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Transverse lesion

Interruption of nerve cells in the spinal canal, resulting in deficient muscle control and lack of feeling from the point of the lesion. It is caused by spinal injury (in an accident, for example) and tumours of the vertebrae (by metastasis) or of the spinal canal. Other causes are inflammation (an abscess), disorders of the…

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transvestism

The irrepressible need to dress, from time to time, in the manner of the other sex and thereby to experience sexual and emotional satisfaction. In a wider context, it can also be a part of the desire to assume the role of the other sex (transsexuality), and sometimes it can also be part of the…

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Tremor

Rhythmic trembling that occurs because of the involuntary contraction of opposing muscles. It occurs mainly when fear, other emotions or cold are being experienced. Some people always have such a slight tremor. These so-called physiological tremors are normal. Senile tremor in old people is an intensification of this normal tremor. Benign family tremor is an…

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Trench fever

Infection caused by Rickettsia quintana and transmitted by lice. Rickettsiae have characteristics of both viruses and bacteria, and the various forms cause illnesses with fever and skin rashes as their most important manifestations (including Q fever and typhus). They are transmitted by ticks, lice, mites or fleas, which explains the prevalence of the disease at…

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trichomoniasis

Infestation by a flagellate protozoan. This parasite has a world-wide distribution and women aged between 30 and 50 are the group mostly affected. Three kinds of trichomoniasis occur in humans, but only can cause symptoms. Most people who are infested are not troubled by the parasite and are carriers. Symptoms arise when the numbers of…

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Trichuriasis

Infestation with nematode worms of the genus Trichuris. They are 3-5 cm long and have a very thin front portion and a fat rear one containing the reproductive organs. They live for roughly eight years. The worms occur throughout the world: approximately 350 million people are infested. At the junction of the large and small…

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Tuberculosis

An infectious disease caused by the tubercle bacillus This bacterium was discovered by Robert Koch in 1882 and identified as being the causative agent of TB. Tuberculosis was formerly regarded as a manifestation of extreme physical decline as a result of malnutrition, poor hygiene and poverty, and it was known as (galloping) consumption or phthisis…

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Turner’s syndrome

A congenital abnormality in which a sex chromosome is missing. The woman has only one X-chromosome instead of two (or one chromosome and part of the second X-chromosome). This abnormality occurs during, or frequently after, the fertilization of the ovum. Women suffering from this syndrome are frequently short, have a short and wide neck, and…

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Typhoid fever

A serious infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. A similar clinical picture can be caused by the agent responsible for a form of paratyphoid. Infection can be transmitted by unboiled milk, water or by food infected by a carrier. The disease begins after an incubation period of about 7 to 14 days, with headaches,…

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tooth abscess

Inflammation of the part of a tooth where it enters the jawbone. It is often a complication of dental caries (decay). If a tooth is affected by caries, the process can be halted only by completely removing the decayed material and filling the space with a suitable substitute. If this is not done, inflammation arises…

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ulcer

Deep defect in the skin or mucous membrane, formed by the death of tissue. An ulcer shows little tendency to recover, in contrast to a wound which heals much more easily. Skin ulcers occur regularly, and have very varied causes. Bacteria, parasites, fungi etc. can cause ulcers. Examples are leprosy, yaws, leishmaniasis and syphilis. Disorders…

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Ulcerative colitis

Chronic inflammation and ulceration of the large intestine, without specific cause such as a bacterium or virus, often occurring in older children and young adults, but sometimes in later life. Ulcerative colitis is probably an autoimmune disease: the body produces defences against its own tissue. Psychological factors may also be involved, but this is doubted…

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Testicle, atrophy of

A condition in which the testicles cease to produce sperm and hormones or do so in only limited amounts. The testicles are also usually reduced in size. This condition can occur after orchitis, external injuries, torsion of the testicle and undescended testicles. The testicles of some individuals have a predisposition to atrophy, for example in…

