[ Browse by Service Category : Disabilities and Health Conditions : Sub-Topics of Health Conditions (587) ]

AIDS/HIV

Individuals who are at risk or have tested positive for infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), or have developed AIDS which is caused by the HIV virus and impairs the function of the body's immune system leaving affected individuals vulnerable to illnesses that would not otherwise occur.

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Allergies

A condition in which the individual has an acquired hypersensitivity to substances that normally do not cause a reaction. Manifestations most commonly involve the respiratory tract or skin and include eczema, hay fever, bronchial asthma, hives, inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane and nasal discharge.

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Alopecia

A condition in which there is hair loss, especially on the head, often in sharply defined patches. It can result from serious illness, drugs, endocrine disorders, certain forms of dermatitis, hereditary factors, radiation or physiological changes as a part of the aging process.

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Alzheimer's Disease

An age-related, non-reversible brain disorder that develops over a period of years. Initially, people experience memory loss and confusion, which may be mistaken for the kinds of memory changes that are sometimes associated with normal aging. The symptoms gradually lead to behaviour and personality changes, a decline in cognitive abilities such as decision-making and language skills and problems recognizing family and friends; and ultimately to a severe loss of mental function. Alzheimer's disease is one of a group of disorders called dementias that are characterized by cognitive and behavioural problems. It is the most common cause of dementia among people age 65 and older.

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

A syndrome, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, that is marked by muscular weakness and atrophy with spasticity and increased action of the reflexes due to degeneration of the motor neurons of the spinal cord, medulla and cortex.

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Anemia

A condition in which there is a beyond normal reduction in the number of circulating red blood cells, the amount of hemoglobin in the red blood cells, or the volume of packed red blood cells in the blood. Anemia may be caused by excessive blood loss, excessive blood cell destruction or decreased blood cell formation, and is characterized by weakness, vertigo, headaches, a sore tongue, drowsiness, pallor and general malaise.

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Apnea

A temporary cessation of breathing which may result from reduction in stimuli to the respiratory centre, as in overbreathing in which the carbon dioxide content of the blood is reduced; from failure of the respiratory centre to discharge impulses, as when the breath is held voluntarily; or during Cheyne-Stokes respiration.

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Arthritis

An inflammatory condition affecting the joints which is usually accompanied by pain and, frequently, by changes in bone and muscle positioning.

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Asthma

A disorder of the bronchial system that is characterized by laboured breathing accompanied by wheezing that is caused by a spasm of the bronchial tubes or by swelling of their mucous membrane. Recurrence and severity of attacks is influenced by secondary factors, mental or physical fatigue, exposure to fumes, endocrine changes at various periods in life and emotional situations.

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Ataxia

A condition that occurs when parts of the nervous system that control movement are damaged. People with ataxia experience a failure of muscle control in their arms and legs, resulting in a lack of balance and coordination or a disturbance of gait. While the term ataxia is primarily used to describe this set of symptoms, it is sometimes also used to refer to a family of disorders. It is not, however, a specific diagnosis. Most disorders that result in ataxia cause cells in the part of the brain called the cerebellum to degenerate, or atrophy. Sometimes the spine is also affected. Many ataxias are hereditary and are classified by chromosomal location and a pattern of inheritance. Among the more common inherited ataxias are Friedreich's ataxia and Machado-Joseph disease. Sporadic ataxias can also occur in families with no prior history. Ataxia can also be acquired. Conditions that can cause acquired ataxia include stroke, multiple sclerosis, tumours, alcoholism, peripheral neuropathy, metabolic disorders and vitamin deficiencies.

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Back Problems

Acute or chronic problems involving the back, the muscles of the back or their attachments in the lower lumbar, lumbosacral or sacroiliac areas, or the vertebral column.

