18 Medical Words to Never, Ever Confuse

Medical terminology can be difficult to understand and often confuse. However, there are many words that are not interchangeable and using them could make a medical mistake, endangering your health. Learning the difference in these 18 words could help save your life.

What’s the difference between an ER and Urgent Care?

Both sound like they’re meant for an immediate medical condition, but they aren’t for the same types of emergencies. Urgent care is design for similar care to what you’d get from your primary care doctor. If you have a fever, a sore throat, or a cut and can’t make an appointment with your regular doctor, go to Urgent Care. The ER should be reserved for conditions that need quick and advanced treatment. For example, difficulty breathing, severe pain in the abdomen or chest, eye or head injuries, and cuts deep enough for stitches. For more information on the types of coverage and limitations your plan offers for the ER and Urgent Care, please contact Medicare Pathways.

What’s the difference in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?

Dementia isn’t a specific disease, it’s an umbrella term for a group of symptoms that affect memory and reasoning. Alzheimer’s is just one of the disease that could be behind dementia. It’s impossible to diagnose with 100% accuracy without an autopsy, but the patients have a slow decline in memory and cognitive function.

What’s the difference between heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest?

When an artery becomes blocked and can’t deliver oxygen-rich blood to the heart, some of the heart’s muscle cells die, causing a heart attack. It could feel like chest pain or pressure, indigestion, or a rapid heartbeat. Sudden cardiac arrest might happen during a heart attack, or it might occur separately. When its electrical system malfunctions, the heart starts beating too fast, making its chamber quiver and loses the ability to deliver blood. In many cases, individual experience sudden cardiac arrest experience no symptoms at all.

What’s the difference between inflammatory bowel disease and irritated bowel syndrome?

IBS is a functional disorder rather than a disease, meaning your digestive system isn’t working properly but looks normal with no identifiable cause for your bloating, cramps, and stool problems. IBD, on the hand, is more serious and is classified as a disease. Along with the systems associated with IBS, IBD can also be marked by ulcers, extreme fatigue, rectal bleeding, and more.

What’s the difference between a fracture, a sprain, and a strain?

A fracture is just another word for a broken bone, no matter how severe. Sprains aren’t bone-related, they occur when the ligament that keeps your bones in place are torn from being stretched too far. Strains happen when overstretching damages muscles or the tendons connecting muscle to the bone.

What’s the difference between an artery and a vein?

Your arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Veins then take that blood and return it to the heart for purification.

What’s the difference between an electrocardiogram and an echocardiogram?

Both are noninvasive tests performed to help identify heart problems. An EKG (electrocardiogram) represents the organ’s electrical activity as wavy lines on paper. Your doctor may use this type of test to check muscle and tissue damage, heartbeat irregularities, or chemical imbalances. An echo (echocardiogram) is an ultrasound that essentially creates a moving picture of your heart pumping to look for tumors, blood clots, infections, and more.

What’s the difference between acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD?

When acid splashes out of the stomach into the esophagus, acid reflux occurs. Heartburn is the sensation you feel in your chest as that happens. Severe or chronic acid reflux then becomes gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD can lead to serious complications like ulcers or cancer.

For more information contact your agent at Medicare Pathways at 866-466-9118 to learn more about if your Medicare Health plan covers prescription drugs or treatments for any of these conditions or tests.