intake. Complications of diabetes if left untreated include low resistance to infections leading to a susceptibility to gangrene, cardiovascular and kidney disorders, disturbances in the electrolyte balance and eye disorders, some of which may lead to blindness.
An inflammation of the intestinal tract, especially in the colon, which causes stagnation of feces in little distended sacs of the colon (diverticula) and pain. Acute problems may involve the formation of an abscess and finally gangrene accompanied by perforation.
A variety of congenital intellectual disability that is marked by sloping forehead, presence of epicanthal folds, gray or very light yellow spots at the periphery of the iris, short broad hands with a single palmar crease, a flat nose or absent bridge, low-set ears and generally dwarfed physique.
The condition of being abnormally small in stature which may be hereditary or a result of endocrine dysfunction, deficiency diseases, renal insufficiency or diseases of the skeleton.
A disorder that is characterized by distorted twisting or movement of all or a part of the body which may be caused by toxic or infectious diseases of the nervous system or be of unknown etiology.
An inherited disorder of the elastic connective tissue that is characterized by soft velvety skin that is fragile and hyperelastic and bruises easily; hyperextensibility of the joints; visceral malformations; atrophic scars; pseudotumours; and calcified subcutaneous cysts.
A genetically transmitted condition that is characterized by formation of deep-seated blisters on the skin that are filled with fluid. The blisters appear following rubbing or irritation.
A recurrent paroxysmal disorder of cerebral function that is characterized by sudden, brief interruptions in or complete loss of consciousness, motor activity and/or sensory phenomena. The seizures are caused by disruptions in the electrical and physiochemical activity of the brain.
Any of a variety of diseases or conditions that affect the skull, facial structure and features.
A continuum of permanent birth defects caused by maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, the effects of which can include physical problems and problems with behaviour and learning. A person with FASD might have abnormal facial features, small head size, shorter than average height, low body weight, poor coordination, hyperactivity, difficulty paying attention, poor memory, difficulty in school (especially with math), learning disabilities, speech and language delays, intellectual disability or low IQ, poor reasoning and judgment skills, sleep and sucking problems as a baby, vision and hearing problems and/or problems with the heart, kidneys or bones. Different terms are used to describe FASDs depending on the type of symptoms. Included are Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which represents the severe end of the FASD spectrum and is characterized by abnormal facial features, growth problems and central nervous system (CNS) problems; Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) which is characterized by intellectual disabilities and problems with behaviour and learning; and Alcohol Related Birth Defects (ARBD) which is characterized by problems with the heart, kidneys or bones and/or with hearing. Alcohol Related Birth Defects (ARBD) was previously known as Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE).
A condition that is characterized by chronic pain in tendons, ligaments and muscles surrounding joints. Other symptoms include muscle spasms, fatigue, stiffness, abnormal sleep patterns with unrefreshing sleep, headaches and, occasionally, depression. There is significant overlap with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFIDS) in which fibromyalgia may arise as a secondary disease process. The cause of the condition is unknown.
Any of a number of illnesses or conditions that are the direct result of the mutation of one or more genes. Some genetic disorders are hereditary, transmitted from parent to offspring, but others occur spontaneously and are not familial in origin.
Any of a variety of conditions in which individuals are shorter or taller than expected for their age and gender. Included are children who have experienced poor growth or rapid or excessive growth due to endocrine disorders, systemic diseases, congenital conditions, poor nutrition or other conditions; and people with normal growth patterns who happen to be exceptionally short or tall.
A rare form of damage to the peripheral nerves that causes weakness of the limbs that may lead to paralysis. The nerves become inflamed, particularly where their roots leave the spine, impairing both movement and sensation.
Any of a number of pathological conditions that affect the heart and the blood vessels of the heart.
A hereditary blood disease that affects males and is characterized by greatly prolonged coagulation time. The blood fails to clot and abnormal bleeding occurs. Hemophilia is a sex-linked hereditary trait which is transmitted by normal females who carry the recessive gene.
An inflammation of the liver caused by a variety of agents including viral infection (hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and delta agents), bacterial invasion and physical and chemical agents. Symptoms are fever, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, malaise, muscle and joint pain, headache, photophobia, cough followed by jaundice and an enlarged liver. Hepatitis A and delta agent hepatitis are spread primarily from person to person via the fecal-oral route, but may occur by contact with water or food contaminated by the virus. Hepatitis B and C are spread by blood and serum-derived fluids and by direct contact with body fluids.
Infants and children who are at risk for developmental delays or other problems because of congenital abnormalities; perinatal medical complications including anoxia, low birth weight, prematurity, respiratory distress syndrome, or metabolic or central nervous system disorders; medical problems that have their onset following birth; or environmental factors including elements of risk that relate to the mother (minimal education, lack of prenatal care, history of drug abuse, pregnancy when younger than age 18 or older than age 35, having a developmental disability, having a sexually transmitted disease) or lack of appropriate stimulation during infancy and early childhood due to neglect, poverty or social isolation.
