Glossary of Terms

This glossary of terms is meant to help everyone understand medical words. It is a place to quickly find information on medical words.

To find a word or term begin by clicking on a letter in the A-Z list. Then you can browse down the list to find the word you want. You can also type your medical word in the search box in the upper right corner and then click on the little magnifying glass.

This glossary is for information only. It should never be used instead of advice from a healthcare provider.

If you have questions or comments about the Glossary of Terms please let us know.

If there is a word you couldn't find or you have a suggestion, please send an email to @email

Thank you!


a condition where you suddenly fall asleep during times you would normally be awake


pain medication

analgesics, , used to reduce the sensation of pain

nasogastric tube (NG tube)

feeding tube

tube of soft rubber or plastic that is inserted through a nostril and into your stomach to give liquid foods or medications

flexible tube that is inserted through the patient's nose into the stomach to drain unwanted fluids that can build up


uneasiness or discomfort in your stomach

queasy feeling in your stomach that can, but does not always, lead to vomiting

nausea is very common in the first trimester of pregnancy

navigator (care navigator)

a person who helps you understand and use health care services 


medication for asthma or COPD in a mist

nebulizer changes medication from a liquid to a mist so that it can be more easily breathed into your lungs




have to, must, cause


very small, tiny, minor


the time from a baby's birth to four weeks (28 days) of age.

neonatal death

death in the first month of life

neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)

special care nursery for sick and premature newborns. NICUs are staffed with specialists trained to care for babies with special needs and use advanced technology in the care of those babies.




doctor who cares for newborn babies


study of kidneys and kidney problems


the part of your kidneys that actually makes urine in to remove waste from your  blood 

the functional unit of your kidney. It acts to maintain the body’s chemical balance


kidney damage

nephrostogram procedure (percutaneous nephrostogram)

special x-ray of your kidney

imaging of your kidney by injecting a contrast agent (dye) through a nephrostomy tube. This will confirm the position of the catheter (tube) and assess the drainage of the kidney.

nephrostomy tube

nephrostomy tube is a catheter (thin plastic tube) that is put through your skin and into your kidney to drain urine

nephrostomy tube is necessary when there is a blockage in your ureter. This obstructs the flow of urine from the kidney to the bladder

nervous system (peripheral)

The peripheral nervous system is the part of the nervous system outside your brain and spinal cord. It consists of nerves that carry information between the central nervous system and the extremities of your body (such as your arms and legs)


swelling of a nerve

neurodegenerative process (degenerative nerve disorder)

when your motor nerves slowly stop working

a progressive loss of the structure and function of your motor nerves. Neurodegenerative processes may affect many of your body's activities, such as balance, movement, talking, breathing and heart function.


about your nervous system


about your brain and nervous system


neurology is the study of your brain and nervous system


disease of your nervous system

damage to you nervous system


neurosurgery is surgery of your brain or nervous system


cancel, stop


a baby between birth and one month old

neonatal period


small, not important

non ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI)

heart attack

non-emergent care

healthcare needs that can be looked after by your family doctor or nurse practitioner.

care that doesn't need to happen in the emergency department 


a medication that isn't on the hospital's approved drug list, or isn't on your drug plan's approved list


without medication

ways to stop illness without using medication

non-stress test (NST)

a way to check on how your baby is doing while inside your uterus. In a nonstress test, you are hooked up to a fetal monitor and the response of the fetal heart rate to fetal movements is observed

normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH)

a disorder where extra fluid in your brain causes problems with walking, bladder control, thinking, and memory


starting in the hospital


let you know, alert you


dangerous, poisonous


nothing to eat or drink

nothing by mouth

nuclear medicine

type of medical imaging

medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and determine the severity of or treat a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal, endocrine, neurological disorders and other abnormalities within the body.

Imaging studies of body regions using the injection of radioisotopes or biochemicals that are taken up by specific body tissues, for studying function rather than structure.

nurse practitioner

a nurse with special training

nurse practitioners are advanced registered nurses educated and trained to provide health promotion and maintenance through the diagnosis and treatment of acute illness and chronic condition


food, meal, diet


healthy food

food that is good for your body