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Asthma Glossary of Terms


Productive cough: a "wet" cough that may involve coughing up mucus.

Puffer: another term for inhaler or metered dose inhaler.

Pulmonary function tests(PFTS): a test or series of tests that measure many aspects of lung function and capacity; also referred to as lung function tests.

Pulse oximetry: a test in which a device that clips on the finger measures the oxygen level in the blood.

Respiration: the process of breathing which includes the exchange of gases in the blood (oxygen and carbon dioxide), the taking in and processing of oxygen, and the delivery of carbon dioxide to the lungs for removal. See inhalation and exhalation.

Sinuses: air pockets inside the head.

Spacer: a chamber that is used with a metered dose inhaler to help the medication get into the airways better. Spacers also make metered dose inhalers easier to use; spacers are sometimes called "holding chambers."

Spirometry: a basic pulmonary function test that measures how much and how fast air moves out of the lungs.

Sputum: mucus or phlegm.

Steroid: medication that reduces swelling and inflammation. Comes in pill, injected, and inhaled forms. Also called corticosteroid.

Symptom: what someone will experience as a result of a disease or illness, like pain, cough, or shortness of breath, for example.

Theophylline: a long- term control medication that opens the airways, which helps prevent and relieve bronchospasm.

Trachea: the main airway (windpipe) supplying both lungs.

Triggers: things that cause asthma symptoms to begin or make them worse.

Vaccine: a shot that protects the body from a specific disease by stimulating the body's own immune system.

Wheezing: the high-pitched whistling sound of air moving through narrowed airways.



WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 09, 2012

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