An inherited disease of the central nervous system which usually has its onset in people age 25 to 55. The individual has progressive dementia with bizarre involuntary muscular twitching of the limbs or facial muscles. The posture is abnormal. The disease slowly progresses and death is usually due to an intercurrent infection.
A condition in which there is an increased accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the ventricles of the brain due to an interruption in the flow of the fluid which may have been caused by developmental anomalies, infection, injury or brain tumours. The condition results in enlargement of the skull and may cause damage to the brain.
A condition in which the patient has a higher blood pressure than normal. In general, if on several separate occasions the systolic pressure is above 140 or the diastolic is above 90, the person is considered to have elevated blood pressure.
A condition that is caused by excessive secretion of the thyroid glands which raises the basal metabolic rate causing an increased demand for food to support the metabolic activity. Symptoms include goiter, a fine tremor of the extended fingers and tongue, increased nervousness, weight loss, altered bowel activity, excessive sweating and increased heart rate.
A condition that is due to deficiency of the thyroid secretion which results in a lowered basal metabolism. Symptoms include obesity, low blood pressure, slow pulse, sluggishness of all functions, depressed motor activity and dry skin and hair, both of which become dull.
A condition that is characterized by the inability or diminished ability of one or both partners to produce children.
An acute, contagious respiratory infection that is characterized by sudden onset, high fever, chills, headache, muscle soreness, and sometimes prostration. Nasal discharge, cough and sore throat are also common; and stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, but are more often seen in children than adults. Most people recover from the flu in a few days to less than two weeks. People age 65 years and older, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children are more likely to get complications from influenza.
Any of a number of pathological conditions of the kidneys, the organs that are responsible for urination and for helping to regulate the water, electrolyte and acid-base content of the blood.
A chronic or acute disease of unknown etiological factors that is characterized by unrestrained growth of leukocytes (white blood corpuscles) and their precursors in the tissues. Leukemia is classified according to the dominant cell type and the severity of the disease.
A slowly progressive brain disorder that shares characteristics with both Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. The central feature of the condition is progressive cognitive decline, combined with three additional defining features: pronounced "fluctuations" in alertness and attention such as frequent drowsiness, lethargy, lengthy periods of time spent staring into space, or disorganized speech; recurrent visual hallucinations; and parkinsonian motor symptoms such as rigidity and the loss of spontaneous movement. People may also suffer from depression. The symptoms are caused by the build-up of Lewy bodies (accumulated deposits of alpha-synuclein protein) inside the nuclei of neurons in areas of the brain that control particular aspects of memory and motor control. There is no cure or definitive treatment for Lewy body dementia.
Any of a variety of disorders of the liver, the largest organ in the body which has a major role in a wide variety of vital metabolic functions.
Any of a variety of disorders of the lungs, pleural cavity, bronchial tubes, trachea, upper respiratory tract or the associated nerves and muscles that are responsible for breathing. Included are obstructive pulmonary diseases such as emphysema and asthma that involve narrowing or blockage of the airways which carry oxygen and other gases into and out of the lungs; restrictive lung diseases such as sarcoidosis and asbestosis that result in incomplete lung expansion and a reduction in the ability of the lungs to take up oxygen and release carbon dioxide; upper and lower respiratory tract infections; benign and malignant tumors affecting the lungs and associated tissue; and pulmonary vascular diseases such as pulmonary hypertension or pulmonary edema that affect pulmonary circulation.
Lupus, in its cutaneous form, is a chronic disease of unknown etiology which causes skin lesions on the face, neck and upper extremities. In its systemic form, lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease of the connective tissue, of unknown etiology which affects the skin, joints, kidneys, nervous system and mucous membranes. A characteristic butterfly rash may be present across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose.
A debilitating and painful disease of the nervous system and joints which sometimes leads to heart problems, meningitis and chronic arthritis. The disease is caused by the spirochete bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans by the bite of a tick.
An abnormal accumulation of lymph in the tissues which causes swelling of a limb.
Any of a variety of cancers that develop in the lymph system, a network of thin vessels and nodes throughout the body which filter the blood and help fight disease and infection. The site of the malignant transformation is usually a lymph node but may be the lymphatic tissue of the marrow, gastrointestinal tract, spleen, skin or other sites. The disease results from the uncontrolled growth and accumulation of malignant lymphocytes. Enlargement of affected lymph nodes is usually the principal manifestation.
An inherited condition of the connective tissues, bones, muscles, ligaments and skeletal structure whose symptoms include an irregular and unsteady gait and a tall, lean body type with long extremities including fingers and toes. There is abnormal joint flexibility, flat feet, stooped shoulders, dislocation of the optic lens, and a weakened aorta.
