Glossary of terms

I use a lot of medical jargon in this blog, partly because I can, having taken a medical terminology course for a job years ago, but also to lure in doctors, who might take me more seriously and read further. (It worked by the way – that’s partly why I was tapped to be a co-author of the EDS Toolkit for Doctors in 2017.)

image of stethoscope laying on an open book
Keeping up

But, I know this can be off-putting and inaccessible to others. (Much like how legalese is to me.) Obviously one can “just Google” all these terms. And ideally should. But, I think it’s nice to have a handy reference here just the same.

So I’m capturing the most common medical terms and suffixes I can for you all here in a few categories. Especially those that an Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes or MCAS patient might encounter the most.


I will slowly but steadily grow this list as time permits. Again, Google is your friend. Updated 12/10/22

Common Acronyms used with any aspects of the Chronic Constellation:

  • EDS: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome(s) The types get prefix letters, e.g. : hEDS, cEDS, kEDS, clEDS, mEDS etc.
  • HSD: Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (invented in 2017)
  • POTS: Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome
  • MCAS: Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
  • ASD: Autism SPectrum Disorder (per the DSM-V)
  • ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD is now considered a subtype)
  • CVID: Common Variable Immune Deficiency
  • MCS: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Dys: Dysauotonomia – which has many forms including POTS
  • HyperPOTS: Hyper-adrenergic POTS, a subtype of POTS (and form of Dysautonomia)
  • NMH: Neurally Mediated Hypotension (a form of Dysautonomia)
  • IIH: Idiopathic Intracranial Hypotension (conversely Hypertension)
  • CSF: Cerebro-spinal fluid

Common Medical Suffixes:

  • -ectomy – removal of whatever item precedes this suffix (e.g. appendectomy- removal of the appendix, mastectomy – removal of the breast, splenectomy – removal of the spleen)
  • -cyst – a bladder, sac or pouch (e.g. cholecyst – is the gallbladder, cholecystitis – inflammation of the gallbladder)
  • – edema – swelling of something, caused by a build up of fluid (e.g. angioedema – swelling of tissues from fluid leaked by blood vessels)
  • -gram – an image of whatever preceds this suffix (echocardiogram – sonic image of the heart, angiogram is a visualization of the vascular system)
  • -itis – inflammation of whatever word precedes this suffix (hepatitis – liver inflammation e.g.)
  • -ologist – one who studies whatever precedes this suffix (e.g. dermatologist, neurologist)
  • -ology – the study of whatever precedes this suffix (neurology – study of the nervous system e.g.)
  • -osis – a condition of whatever precedes this suffix (e.g. tuberculosis – a disease of the lungs (tubercules), cyanosis- a condition of looking blue due to low oxygen)
  • -opathy (pathy) – disease or conditions of whatever precedes the suffix (tendinopathy, radiculopathy)
  • -otomy – an opening or cut into a tissue or organ (e.g. craniotomy – cutting into the skull, laryngotomy – cut into the larynx to allow breathing below the mouth and nose)
  • -ostomy – creating a new exit for waste by attaching two organs not normally used in this way. (e.g. A colostomy is an operation that connects the colon to the abdominal wall, while an ileostomy connects the last part of the small intestine (ileum) to the abdominal wall to allow you to bypass the anus to defecate .)
  • – paresis – paralysis of whatever precedes this suffix (e.g. gastroparesis – paralysis of the stomach)
  • -pheresis – filtering of something (usually blood, e.g. plasmapheresis)

Common Medical Prefixes:

  • angio- a vessel or vessels, involving vessels
  • append – pertaining to the appendix
  • blephar – pertaining to the eyelid
  • cranial- pertaining to the cranium, or skull (e.g. “craniotomy”)
  • echo- an ultra sound image of whatever comes after (most often an echocardiogram – ultrasound of the heart)
  • entero – pertaining to the intestinal tract (small intestine) (e.g. the three mesenteric arteries feed the digestive system)
  • gastro – pertaining to the stomach (e.g. gastroparesis – literally, paralysis of the stomach)
  • geron- pertaining to aging and aged people
  • gyno- pertaining to the female reproductive system
  • hemi- halfway
  • hepat – pertaining to the liver
  • ileo – pertaining to the small intestine, or the end of it (the ilium)
  • lip – pertaining to fat and adipose (fat) cells and tissue (e.g. lipedema – edema of fat cells)
  • lymp(hatic system) – another part of the circulatory system involving immunity, in which the body collects wastes produced by cells, and slowly channels them via the lymphatic fluid back to through the lymph glands (filters), and finally back into the blood. It also circulates lymphocytes that fight infections and prevent cancer
  • neuro – pertaining to the nervous system
  • physio- pertaining to the physique, or body, and how it moves (physiotherapist, physiatrist)
  • pulmo (pulmonary) – pertaining to the lungs
  • psycho – pertaining to the brain and mind
  • renal – pertaining to the kidneys
  • splen – pertaining to the spleen

Medical Specialties

  • Cardiology – study of the heart and vascular system
  • Dermatology – study of the skin
  • Epidemiology – study of the spread of infectious diseases
  • Gastroenterology – study of the GI tract and the gut (esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, anus)
  • Gynecology – study of the female reproductive anatomy
  • Hematology – study of the blood
  • Immunology – study of the immune system (often includes allergies and allergists)
  • Neurology – study of the nervous system
  • Pathology – study of diseases and their identifiable causes, may have sub-specialties. E.g. your doctor may often send a sample of your tissue (blood, skin, other) to “pathology” for examination.
  • Psychology – study of the mind (not requiring a medical degree, cannot prescribe medications)
  • Psychiatry – study of the medicine of the brain and mind requiring a medical degree (can prescribe)
  • Rheumatology – study of the bones, joints and tendons. (Sadly, they’re taught EDS is really rare. )
  • Urology – study of the urinary system, including the urethra, ureters, bladder, and kidneys

Medical Terms

  • Cholangio – bile duct
  • Hepaticocholangiocholecystenterostomy – my favorite and longest medical term I know, only used for impressing my medical friends so far, touch wood! (And great for testing your understanding of various medical terms that comprise it.)

Social Media Shorthand and Hashtags

  • IME – In my experience
  • IMO – In my opinion
  • IMHO – In my humble opinion
  • NEISvoid – for No End In Sight Void for all with any chronic illness, diagnosed or not
  • SoMe – Social Media (as opposed to MSM or Mainstream Media)
  • YMMV – Your mileage may vary (you may not get as much benefit from something as I did)