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Balance Disorders

A group of disorders that impair the functioning of the human balance system which depends on the inner ear, the eyes, and the muscles and joints to transmit reliable information about the body’s movement and orientation. When the inner ear or other elements of the balance system are damaged, the result may be vertigo, dizziness and imbalance which make the individual susceptible to falling. Other symptoms include vision problems (difficulty focusing, light sensitivity, poor depth perception), hearing loss, tinnitus (a sensation that is often referred to as "ringing in the ears", although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping, or clicking), difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mental and/or physical fatigue, nausea and vomiting. Not all symptoms are experienced by every person with a balance disorder and additional symptoms are possible. Conditions that can lead to balance problems include bacterial or viral infections, head injuries, stroke, orthopedic injuries, osteoarthritis, neurological problems and problems that affect the blood supply to the inner ear. A number of problems associated with aging can also interfere with balance. These include cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration, all of which affect an individual’s vision; peripheral neuropathy, which affects position sense in the feet and legs; and vestibular-system degeneration. Treatment may include surgery to correct an inner ear problem, medication and/or vestibular rehabilitation therapy.

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Bladder Incontinence

A condition in which people are unable or unwilling to control their bladder function and urinate involuntarily during the night or the day after an age where continence is expected. The condition may have pathological or functional causes or may be a voluntary act that is representative of a behaviour pattern.

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Bowel Incontinence

An inability to retain feces that may be due to loss of sphincter control or cerebral or spinal lesions, or which may have causes not associated with an illness or organic defect. It is also associated with constipation, impaction and retention with subsequent overflow.

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Brain Disorders

Any of a variety of conditions that are characterized by significant impairment of brain tissue and resultant loss of brain function including degenerative illnesses (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke and other cerebrovascular accidents), genetic variations or mutations that affect the development and functioning of the brain either in utero or following birth, traumatic brain injury, post infection damage, brain tumours, and permanent damage that occurs as a result of seizures, substance toxicity or other disorders as well as conditions affecting the brain that are present prior to birth.

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Burns

Tissue injuries that are the result of excessive exposure to thermal, chemical, electrical or radioactive agents. The effects may be local resulting in cell injury or death, or both local and systemic involving primary shock (which occurs immediately after the injury and rarely is fatal) or secondary shock (which develops insidiously following severe burns and often is fatal).

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Cancer

Any of a broad group of malignant neoplasms which are either carcinomas which have their origin in epithelial tissues or sarcomas which develop from connective tissues and those structures which had their origin in mesodermal tissues (the muscular, skeletal, circulatory, lymphatic and urogenital systems and the linings of body cavities). Cancer is invasive and tends to metastasize to new sites spreading directly into surrounding tissues or through the lymphatic or circulatory systems.

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Celiac Disease

An intestinal malabsorption syndrome that causes malnutrition and results in a wide variety of symptoms including abdominal pain and distention, diarrhea, constipation, anemia, bone and joint pain, depression and headaches.

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CFIDS

A complex illness also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), chronic Epstein-Barr virus (CEBV), myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.) and "yuppie flu" that is characterized by incapacitating fatigue (experienced as exhaustion and extremely poor stamina), neurological problems, depression, anxiety, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, temporary memory loss, muscle aches and spasms, headaches, irritability, sore throat, sleep disturbances, fever and sensitivity to heat and light. The symptoms tend to wax and wane but are often severely debilitating and may last for many months or years.

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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

A group of diseases that includes asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and bronchiectasis which involve obstruction of an individual's airflow. The conditions may be chronic and irreversible or reversible but recurrent.

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Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate

A congenital fissure in the upper lip and/or the roof of the mouth which forms a communicating passageway between the mouth and nasal cavities. This condition may lead to articulation and voice problems.

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Common Ailments

Any of a variety of illnesses that are mild in nature and are generally short-lived.

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Congenital Conditions/Anomalies

Any of a wide variety of anomalies that are present at birth as opposed to acquired at some point later in life.

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Crohn's Disease

A regional inflammation of the ileum or the intestines.

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Cystic Fibrosis

An inherited disease that affects the pancreas, respiratory system and sweat glands, which usually begins in infancy and is characterized by chronic respiratory infection, pancreatic insufficiency and heat intolerance. Prognosis is poor as there is no cure, but antibiotics have prolonged the life of many patients.