An inflammation of the membranes of the spinal cord or brain which may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Acute meningitis is marked by a moderate and irregular fever, loss of appetite, constipation, intense headache, intolerance to light and sound, contracted pupils, delirium, retraction of the head, convulsions and coma. Viral meningitis is generally less severe and may resolve itself without specific treatment whereas the bacterial form may be quite severe, can be transmitted to others and may result in brain damage, hearing loss and other long-term problems.
A group of diseases that are the result of failures of the mitochondria, cell organelles of rod or oval shape which contain the enzymes for the aerobic stages or cell respiration and thus are the sites of most ATP synthesis. Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. Diseases of the mitochondria most commonly affect children (though adult onset is increasingly common), and seem to cause most damage to cells of the brain, heart, liver, skeletal muscles, kidney and the endocrine and respiratory systems. Depending on the cells affected, symptoms may include loss of motor control, muscle weakness and pain, gastro-intestinal disorders, swallowing difficulties, poor growth, cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, respiratory complications, seizures, visual/hearing problems, lactic acidosis, developmental delays and susceptibility to infection.
A neoplastic disease that is characterized by the infiltration of bone and bone marrow by myeloma cells which form multiple tumour masses. The condition is usually progressive and generally fatal.
A chronic, slowly progressive disease of the central nervous system in which the myelin sheath which covers the nerves hardens, resulting in difficulties with muscle control, involuntary movements of the eyeballs, speech problems and tremor. Multiple sclerosis is marked by a history of remissions and exacerbations.
A group of genetic diseases that are characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement. There are many forms of muscular dystrophy, some noticeable at birth (congenital muscular dystrophy), others in adolescence (Becker MD), but the three most common types are Duchenne, facioscapulohumeral, and myotonic which differ in terms of pattern of inheritance, age of onset, rate of progression, and distribution of weakness. Duchenne MD primarily affects boys and is the result of mutations in the gene that regulates dystrophin, a protein involved in maintaining the integrity of muscle fibre. Onset is between three to five years and progresses rapidly. Most boys become unable to walk at age 12, and by age 20 have to use a respirator to breathe. Facioscapulohumeral MD appears in adolescence and causes progressive weakness in facial muscles and certain muscles in the arms and legs. It progresses slowly and can vary in symptoms from mild to disabling. Myotonic MD varies in the age of onset and is characterized by myotonia (prolonged muscle spasm) in the fingers and facial muscles; a floppy-footed, high-stepping gait; cataracts; cardiac abnormalities; and endocrine disturbances. Individuals with myotonic MD have long faces and drooping eyelids; men have frontal baldness.
A disease that is characterized by great muscular weakness (without atrophy) and progressive fatigability. It is due to functional abnormality, lack of acetylcholine or excess of cholinesterase which play an important role in the transmission of nerve impulses at synapses and myoneural junctions and ensure normal muscular contractions.
A genetic disorder that affects the cell growth of neural tissue and is characterized by tumours of various sizes on the peripheral nerves.
A condition, usually seen in people who are elderly, which is marked by increased porosity or weakness of the bones. The condition becomes apparent when the osteoporosis has progressed to the stage at which a bone fractures in a situation that would not normally damage the skeleton.
A condition in which the individual suffers from physical discomfort of various levels of intensity that arises from tissue damage.
An inflammation of the pancreas which may be acute or chronic. In the acute form, the gland usually returns to normal. In the chronic form, there is permanent damage to the structure and the functioning of the gland due to the formation of scar tissue.
Any of a variety of pathological conditions that are caused by organisms like protozoa, worms, ticks, fleas, lice, the microscopic mite Sarcoptes scabei which causes scabies or other parasites that live within, upon or at the expense of another organism, known as the host, without contributing to the survival of the host.
One of a group of conditions called motor system disorders which result from loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Symptoms of PD include tremor (trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face), rigidity (stiffness of the limbs and trunk); bradykinesia (slowness of movement) and postural instability (impaired balance and coordination). As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks. The disease usually affects people over the age of 50, can be difficult to diagnose accurately and may require brain scans or laboratory tests to rule out other conditions.
Individuals who have serious medical conditions that have persisted over a long period of time or are subject to frequent recurrences, are treatable but rarely cured completely and require persistent self-management behaviours. Chronic illnesses may be life-long in duration and/or progressive in nature; and many are marked by sudden flare-ups that can be caused by stress or other factors. Medicine and other treatments can often help people with chronic illness lead a normal life, although many require long-term care.
An inflammation of the gray matter of the spinal cord which often produces paralysis of the muscles that are controlled by the spinal nerves that were damaged by the illness.
