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Tuberculosis
An infection caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The infection is typically in the lung, though it can be in a variety of other locations as well. This disease is very contagious and difficult to treat. It requires immediate hospitalization to prevent spread.
Tuberous sclerosis
A genetic disorder leading to multiple noncancerous tumors arising in a variety of organs such as the brain, eyes, heart, kidney, skin, and lungs. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, such as seizures and intellectual disability.
Turner syndrome
A genetic abnormality in women caused by absence of an entire sex chromosome (one of 46 structures that carry human genetic information). It is caused by a problem very early in conception. It can lead to a variety of physical abnormalities, most notably to the heart.
Typhoid fever
An illness caused by infection by the bacteria Salmonella Typhi. It is usually spread from person to person by accidentally ingesting small fecal particles, usually due to poor hygiene. It is more common in non-developed countries. An effective vaccine exists for those traveling internationally.
Ulcerative colitis
A chronic, inflammatory disease of the bowel (mostly the large intestine), characterized by the development of open sores in the bowel, as well as system-wide symptoms such as muscle and joint aches. It has a genetic component and is caused by attack from the body's own immune system.
Urethral disorder
Any problem with the urethra, the tube through which urine leaves the body. Common problems include narrowing of the tube, inflammation or infection, or an abnormal opening of the tube.
Urethral stricture
An abnormal narrowing of the urethra, the tube through which urine leaves the body. It may be caused by inflammation and scarring (from surgery, catheter related injury, sexually transmitted disease, and other issues) or blockage (e.g. a tumor).
Urethral valves
A disorder of development in which there is a valve in the back of the urethra, the tube that takes urine from the bladder out of the body, leading to backup of urine. It can vary in severity from life threatening to the fetus to completely unnoticed through adulthood. Surgery may be required to prevent damage to the urinary tracts.
Urethritis
Inflammation of the urethra, the tube that takes urine from the bladder out of the body. It is typically caused by an infection (often sexually transmitted, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia), but not always.
Urge incontinence
The uninentional loss of urine that is preceded by a strong, sudden need to urinate. Often known as "overactive bladder," it may be a sign of bladder irritation, or damage to the muscles or nerves of the bladder (e.g. due to diabetes, multiple sclerosis, etc.).
Urinary tract infection
Due to bacteria growing in the urethra or bladder. It is more common in women than in men. The infection can advance to the kidneys, leading to a condition known as pyelonephritis.
Urinary tract obstruction
A blockage of urinary flow anywhere from the kidneys to the end of the urethra (tube from which urine leaves the body). Common causes include kidney stones, enlarged prostate, pelvic fracture, and masses pressing on the urinary tract. If not treated, this can cause backup of urine and ultimately kidney damage.
Uterine atony
A loss of muscle tone or strength in the uterus (i.e. "the womb"). Immediately after birth, contraction of the uterine muscles normally stops blood flow, thus preventing bleeding in the mother. This condition can lead to life-threatening bleeding if not treated.
Uterine cancer
A malignant transformation of the tissues of the uterus. The uterus is the female reproductive organ that holds the fetus during pregnancy. A variety of different cancers, each with a different prognosis and treatment, can arise from the uterus.
Uterine fibroids
A non-dangerous growth of fibrous muscle tissue in the uterus. These can cause painful menses (i.e. "periods") and infertility. They sometimes require surgical removal or removal of the entire uterus.
Uveitis
Inflammation of the uvea, the middle parts of the eye that give it color. If not treated urgently, it may lead to blindness. Causes include infections or auto-immune diseases. Often it is part of a more widespread disease.
VACTERL syndrome
A syndrome of birth defects that tend to occur together.
Vaginal cyst
A collection of fluid in a tissue pocket of the vagina. Cysts can form in old embryological structures (Gartner's cyst) or in glands (Bartholin gland cyst). Minor impact (e.g. tampon insertion) may also lead to cyst formation in the vaginal wall.
Vaginal yeast infection
Also known as vaginal thrush, this is an overgrowth of a fungus that is naturally found in the vagina. It affects the majority of women at some point in their lives. The exact triggers for yeast infections are unknown, but they are typically not dangerous.
Vaginismus
A condition in which the muscles surrounding the vagina unconsciously spasm or tense up when something is being inserted into the vaginal canal. This can lead to inability to painful sexual intercourse. The cause is often unknown.
Vaginitis
Inflammation of the vagina, often in conjunction with the vulva (external tissues). Commonly, it is due to bacterial overgrowth, candida (fungus), or trichomoniasis. Only the latter is sexually transmitted.
Valley fever
A fungal infection by the fungi of the coccidioides group. They are often found in the soil, but may be breathed in when the soil is disrupted (e.g. farming, wind). Symptoms are usually mild, but can be severe in those with lowered immune symptoms, such as people with HIV.
Varicocele of the testicles
An abnormal enlargement of a complex of veins in the scrotum (the loose bag of skin under the penis). This is typically caused by a defect in the valves of the veins, causing backflow, similar to a varicose vein in the legs. It can also be caused by compression of the veins, for instance by a tumor.
Varicose veins
A condition in which veins become enlarged, twisted, and more visible. They are most commonly seen in the legs with age and are typically not dangerous, though they can be painful.
Vasculitis
An inflammation of the blood vessels, often due to conditions where the body's own immune system attacks the vessels. Some forms of vasculitis are short term while others are chronic. If left untreated this can lead to decreased blood flow and damage to vital organs.
Venous insufficiency
A set of temporary symptoms due to decreased blood flow to the back of the brain. This often occurs in people with narrowing of the arteries over time, and puts them at risk for stroke.
