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Glossary - B

Displaying glossary terms beginning with the letter B: 1 - 50 of 78 in total
B cell
White blood cells that come from bone marrow, and produce antibodies to fight off disease.
bacteria
Tiny single-celled organisms. Some bacteria cause disease, although most are harmless.
balance
Ability to maintain equilibrium while stationary or moving.
balloon angioplasty
A procedure to open clogged heart arteries. A surgeon inserts and inflates a tiny balloon. It widens the blocked artery then expands a small wire mesh tube to keep the artery open.
balloon dilation
A surgical procedure to open a narrowed vessel or tube, such as the urethra, esophagus, or artery. A small, deflated balloon is inserted into the area and inflated to widen it.
bariatric surgery
One of several types of weight loss surgery performed on people who are dangerously overweight, to restrict or reduce food intake and/or absorption.
barium study
An imaging test that allows doctors to see the inside of the esophagus and upper stomach. It involves swallowing a barium solution, which coats the esophagus and makes it possible for x-rays to see the inside of the intestine.
Barrett's esophagus
The abnormal growth of stomach or small intestine cells in the esophagus, resulting from damage caused by the reflux of stomach acid; occasionally may transform into cancer.
basal cell carcinoma
The most common skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma doesn't spread to internal organs.
basal ganglia
Clusters of nerve cells deep in the brain that play an important role in movement.
Related health topics: Stroke Overview
baseline EKG
An electrocardiogram (EKG) tracing taken in a healthy individual for later comparison to subsequent EKGs.
basilar artery
The artery that supplies blood to the cerebellum, the brainstem, and the back of the brain.
benign
Harmless; often used to refer to a tumor that is not cancerous and does not usually spread.
Related health topics: Prostate Cancer
benign orgasmic headache
A severe headache that occurs when orgasm is reached.
benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
A noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that obstructs the flow of urine.
benzodiazepines
Anti-anxiety medications that work by helping to maintain levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain.
bereavement
The period of grief and mourning after a death.
beriberi
A nervous system or heart disorder caused by lack of the vitamin thiamine (B1).
Bernstein test
A test to try to reproduce heartburn symptoms; used by doctors to diagnose GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
beta blockers
Medications that block epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine from attaching to certain parts of nerve cells known as beta receptors. Used to treat high blood pressure, heart rhythm problems, migraines, panic attacks, and other conditions.
beta carotene
A richly colored compound (red, yellow, or orange) found in many plants, fruits, and vegetables that the body can convert into vitamin A.
beta cells
Cells that make and secrete insulin; located in the islets of Langerhans of the pancreas.
beta-agonists
A medication that opens airways by relaxing the muscles around the airway; used to treat asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
beta-amyloid
An abnormal protein deposited in the brain in Alzheimer's disease.
beta-blockers
A class of drugs that slow the heartbeat, lessen the force of each contraction, and reduce the contraction of blood vessels in the heart, brain, and throughout the body by blocking the action of beta-adrenergic substances such as adrenaline (epinephrine) at the beta receptor. Beta blockers, also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, are used to treat many cardiovascular conditions, including abnormal heart rhythms, angina, and high blood pressure. They also improve survival after a heart attack.
bi-level positive airway pressure (bi-PAP)
A machine that helps people get more air into their lungs when sleeping by increasing the pressure or force of air when breathing in; often used to treat sleep apnea.
biguanides
Medications that stop the liver from making excess glucose (sugar) and improve sensitivity to insulin.
bile
A thick, yellow-green fluid produced by the liver that aids in digestion.
Related health topics: Liver Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer
bile acids
Fatty substances made by the gallbladder that aid in digestion.
binge drinking
Heavy bouts of drinking interspersed with periods of abstinence; often refers to the consumption of five or more alcoholic beverages within one day.
binocular vision
The ability of both eyes to focus on an object and form a single visual image.
Binswanger's dementia
A type of dementia caused when blood flow is interrupted to the white matter of the brain, which lies beneath the cerebral cortex.
bioavailability
How quickly and completely the body can absorb and use a nutrient.
biochanin A
A natural compound found in soybeans that may help prevent cancer from spreading. It is a type of flavonoid.
biochemical recurrence
Usually used regarding prostate cancer. It refers to a post-treatment increase in the level of prostate-specific antigen in the bloodstream, indicating that prostate cancer has recurred or spread following the original treatment. Also called biochemical failure.
biofeedback
An treatment that helps people learn to gain control over normally unconscious body functions, such as breathing and heart rates.
biological variability
Normal fluctuations over time in the levels of a substance being measured (such as cholesterol).
biomarker
A distinctive biological indicator of an event, process, or condition.
biopsy
The removal of a small piece of tissue from the body for examination under a microscope.
bisphosphonate
Medications, including alendronate and etidronate, used to prevent and treat osteoporosis by slowing the breakdown of bone.
Related health topics: Menopause And Perimenopause
blackout
An episode of temporary memory loss resulting from the ingestion of alcohol or other drugs.
bladder neck
Where the bladder and urethra meet.
blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery)
Cosmetic surgery to improve the appearance of droopy eyelids, by removing excess skin and fat.
blister
A small pocket of fluid that develops between the upper layers of skin; often caused by friction or burns.
blocking agent
Substance that prevents a biological activity or process.
blood alcohol concentration (BAC )
A measure of the amount of alcohol in the blood.
blood clot
A coagulated mass that occurs when blood cells stick together and form a solid.
blood pressure
The force blood exerts against the walls of the arteries. Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg.
blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test
A test that measures levels of urea in the blood to assess how well the kidneys are functioning.
Related health topics: End-Stage Renal Disease
blood vessels
Hollow tubes that transport blood throughout the body; includes arteries, veins, and capillaries.