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Dementia

An acquired reduction in mental capacity that is characterized by impairment of memory, judgment and intellectual functioning which is often accompanied by behavioural disturbances.

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Dental Problems

Diseases or other pathological conditions of the teeth, gums or oral cavity.

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Diabetes

A disorder in which the pancreas produces too little insulin with the result that the body is unable to adequately metabolize sugar. Principal symptoms are elevated blood sugar, sugar in the urine, excessive urine production and increased food intake. Complications of diabetes if left untreated include low resistance to infections leading to a susceptibility to gangrene, cardiovascular and kidney disorders, disturbances in the electrolyte balance and eye disorders, some of which may lead to blindness.

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Down Syndrome

A variety of congenital intellectual disability that is marked by sloping forehead, presence of epicanthal folds, gray or very light yellow spots at the periphery of the iris, short broad hands with a single palmar crease, a flat nose or absent bridge, low-set ears and generally dwarfed physique.

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Dystonia Musculum Deformans

A disorder that is characterized by distorted twisting or movement of all or a part of the body which may be caused by toxic or infectious diseases of the nervous system or be of unknown etiology.

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Epilepsy

A recurrent paroxysmal disorder of cerebral function that is characterized by sudden, brief interruptions in or complete loss of consciousness, motor activity and/or sensory phenomena. The seizures are caused by disruptions in the electrical and physiochemical activity of the brain.

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Facial Disorders/Disfigurements

Any of a variety of diseases or conditions that affect the skull, facial structure and features.

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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

A continuum of permanent birth defects caused by maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, the effects of which can include physical problems and problems with behaviour and learning. A person with FASD might have abnormal facial features, small head size, shorter than average height, low body weight, poor coordination, hyperactivity, difficulty paying attention, poor memory, difficulty in school (especially with math), learning disabilities, speech and language delays, intellectual disability or low IQ, poor reasoning and judgment skills, sleep and sucking problems as a baby, vision and hearing problems and/or problems with the heart, kidneys or bones. Different terms are used to describe FASDs depending on the type of symptoms. Included are Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which represents the severe end of the FASD spectrum and is characterized by abnormal facial features, growth problems and central nervous system (CNS) problems; Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) which is characterized by intellectual disabilities and problems with behaviour and learning; and Alcohol Related Birth Defects (ARBD) which is characterized by problems with the heart, kidneys or bones and/or with hearing. Alcohol Related Birth Defects (ARBD) was previously known as Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE).

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Fibromyalgia

A condition that is characterized by chronic pain in tendons, ligaments and muscles surrounding joints. Other symptoms include muscle spasms, fatigue, stiffness, abnormal sleep patterns with unrefreshing sleep, headaches and, occasionally, depression. There is significant overlap with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFIDS) in which fibromyalgia may arise as a secondary disease process. The cause of the condition is unknown.

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Genetic Disorders

Any of a number of illnesses or conditions that are the direct result of the mutation of one or more genes. Some genetic disorders are hereditary, transmitted from parent to offspring, but others occur spontaneously and are not familial in origin.

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Growth Disorders/Stature Issues

Any of a variety of conditions in which individuals are shorter or taller than expected for their age and gender. Included are children who have experienced poor growth or rapid or excessive growth due to endocrine disorders, systemic diseases, congenital conditions, poor nutrition or other conditions; and people with normal growth patterns who happen to be exceptionally short or tall.

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Heart Disease

Any of a number of pathological conditions that affect the heart and the blood vessels of the heart.

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Hemochromatosis

A rare disease of iron metabolism in which iron accumulates in body tissue causing liver enlargement, skin pigmentation, diabetes and, frequently, cardiac failure.

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Hemophilia

A hereditary blood disease that affects males and is characterized by greatly prolonged coagulation time. The blood fails to clot and abnormal bleeding occurs. Hemophilia is a sex-linked hereditary trait which is transmitted by normal females who carry the recessive gene.