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Tetanus (lockjaw)

Serious wound infection, caused by the poison (toxin) of the tetanus bacillus This disease is now rare as a result of a vaccination programme. The infection is usually the consequence of a wound which comes into contact with contaminated earth or with street refuse. The bacterium grows in the wound and releases its toxin. This…

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Thalassaemia

A congenital abnormality in which the production of red blood corpuscles is disturbed. The proteins used in the production of red cells are abnormal and as a result the corpuscles are also abnormal. This leads to their rapidly being broken down. Thus, thalassaemia is primarily a disturbance in cell production, combined with a form of…

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Threadworm

Oxyuriasis is a disease caused by infestation with the threadworm, a common intestinal parasite, and it affects more than 200 million people throughout the world, especially children. The colourless worms live at the junction of the large and small intestine, or sometimes in the caecum, and feed on their contents. The male worms, 3-5 mm…

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Thrombophlebitis

Inflammation of the wall of a vein, usually in the leg. Phlebitis is almost always associated with the formation of a blood clot at the point of inflammation. A distinction must be made between inflammation of superficial and deeper veins of the leg. In the case of a deeper vein it is principally symptomatic of…

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Thrombosis

The presence of a blood clot in a vein or artery. Although thrombosis can in principle arise in any blood vessel and in any part of the body, it occurs in the veins of the leg in the overwhelming majority of cases. A blood clot can form when the wall of the vein is damaged…

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Thrush

Infection of the mucous membrane of the mouth, throat or vagina caused by the fungus Candida albicans. The fungus is normally present on the skin and in the mucous membrane and mouth of most people without causing infection. If the host’s resistance is lowered by lengthy illness or the use of certain medicines (including cytostatics)…

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Thyroiditis

Inflammation of the thyroid gland, which can be caused by infection; more commonly it is an autoimmune disease involving antibodies against thyroid tissue. A few days or weeks after infection of the air passages (usually by a virus) the thyroid swells increasingly and painfully, and swallowing becomes more difficult. Pain usually radiates to the jaw…

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Tic douloureux

Pain in the face can be caused by various factors. Known syndromes include hemicrania, or migraine, and trigeminal neuralgia. Hemicrania occurs above all in men and is characterized by regular attacks of disabling throbbing pain around one eye, possibly radiating to the temple and jaw; there are also local disturbances such as streaming eyes, running…

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Syringomelia

A rare condition, usually of the upper part of the spinal cord. A central cavity forms, surrounded by a kind of scar tissue. The cause is unknown. The condition begins between the ages of 20 and 45, and causes either no serious disability or disability which does not become serious until a late stage. Various…

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Tinnitus

Hearing sounds in the ear or head without a source of noise. Buzzing in the ears can be caused by an ear-wax blockage, but it more frequently occurs in an ear that has been damaged in some other way: by loud noise, medication, otitis, surgery, accident or old age. All these are likely to involve…

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tapeworm (Taenia)

Infestation with a parasite that lives and grows in the intestine. There are two kinds, the common tapeworm which occurs throughout the world and the armed tapeworm, which occurs in the tropics and subtropics. Tapeworms live in the small intestine of man, where they feed on liquid food. They can grow to be very long…

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Tonsillitis

Inflammation of the tonsils. Tonsillitis occurs predominantly in children and young adults. So-called ‘common’ tonsillitis is caused by bacteria or viruses. In many cases a viral infection occurs first (while the patient has a cold, for example), which weakens the resistance of the tonsil cells and allows bacteria, almost always haemolytic streptococci, to invade. The…

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Teeth, discoloured

Discoloration of the teeth often occurs through exterior influences, such as colouring matter in food, tobacco or certain medicines. One substance known to have a discolouring effect on the teeth is fluoride. Too much fluoride, as for example in the drinking water during the period when the teeth are growing, can lead to a yellowish-brown,…

