Medical Dictionary - A Useful Tool to Have Around

Medical Dictionary - A Useful Tool to Have Around

While it’s up to your doctor to make sure you understand your ailments or symptoms, there may be times you don’t realize you’re unclear about your condition until you get home. A medical dictionary can be used to give you a clearer picture of your ailment and what you may be dealing with.

Suppose you come back from a laboratory or hospital and there are abbreviations on your discharge paperwork or reports - how can you determine what it means? A medical dictionary can be used like a traditional resource, helping you to locate abbreviations so you can understand the results.

A medical dictionary also helps you differentiate between various symptoms or ailments. For example, if you visit your doctor because you have a swollen area on your leg, it’s helpful to know that the doctor determines whether it's a sebaceous cyst rather than a tarsal cyst.

medical dictionary

Though they are both cyst-like in description, you will see from looking in a dictionary that a tarsal cyst is an inflammation of the oil gland in the eye – which is something you don’t have. You will understand that by looking it up.

Having a dictionary around the home is also helpful for you if you want to be aware of Mom or Dad’s condition. How many times have you understood something in a doctor’s office or hospital only to get home and find you can’t remember exactly what was said?

If Mom isn’t feeling well, it’s very reasonable to think she can get overwhelmed at the doctor’s office as the doctor is reading her results. With a medical dictionary in the home, you can rest easy knowing all you have to do is read the laboratory or doctor’s reports and locate the information yourself.

Knowing Mom or Dad’s condition will help you understand their needs or symptoms so they can heal and get well.

Medical terminology isn’t something that everyone can understand, but the way a medical dictionary is broken down makes it user-friendly for anyone who needs to look up information. Medical words are often formed with Greek or Latin prefix or suffixes, which provides you with the exact name of the ailment or condition.

For example, if Dad is suffering from kidney stones, his laboratory report may indicate the Greek word “nephros” (which means kidney) and lithos (meaning stone). Since very few people can read nephrolithiasis and think “oh, kidney stone!”, you can easily look up nephrolithiasis in a dictionary and find out what is it, how it develops and a brief description of treatments or the process in which a patient will heal.

Now that questions can be answered in a matter of minutes thanks to the Internet, online medical dictionaries offer you the information you need after just moments of searching. Reputable medical websites such as eMedicine Health or Mayo Clinic offer you free use of online medical dictionaries. Such websites will not only provide you with the basic information about the ailment or condition, but you’ll also find symptoms, causes, risks, complications, available tests, medications and lifestyle changes to help Mom or Dad deal with a particular diagnosis. These user-friendly websites are very good about explaining the topic in a direct, informative way.

While a dictionary is a useful tool to have, it’s important not to use it in place of your doctor’s advice or recommendations. Seek the opinion of the doctor so that tests may be done to reach the proper diagnosis for treatment or medication.

A dictionary should provide you with additional information to a doctor’s report, not help you treat ailments or conditions on your own.


A dictionary should be used as a resource only, to help you and your parents understand words and phrases that a medical professional may use. Ask your doctor to write down diagnosis, terms and medicines that you're not familiar with and look them up at home. When in doubt, call your doctor's office for clarification.

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