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Hepatitis

An inflammation of the liver caused by a variety of agents including viral infection (hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and delta agents), bacterial invasion and physical and chemical agents. Symptoms are fever, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, malaise, muscle and joint pain, headache, photophobia, cough followed by jaundice and an enlarged liver. Hepatitis A and delta agent hepatitis are spread primarily from person to person via the fecal-oral route, but may occur by contact with water or food contaminated by the virus. Hepatitis B and C are spread by blood and serum-derived fluids and by direct contact with body fluids.

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High Risk Infants/Children

Infants and children who are at risk for developmental delays or other problems because of congenital abnormalities; perinatal medical complications including anoxia, low birth weight, prematurity, respiratory distress syndrome, or metabolic or central nervous system disorders; medical problems that have their onset following birth; or environmental factors including elements of risk that relate to the mother (minimal education, lack of prenatal care, history of drug abuse, pregnancy when younger than age 18 or older than age 35, having a developmental disability, having a sexually transmitted disease) or lack of appropriate stimulation during infancy and early childhood due to neglect, poverty or social isolation.

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Huntington's Disease

An inherited disease of the central nervous system which usually has its onset in people age 25 to 55. The individual has progressive dementia with bizarre involuntary muscular twitching of the limbs or facial muscles. The posture is abnormal. The disease slowly progresses and death is usually due to an intercurrent infection.

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Hydrocephalus

A condition in which there is an increased accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the ventricles of the brain due to an interruption in the flow of the fluid which may have been caused by developmental anomalies, infection, injury or brain tumours. The condition results in enlargement of the skull and may cause damage to the brain.

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Hypertension

A condition in which the patient has a higher blood pressure than normal. In general, if on several separate occasions the systolic pressure is above 140 or the diastolic is above 90, the person is considered to have elevated blood pressure.

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Hyperthyroidism

A condition that is caused by excessive secretion of the thyroid glands which raises the basal metabolic rate causing an increased demand for food to support the metabolic activity. Symptoms include goiter, a fine tremor of the extended fingers and tongue, increased nervousness, weight loss, altered bowel activity, excessive sweating and increased heart rate.

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Hypothyroidism

A condition that is due to deficiency of the thyroid secretion which results in a lowered basal metabolism. Symptoms include obesity, low blood pressure, slow pulse, sluggishness of all functions, depressed motor activity and dry skin and hair, both of which become dull.

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Infertility

A condition that is characterized by the inability or diminished ability of one or both partners to produce children.

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Influenza

An acute, contagious respiratory infection that is characterized by sudden onset, high fever, chills, headache, muscle soreness, and sometimes prostration. Nasal discharge, cough and sore throat are also common; and stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, but are more often seen in children than adults. Most people recover from the flu in a few days to less than two weeks. People age 65 years and older, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children are more likely to get complications from influenza.

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Kidney Disease

Any of a number of pathological conditions of the kidneys, the organs that are responsible for urination and for helping to regulate the water, electrolyte and acid-base content of the blood.

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Laryngectomy

The surgical removal of the larynx.

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Leukemia

A chronic or acute disease of unknown etiological factors that is characterized by unrestrained growth of leukocytes (white blood corpuscles) and their precursors in the tissues. Leukemia is classified according to the dominant cell type and the severity of the disease.

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Liver Disease

Any of a variety of disorders of the liver, the largest organ in the body which has a major role in a wide variety of vital metabolic functions.

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Lung Disease

Any of a variety of disorders of the lungs, pleural cavity, bronchial tubes, trachea, upper respiratory tract or the associated nerves and muscles that are responsible for breathing. Included are obstructive pulmonary diseases such as emphysema and asthma that involve narrowing or blockage of the airways which carry oxygen and other gases into and out of the lungs; restrictive lung diseases such as sarcoidosis and asbestosis that result in incomplete lung expansion and a reduction in the ability of the lungs to take up oxygen and release carbon dioxide; upper and lower respiratory tract infections; benign and malignant tumors affecting the lungs and associated tissue; and pulmonary vascular diseases such as pulmonary hypertension or pulmonary edema that affect pulmonary circulation.