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tendon injuries

Injury to the tough connective tissue at the end of a muscle by which it is attached to bone. Tendon injuries limit movement and cause pain at the point of injury. If the tendon is torn completely, the muscle contracts powerfully, with one piece of the tendon attached to it. Tendon injuries can be part…

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tenosynovitis

Inflammation of the connective tissue sheath surrounding a tendon, resulting from irritation through intensive use. Generally the tendon itself is also inflamed, along with the mucus goblet cells in the area. The wrists are often affected. Symptoms are pain and loss of strength: objects cannot be gripped properly, for example. Fluid may accumulate within the…

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stomach ulcer

Stomach and duodenal ulcers are both caused by stomach acid and pepsin, an enzyme that normally breaks down protein. It is not yet clear why these substances produce ulcers in some people and not in others; the probable cause is that active and protective factors are thrown off balance. Factors that protect the mucous membrane…

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stomatitis

Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth. There are various causes, one of which is infection from the fungus Candida albicans, causing creamy-white patches throughout the mouth, or redness and inflammation of the oral mucous membrane. The condition is also known as oral thrush. The herpes simplex virus, among others, can also cause inflammation…

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Stroke (cerebrovascular accident)

Sudden disturbance of blood supply to the brain, possibly leading to loss of faculties (including loss of feeling and paralysis). In roughly three-quarters of cases the cause is narrowing of a blood vessel and possible clot formation, leading to paralysis or aphasia, the inability to speak. These symptoms can be shortlived, if the blood clot…

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Strongyloidiasis

Infestation with the Strongyloides stercorals worm, 2 mm long, which occurs frequently in the tropics. About 35 million people are affected. Only the females live in the small intestine, where they lay their eggs. The larvae hatch in the body and are excreted with the faeces, then develop into infectious larvae in the ground. These…

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Stye

Acute inflammation of a sebaceous gland at the base of an eyelash, causing swelling, redness and pain; an abscess forms around the sebaceous gland, and can break through to the outside. Styes are usually caused by staphylococci; they heal rapidly once the abscess has burst. Sudden infant death syndrome (cot death) Sudden and unexpected death…

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Suffocation

Oxygen shortage, possibly causing death. Suffocation usually occurs because breathing is obstructed, as in choking. Examples of other causes are drowning, in which water in the lungs prevents breathing, a plastic bag over the head which closes the mouth and nose because it is sucked in, and vomiting in unconscious people without the stimulus to…

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Sunburn

Damage to skin caused by excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, comparable with a mild first-degree burn. It usually occurs as a result of sunbathing. The skin is normally protected against the rays of the sun by pigment which is formed when the pigment cells are activated by ultraviolet radiation. The skin then becomes…

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Sprue

Intestinal condition characterized by malabsorption. The term is used for two diseases of dissimilar origin, but with the same effect on the small intestine. Both involve atrophy of the small intestinal mucosa, which absorb nutrition in the small intestine. One form, coeliac disease, is caused by abnormal sensitivity of the intestinal mucosa to gluten. The…

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Sunstroke

Serious disorder that results from overexposure to heat. It is particularly common in people who do not enjoy perfect health (cardiac and vascular diseases, diabetes or alcoholism). The condition occurs mainly in hot damp weather and is caused by the failure of the heat regulation centres of the brain and the resultant overheating of the…

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Hidradenitis

Suppurating inflammation of the sweat glands in the armpit or groin. There are special sweat glands at these sites which also produce body odour. The condition outwardly rather resembles a boil, but a boil is an inflammation of the hair follicles and not the sweat glands. Hidradenitis is caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. It…

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Stein-Leventhal syndrome

Complex of symptoms associated with certain functional disturbances of the ovaries. During menstruation it is usual for an ovum to ripen in one of the ovaries (in a follicle, a vesicle filled with fluid). At ovulation the ovum is released, involving hormones from the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. In Stein-Leventhal syndrome this hormonal function is…