Vertebrobasilar insufficiency
A set of temporary symptoms caused by decreased blood flow to the back of the brain, which also places you at risk for having a stroke.
Vesicoureteral reflux
The abnormal movement of urine in the opposite direction of normal flow, from the bladder (which stores urine) towards the kidneys (which produce urine). It is ofen caused by poorly functioning vales in the ureteres (the tube that takes urine from the kidney to the bladder or by blockage of urine flow, leading to backup into the ureters or kidneys.
Viral exanthem
A widespread rash due to a viral infection, usually in children. There are many different types, but most are marked by red flat or bumpy spots spread over the body. Most will resolve on their own, but the rash must be differentiated from bacterial infections, reactions to toxins or medications, and auto-immune diseases.
Viral hepatitis
Inflammation of the liver caused by an infection from a virus. Common forms include Hepatitis A (short-term infections from contaminated food), Hepatitis B (for which most children are vaccinated), and Hepatitis C (long-term infection typically from sharing needles)
Viral warts
Infection of the lung tissue due to a virus as opposed to bacteria. Viral pneumonia are more common in children. Parainfluenza-virus, RSV and influenza virus A and B are the most common pathogens.
Vitamin A deficiency
Low levels of vitamin A, an essential vitamin. It is more common in less developed countries and is a cause of night blindness (difficulty seeing in low light) and many other symptoms. Risk factors include poor nutrition, alcoholism, and conditions leading to poor fat absorption such as pancreatitis.
Vitamin B12 deficiency
A condition in which concentrations of the essential vitamin B12 in the blood are low. This is typically due to either poor dietary intake or poor absorption in the gut. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent nerve damage.
Vitamin B deficiency
Low levels in the body of one of many different essential vitamins in the "vitamin B" family. Low levels of any of the vitamins can lead to serious medical consequences. Causes of deficiency may include low intake or decreased ability to absorb the vitamins in the intestine.
Vitamin D deficiency
Low levels of vitamin D, often caused by low intake of vitamin D-rich foods coupled with low exposure to sunlight (which is necessary for the body to produce vitamin D). This can cause a condition of bone thinning and deformity, known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.
Vitreous degeneration
A condition in which pieces of a small membrane in the eye begin to detach, leading to the visual phenomena known as "floaters." Floaters appear as little squiggly swimmers in the visual field. Though occasional floaters are normal, in some this can be persistent and debilitating.
Vitreous hemorrhage
Bleeding inside of the vitreous humor, a large hollow space inside of the eyeball filled with clear gel. This can cause problems with vision. Risk factors include diabetes, direct physical injury, and retinal detachment.
Vocal cord polyp
A noncancerous growth on the the vocal cords, the thin tissues in the windpipe that move during speech or singing producing different sounds. They are most often the result of overuse of the voice, for instance by professional singers or coaches. Smoking and allergies also increase the risk.
Volvulus
A condition in which a loop of bowel becomes twisted, leading to bowel obstruction (inability of stool to pass through the digestive tract) and possibly loss of blood flow to the bowels (which can lead to bowel death). This is a medical emergency requiring surgical repair. It is often caused by abnormalities present at birth or scarring after surgery.
Von Hippel-Lindau disease
A rare genetic condition that runs in families, leading to development of cancerous and noncancerous tumors, particularly in the brain, eyes, kidneys, and pancreas.
Von Willebrand disease
A typically genetic disease that runs in families, leading to decreased ability to clot the blood and thus a tendency to bleed. It often manifests as easy bruising, nosebleeds, and heavy periods in women. It is caused by abnormality in von Willebrand factor, a protein necessary for platelets to stick together, the first step in clot formation.
Vulvar cancer
A malignant transformation of the tissues of the vulva in women. The vulva is the external genitalia of women. These cancers often present as a lump or an ulcer.
Vulvar disorder
Any problem with the vulva, which is the external part of a woman's genitals. Common problems include infections, allergic skin conditions, cancers, or chronic pain syndromes.
Vulvodynia
Chronic pain of the vulva, the external portion of the female genitalia. While the cause is unknown, pain is often triggered by insertion (e.g. tampon, intercourse) or pressure (e.g. biking). Some patients experience constant discomfort.
Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome
A brain disorder due to low levels of the vitamin B1 (thiamine). It begins with symptoms of Wernicke encephalopathy (confusion, loss of muscle coordination, vision changes, etc.) which are followed by Korsakoff syndrome (inability to form new memories, loss of memories, hallucinations, making up stories). It is common in alcoholics, who tend to have low thiamine levels. If not treated, damage may be permanent.
West Nile virus
A viral infection commonly spread to humans by mosquito bite. Most infected people do not have any symptoms at all, though a small minority can have serious, sometimes fatal neurologic illness. There is no treatment.
White blood cell disease
Any disorder of the white blood cells (the cells of the immune system). Problems include too few white blood cells, too many white blood cells or poorly functioning white blood cells. Many of these disorders lead to a decreased ability to fight off infections.
Whooping cough
Also known as pertussis, this is a highly contagious illness caused by infection by the bacterial Bordetella pertussis. It is no longer common in the United States due to vaccination. It is characterized by a "whooping" sound made during coughing spells. It can lead to serious complications in children, particularly to the brain.
Wilson disease
A genetic disorder in which the body is unable to get rid of extra copper. Small amounts of copper are needed from food, but too much is poisonous, depositing in the liver, brain, eyes, and other organs causing damage.
Yeast infection
Typically referring to an infection of the vagina by an overgrowth of a normally occurring fungus. This can occur with antibiotic use, pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes, or lowered immune system. Most women experience this at some time in their lives, and it is not a sexually transmitted disease.
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