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Lupus Erythematosus

Lupus, in its cutaneous form, is a chronic disease of unknown etiology which causes skin lesions on the face, neck and upper extremities. In its systemic form, lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease of the connective tissue, of unknown etiology which affects the skin, joints, kidneys, nervous system and mucous membranes. A characteristic butterfly rash may be present across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose.

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Lyme Disease

A debilitating and painful disease of the nervous system and joints which sometimes leads to heart problems, meningitis and chronic arthritis. The disease is caused by the spirochete bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans by the bite of a tick.

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Lymphedema

An abnormal accumulation of lymph in the tissues which causes swelling of a limb.

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Lymphoma

Any of a variety of cancers that develop in the lymph system, a network of thin vessels and nodes throughout the body which filter the blood and help fight disease and infection. The site of the malignant transformation is usually a lymph node but may be the lymphatic tissue of the marrow, gastrointestinal tract, spleen, skin or other sites. The disease results from the uncontrolled growth and accumulation of malignant lymphocytes. Enlargement of affected lymph nodes is usually the principal manifestation.

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Meningitis

An inflammation of the membranes of the spinal cord or brain which may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Acute meningitis is marked by a moderate and irregular fever, loss of appetite, constipation, intense headache, intolerance to light and sound, contracted pupils, delirium, retraction of the head, convulsions and coma. Viral meningitis is generally less severe and may resolve itself without specific treatment whereas the bacterial form may be quite severe, can be transmitted to others and may result in brain damage, hearing loss and other long-term problems.

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Menopause

The permanent cessation of fertility and menstrual activity in women, usually between the ages of 40 and 58 but most often after age 45. Menopause typically occurs in three stages: perimenopause, the span of time preceding menopause when the menstrual cycle is irregular and menopausal symptoms (decreased fertility, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and mood swings) are often experienced; menopause, the point in time when a woman has experienced her last period which is generally established retrospectively when the individual has gone 12 consecutive months without a period; and postmenopause, the years following menopause after the ovaries have become inactive during which menopausal symptoms typically decrease.

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Multiple Sclerosis

A chronic, slowly progressive disease of the central nervous system in which the myelin sheath which covers the nerves hardens, resulting in difficulties with muscle control, involuntary movements of the eyeballs, speech problems and tremor. Multiple sclerosis is marked by a history of remissions and exacerbations.

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Muscular Dystrophy

A group of genetic diseases that are characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement. There are many forms of muscular dystrophy, some noticeable at birth (congenital muscular dystrophy), others in adolescence (Becker MD), but the three most common types are Duchenne, facioscapulohumeral, and myotonic which differ in terms of pattern of inheritance, age of onset, rate of progression, and distribution of weakness. Duchenne MD primarily affects boys and is the result of mutations in the gene that regulates dystrophin, a protein involved in maintaining the integrity of muscle fibre. Onset is between three to five years and progresses rapidly. Most boys become unable to walk at age 12, and by age 20 have to use a respirator to breathe. Facioscapulohumeral MD appears in adolescence and causes progressive weakness in facial muscles and certain muscles in the arms and legs. It progresses slowly and can vary in symptoms from mild to disabling. Myotonic MD varies in the age of onset and is characterized by myotonia (prolonged muscle spasm) in the fingers and facial muscles; a floppy-footed, high-stepping gait; cataracts; cardiac abnormalities; and endocrine disturbances. Individuals with myotonic MD have long faces and drooping eyelids; men have frontal baldness.

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Neurofibromatosis

A genetic disorder that affects the cell growth of neural tissue and is characterized by tumours of various sizes on the peripheral nerves.

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Obesity

A condition in which an individual has an abnormal amount of fat on the body. The term is not applied unless a person is from 20 to 30% overweight for his or her age, gender and height.

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Orphan Diseases

Any of a variety of pathological conditions whose occurrence is so rare that research regarding treatment has not been a priority.

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Osteoporosis

A condition, usually seen in people who are elderly, which is marked by increased porosity or weakness of the bones. The condition becomes apparent when the osteoporosis has progressed to the stage at which a bone fractures in a situation that would not normally damage the skeleton.

