In Part 1 and Part 2 of of English for Medical Professionals, we studied some vocabulary words that are common both in medicine and outside of it. Today, we’ll look at a few English words that are more specific to healthcare and certain health problems. Some of these words deal with some very… gross… health problems. So you may not want to read this post if you’re eating.
There’s no delicate way to put this. Diarrhea is when your stool is very watery, and hard to hold in. Gross, I know. But this is an important English word to know, both for doctors and patients. This digestive problem creates many urgent situations, and it’s important to be able to explain what’s happening… using the proper medical term.
Vomit can be a verb or noun. This is another disgusting-but-important word for an urgent kind of sickness. Vomiting is what happens when you can’t digest your food and it comes back up your throat and out of your mouth. Vomit can be a verb for the act of pushing your food back out of your body in this way. It can also be a noun, referring to food that has been “thrown up.”
A virus is a tiny microscopic living thing…. sort of. Because viruses can’t reproduce without the help of other organisms, they don’t meet all scientific characteristics of living things. Viruses reproduce by attacking individual cells in the bodies of people and animals. In medical terms, a virus can be a tiny thing that attacks an individual cell. But more often, the term virus refers to an entire group of virus organisms and the symptoms of their attack on a patient’s body. Viruses can cause a variety of sicknesses and problems.
Bacteria are microscopic single-celled organisms. In English, people often use the tern bacteria to refer to harmful or “dirty” microscopic living things. In medical science, however, bacteria can be good or bad. Doctors will talk about the good bacteria that lives in the human stomach and helps people digest things. Medical professionals also treat bad bacteria that causes infections. Bacterial infections cause many symptoms similar to symptoms of viruses.
A parasite is a living thing that attaches itself to a larger living thing, or lives inside another organism. Parasites weaken the “host” that they live on or in, usually by drinking the host’s blood, or eating some of the food that reaches the host’s stomach. Parasites outside of the human body include leeches and ticks. Common stomach parasites include tapeworms and hookworms. (Again, don’t check out any of this information if you’re eating!)
Why this is important
This post was probably a less pleasant ride than a lot of the vocabulary posts on this blog. But it’s improtnat to know these words if you;re going to work in medicine. It’s also important to know these words if you plan to study or work in an English speaking coutnry. Medical vocabulary can help you describe unpleasant medical conditions and get help. No one stays well 100% of the time, and it’s good to be able to talk clearly about physical problems when they arise
This information is also important because the words above will be key words for some upcoming listening and reading exercises for medical professionals. Watch this space– more English for medical professionals is coming soon!