A rare, incurable genetic disorder that is characterized by short stature; lack of muscle tone, size and strength; poor motor skills; underdeveloped or small genitals; an insatiable appetite that can lead to obesity if untreated; mild intellectual disabilities; and learning disabilities. Babies with PWS are usually floppy with poor muscle tone, and have trouble suckling. Boys may have undescended testicles. Other signs appear later.
Any of a number of complications during pregnancy or delivery which negatively affect the health of the mother or child.
A condition, usually affecting men age 30 to 50, that is characterized by an inflammation of the prostate gland. The condition may be acute, chronic or of bacterial origin.
A chronic condition affecting the sympathetic nervous system, often resulting from an injury or trauma such as a sprained ankle or broken leg, complications from surgery, infection, casting or splinting or heart attack, that is characterized by severe burning pain at the site of the injury, changes in skin temperature and texture, diminished motor function, muscle spasms, swelling of the joints, contraction of the tendons, softening of the bones and bone atrophy.
A neurological disorder that is characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move when at rest in an effort to relieve these feelings. RLS sensations are often described by people as burning, creeping, tugging, or like insects crawling inside the legs and range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful. The most distinctive aspect of the condition is that lying down and trying to relax activates the symptoms with the result that most people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Left untreated, the condition causes exhaustion and daytime fatigue, impaired memory, the inability to concentrate and difficulty with activities of daily living.
A chronic progressive disease involving the joints between auricular processes, costovertegral joints and sacroiliac joints which lie between the hipbones and the sacrum.
A chronic disease of unknown etiology which causes sclerosis or hardening of the skin and certain organs including the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, heart and kidneys.
Any of a variety of diseases that are acquired as a result of sexual activity with an individual who is infected.
Shingles (herpes zoster) is an acute infectious viral disease that is marked by inflammation of nerve tissue and eruption of herpetic blisters, usually on the trunk of the body along a peripheral nerve, but the face may also be involved. The pain, which can be quite severe, may persist after the rash heals for months, or, rarely, for years. The virus may cause meningitis, affect the optic nerve, or affect hearing. The herpes zoster virus is the chickenpox (varicella) virus that has remained in the nerves after recovery from chickenpox. It may be reactivated by the diminishing capacity of the immune system that comes with age or the physiological stress of disease.
Any of a variety of conditions in which the patient has difficulty falling or staying asleep, abnormal behaviours during sleep or trouble staying awake during the day.
A congenital defect in the walls of the spinal canal caused by lack of union between the laminae of the vertebrae. As a result of this deficiency, the membranes of the cord are pushed through the opening forming the spina bifida tumour.
Trauma or damage to the column of nervous tissue that extends from the medulla to the second lumbar vertebra in the spinal canal. All nerves to the trunk and limbs are issued from the spinal cord, and it is the centre of reflex action containing the conducting paths to and from the brain.
A sudden loss of consciousness followed by paralysis which is caused by hemorrhage into the brain, formulation of a blood clot or mass of undissolved matter in the blood that occludes an artery, or rupture of an extracerebral artery causing hemorrhaging in the membranes which enclose the brain and spinal cord.
The completely unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently well or virtually well infant.
Any of a variety of pathological or congenital conditions that make it difficult for the individual to swallow food normally. Symptoms include a lump in the throat, hoarseness, a sore throat, pain during swallowing, avoidance of specific foods or liquids and repeated attacks of pneumonia due to unconscious aspiration of food into the lungs.
A neurological movement disorder which begins when the individual is age two to 16 and is characterized by rapidly repetitive muscular movements called "tics" including rapid eye blinking, shoulder shrugging, head jerking, facial twitches or other torso/limb movements; and involuntary vocalizations including repeated sniffing, throat clearing, coughing, grunting, barking or shrieking.
A syndrome that is manifested by convulsive seizures, progressive mental disorder, benign sebaceous tumours on the face, and tumours of the kidneys and brain with projections into the cerebral ventricles.
A type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the large intestine (colon) and rectum. The disease usually begins in the rectal area and may eventually extend through the entire large intestine. Repeated swelling (inflammation) leads to thickening of the wall of the intestine and rectum with scar tissue. Death of colon tissue or severe infection may occur with severe disease. Symptoms include abdominal pain and cramping that generally disappear following a bowel movement, gurgling or other abdominal sounds, fever, rectal pain and weight loss.
A mosquito-borne infectious disease that causes mild, flu-like symptoms in healthy people and serious inflammations of the brain and spinal cord in people who are elderly or have compromised immune systems. The virus also affects birds and equines.
A syndrome that is characterized by intellectual disabilities, constriction of the aortic orifice at the cardiac base or narrowing of the aorta, an excessive amount of calcium in the blood on a transient basis during infancy and a face that has an elfin appearance.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.