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Words used to describe illnesses, diseases and medical conditions

acute

adjective

an acute illness is one that becomes very bad very quickly

advanced

adjective

an advanced illness is difficult or impossible to treat because it has had time to develop completely

asymptomatic

adjective

if a disease or person is asymptomatic, they show no physical signs of a medical problem

autoimmune

adjective

relating to conditions and diseases in which normal cells are attacked by someone’s immune system (=parts of the body that fight disease)

bariatric

adjective

relating to the causes and treatment of obesity

benign

adjective

a benign lump in your body or a benign disease is not cancer and will not kill you

catching

adjective

an illness, mood, or idea that is catching spreads quickly to other people

chronic

adjective

a chronic illness or chronic pain is serious and lasts for a long time. A serious illness or pain that lasts only for a short time is described as acute

clinical

adjective

relating to an illness

communicable

adjective

a communicable disease can be passed from one person or animal to another

communicable

adjective

able to be communicated to someone else

congenital

adjective

a congenital medical condition is one that a person has had since they were born

congenital

adjective

if someone has a congenital fault, they have always had it

contagious

adjective

a contagious disease spreads from one person to another through touch or through the air

crippling

adjective

causing someone to be physically disabled, especially unable to walk

curable

adjective

possible to cure

degenerative

adjective

a degenerative disease is one that gradually gets worse

depressive

adjective

relating to depression, or suffering from depression

disabling

adjective

if a condition or injury is disabling, it affects your body or your brain and makes you unable to use it properly

epidemic

adjective

happening a lot and affecting many people

febrile

adjective

relating to a fever

first-degree

adjective

a first-degree burn is the least serious type

focal

adjective

a focal disease or infection is limited to one part of the body

fungal

adjective

caused by a fungus

generalized

adjective

affecting most of the body rather than just one area

inactive

adjective

an inactive disease or other threat is present but not doing anything at this time

incurable

adjective

not able to be cured

infantile

adjective

affecting young children

infectious

adjective

an infectious disease is one that can spread from one person to another

inflammatory

adjective

causing inflammation in a part of your body

inoperable

adjective

an inoperable medical condition cannot be cured or treated by an operation

invasive

adjective

an invasive disease spreads within the body and is difficult to treat

life-threatening

adjective

likely to cause someone to die

local

adjective

affecting only a small area of your body

low-grade

adjective

a low-grade medical condition is not very serious

malignant

adjective

a malignant tumour consists of cancer cells that can spread in the body

mild

adjective

a mild illness or injury is one that is not serious

morbid

adjective

relating to or caused by disease

mortal

adjective

serious enough to cause death

multiple

adjective

affecting several parts of your body

nervous

adjective

a nervous illness or medical condition is caused by worry, or by working too hard, so that you feel excited when you want to relax

neurodegenerative

adjective

relating to conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease that cause someone’s nerves to be damaged

niggling

adjective

a niggling injury is not very serious but is difficult to treat or cure

non-invasive

adjective

a non-invasive illness does not spread to other parts of your body

non-specific

adjective

not relating to or not caused by one particular thing

non-specific

adjective

a non-specific illness or medical condition may have more than one cause

notifiable

adjective

if a disease is notifiable, new cases of it must be reported to a public health authority

operable

adjective

an operable disease can be cured by a medical operation

opportunistic

adjective

an opportunistic disease or infection is one that attacks people who are already ill and who have a very weak immune system

parasitic

adjective

a parasitic disease is caused by parasites living inside your body

pathological

adjective

caused by disease

perforated

adjective

used about an organ or tube inside your body that has a small hole or cut in its surface

primary

adjective

in the first stage of development

psychiatric

adjective

involving mental illness

psychosomatic

adjective

a psychosomatic illness is caused by a problem in your mind

quiescent

adjective

a quiescent disease or illness is not getting worse

refractory

adjective

a refractory illness does not improve despite medical treatment

rheumatic

adjective

relating to or affected by rheumatism

second-degree

adjective

a second-degree burn is more serious than a first-degree burn but not as serious as a third-degree burn

self-induced

adjective

a self-induced medical condition is one that you cause yourself

self-inflicted

adjective

a self-inflicted injury, condition etc is one that you cause yourself

severe

adjective

a severe pain, injury, or illness is serious and unpleasant

sporadic

adjective

a sporadic disease appears in separate areas of a country or region with no clear connection between the cases

strangulated

adjective

a strangulated part of your body does not have enough blood flowing to it

stubborn

adjective

difficult to cure or remove

suspected

adjective

a suspected injury is one that doctors think you have, but they are not sure yet

systemic

adjective

affecting your whole body

terminal

adjective

a terminal illness cannot be cured and will cause someone to die, usually slowly

terminal

adjective

continuing to get worse until the end is reached

third-degree

adjective

a third-degree burn is the most serious type

traumatic

adjective

a traumatic injury causes serious damage to the body

treatable

adjective

a treatable illness or medical condition can be cured by medical treatment

tubercular

adjective

relating to or affected by tuberculosis

unresponsive

adjective

an unresponsive illness does not improve when doctors treat it

untreated

adjective

receiving no medical treatment

viral

adjective

caused by or relating to a virus

virulent

adjective

a virulent illness is very dangerous, and affects people very quickly

wasting

adjective

a wasting disease makes you thin, weak, and tired

waterborne

adjective

a waterborne disease is spread through water

clinically

adverb

incurable

noun

incurably

adverb

infectiously

adverb

infectiousness

noun

malignantly

adverb

pandemic

adjective

pathologically

adverb

prolapsed

adjective

psychiatrically

adverb

virulence

noun

virulently

adverb

pre-cation

a paid holiday given to a new employee before they start their job

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