Glossary

A

ACTH

Adreno-cortico-trophic hormone. The natural hormone ("steroid") secreted in the body.

Adrenal Gland

A pair of glands situated above the kidney, responsible for making steroids.

Agoraphobia

Fear of open spaces.

Albumin

A protein, tested for in the urine. Increased amounts "leak" out into the urine when the kidney is inflammed.

Allergen

A substance or chemical capable of causing an allergic reaction.

Alopaecia

Hair loss.

ANA (anti-nuclear antibody)

The main screening test for lupus.

Anaemia

A lack of normal amount of red blood.

Antibodies

Proteins produced by the body's immune system in defence against infection and other "foreign" invasion.

Anticoagulant

Drugs used to thin the blood (e.g. warfarin, heparin).

Atabrine

Another name for mepacrine (an antimalarial drug).

Autoimmune disease

A disease in which the immune system attacks elements of the patient's own body.

B

B-cell

One of the group of immune cells (lymphocytes).

Benign

Generally used in defining lumps when they are not malignant.

Beta-blockers

A group of drugs useful for damping down excessively fast heart rates and reducing high blood pressure.

C

Casein

One of the proteins in cheese.

Chilblains

A term used to describe cold-blisters on or inflammation of the fingers, toes or ears.

Cholesterol

One of the body's circulating fat substances.

Cognition

Awareness; ability to think methodically.

CRP (C-reactive protein)

A blood protein. Raised levels are found in inflammation such as infections.

Cystitis

Bladder inflammation..

D

Dermatomyositis

Muscle inflammation (skin rashes may also occur - hence the "dermato" - part of the term).

Dipstick

Chemical "strip" of filter paper used for standard urine tests.

Diuretics

Pills which increase fluid excretion.

DNA

The chemical in the nucleus which carries the genetic code.

E

Electro-retinography

A sensitive screening test for early abnormalities of the retina of the eye.

Endocarditis

Inflammation of the inside wall of the heart (most commonly the valves).

Epilepsy

Seizures due to abnormal "electrical" discharges from the brain.

ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate)

The blood test used as a "barometer" of inflammation.

Etiology

The cause of an illness.

F

Florid

Gross or extreme.

H

Haemoglobin

The protein molecule in red cells responsible for carrying oxygen around the body.

Herpes zoster

See shingles.

Hydrotherapy

Physiotherapy in a pool.

Immunologist

Doctor and/or scientist who studies the immune response.

ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura)

Low platelet count ("idiopathic" means the cause is not yet determined).

J

Jaundice

Yellowness of the skin due to the pigment bilirubin - can mean liver disease.

L

LE

Lupus erythematosus.

Livedo reticularis

A blotchy, purplish discoloration of blood vessels, usually on the wrists and knees.

Lymph glands

Glands situated strategically around the body to protect against the spread of infection.

M

MCTD

Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (a lupus variant condition).

ME

Myalgic encephelopathy.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

The form of scan using magnetism rather than x-rays.

N

Nephritis

Inflammation of the kidney.

Neuropathyropathy

Disease of the nerves.

Neuro-psychiatric

Involving normal and abnormal function of the brain.

Nivaquine

One of the trade names for the antimalarial, chloroquine.

NSAIDs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (standard anti-rheumatic drugs).

Nucleoproteins

The complex proteins found in the nucleus of the cell.

O

Obstetrician

Specialist dealing with pregnancy.

Opthalmoscope

Instrument used to examine the eye.

Osteoporosis

Fragile bone.

P

Pericarditis

Inflammation of the delicate tissue wrapper surrounding the heart.

Pericardium

membrane surrounding the heart.

Petit mal

A form of epilepsy. Often takes the form of transitory "absences".

Physiotherapy

Treatment by physical means.

Platelets

The components of the blood responsible for clot formation.

Pleura

The delicate tissue wrapper surrounding the lungs.

Pleurisy

Inflammation of the pleura, the delicate tissue wrapper around the lungs.

Potassium

One of the most important elements in the body's metabolism.

Proteinuria

Presence of protein in the urine.

Psoriasis

Chronic skin disorder - differs from lupus but is sometimes confused with skin lupus.

Psychosis

Grossly abnormal, pathological behaviour pattern.

Puerperium

The period of time after delivery of a baby.

Purpura

Red spots under the skin - due to "leaky" small blood vessels or to a very low platelet count.

R

Rhinitis

Inflammation in the nose.

Ribo-Nucleic-Acid

One of the molecules of the cell.

S

Sclera

The white of the eyes.

Schizophrena

Severely affected thought processes. Characterised by auditory hallucinations ("voices").

SCLE

Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus - a peculiarly UV-light sensitive skin rash in lupus.

Scleritis

Inflammation (and rednesses) in the white of the eye.

Septrin

An antibiotic - often causes rashes in lupus patients.

Shingles

A painful skin rash due to the virus herpes zoster.

Sodium valproate

A drug used in epilepsy.

Sputum

Phlegm coughed up from the chest.

Steroids

The chemical manufactured by the adrenal glands. Now manufactured synthetically for medical use.

Strepococcal

Infection with the bacterium strepococcus - can cause sore throats and (rarely) rheumatic fever.

Sulphonamides

A group of antibiotics - now largely replaced by newer antibiotics.

T

Tartrazine

A colouring used in foods which has been suggested can trigger lupus.

T-cell

One of the groups of immune cells (lymphocytes).

Thalidomide

A drug rarely used because of its disastrous side effects in pregnancy, but proving useful in some lupus with severe skin lupus.

Thrombocytopenia

Low platelet count.

Thrombosis

Clotting of the blood.

Tinnitus

Ringing in the ears - may be associated with over-use of certain drugs such as aspirin.

V

Vasculitis

Inflammation of the blood vessels.

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