17 complicated medical terms and their simpler explanations

I’ve written before about the value of using simple words in place of complex ones. The use of complex terms interferes with comprehension and frustrates your readers.

But when it comes to medical writing, using simpler terms is not always possible.

Medical terminology is notoriously complicated, given the Latin and Greek origins of many medical terms. Then there are the eponyms (words derived from someone’s name), such as listeriosis or Guillain–Barré syndrome.

Below is a list of complicated medical terms and their simpler explanations. (Definitions from Medline Plus):

1. Aphthous stomatitis: benign, non-contagious mouth sores. Also known as canker sores.

2. Borborygmi: the sound of your stomach growling, caused by the movement of gas in the intestine.

3. Bradykinesia: having slow movement or reflexes.

4. Choledocholithiasis: stones in the gallbladder or common bile duct.

5. Costochondritis: chest pain caused by the inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone.

6. Epistaxis: a nosebleed.

7. Hypercholesterolemia: high cholesterol.

8. Lachrymation: the abnormal or excessive flow of tears.

9. Morsicatio buccarum: cheek biting.

10. Onychocryptosis: having an ingrown toenail.

11. Otorhinolaryngologist: a physician who specializes in diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, and throat. Also known as an “ENT physician.”

12. Paresthesia: tingling or prickling of the skin. Also known as “pins and needles” or a limb “falling asleep.”

13. Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia: an ice cream headache.

14. Sphygmomanometer: a blood pressure cuff.

15. Xeroderma pigmentosum: extreme sensitivity to sunlight.

16. Xerostomia: dry mouth.

17. Xerosis: dry skin.

There are several sites available to help you decode medical terms. A few of my favorites are clinicalterminology.org and medical terminology for dummies.

How about you, PR Daily readers? Are there other complex medical terms you’ve had to use in your copy?

This post was first published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily.


Comments are closed.