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Pain

A condition in which the individual suffers from physical discomfort of various levels of intensity that arises from tissue damage.

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Parasites/Worms/Lice

Any of a variety of pathological conditions that are caused by organisms like protozoa, worms, ticks, fleas, lice, the microscopic mite Sarcoptes scabei which causes scabies or other parasites that live within, upon or at the expense of another organism, known as the host, without contributing to the survival of the host.

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Parkinson's Disease

One of a group of conditions called motor system disorders which result from loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Symptoms of PD include tremor (trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face), rigidity (stiffness of the limbs and trunk); bradykinesia (slowness of movement) and postural instability (impaired balance and coordination). As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks. The disease usually affects people over the age of 50, can be difficult to diagnose accurately and may require brain scans or laboratory tests to rule out other conditions.

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People with Chronic Illnesses

Individuals who have serious medical conditions that have persisted over a long period of time or are subject to frequent recurrences, are treatable but rarely cured completely and require persistent self-management behaviours. Chronic illnesses may be life-long in duration and/or progressive in nature; and many are marked by sudden flare-ups that can be caused by stress or other factors. Medicine and other treatments can often help people with chronic illness lead a normal life, although many require long-term care.

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Podiatric/Foot Problems

Any of a variety of conditions that affect the feet. Included are corns and calluses, bunions, ingrown toenails, plantar warts that occur on the bottoms of the feet, plantar fasciitis (microscopic tears can occur within the plantar fascia, usually at its attachment on the heel), bacterial and fungal infections, skin and nail disorders, benign and cancerous tumors, congenital and acquired foot deformities and foot problems caused by illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular diseases.

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Poliomyelitis

An inflammation of the gray matter of the spinal cord which often produces paralysis of the muscles that are controlled by the spinal nerves that were damaged by the illness.

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Postpolio Syndrome

A syndrome experienced by polio survivors sometimes 30 years after the onset of the illness that is characterized by new symptoms of muscle and joint pain and weakness, fatigue and, in some cases, major loss of function including loss of self-care independence and community mobility. The cause of the syndrome is unknown, but accumulated strain from chronic muscle overuse is one possible explanation.

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Prader-Willi Syndrome

A rare, incurable genetic disorder that is characterized by short stature; lack of muscle tone, size and strength; poor motor skills; underdeveloped or small genitals; an insatiable appetite that can lead to obesity if untreated; mild intellectual disabilities; and learning disabilities. Babies with PWS are usually floppy with poor muscle tone, and have trouble suckling. Boys may have undescended testicles. Other signs appear later.

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Pregnancy/Birth Problems

Any of a number of complications during pregnancy or delivery which negatively affect the health of the mother or child.

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Rabies

An acute infectious disease of warm-blooded mammals, especially carnivores, that is characterized by involvement of the central nervous system which results in paralysis and finally death. Symptoms include general malaise, depression of spirits or intense excitement and aggressiveness, respiratory problems, swelling of the lymph nodes near the wound, muscular spasms, fever, vomiting, unusual saliva and the presence of serum protein in the urine. The disease is usually transmitted to humans through bites from affected animals such as raccoons, dogs, foxes and bats.

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Radiation Sickness

Illness that results from exposure to radioactive substances (radium or radon), roentgen rays or explosion of an atomic bomb. Mild acute illness is manifested by anorexia, headache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Delayed effects resulting from repeated or prolonged exposure may result in absence or suppression of menstruation, sterility, disturbances in blood cell formation, cataract formation, carcinogenesis and leukemia. Effects from the explosion of an atomic bomb include destruction of lymphatic tissue, extensive hemorrhages, aplastic bone marrow, prolonged clotting and bleeding times, loss of hair and teeth and possible genetic changes.

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Rheumatoid Spondylitis

A chronic progressive disease involving the joints between auricular processes, costovertegral joints and sacroiliac joints which lie between the hipbones and the sacrum.

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Rubella

An acute infectious disease that resembles both scarlet fever and measles, which is characterized by a slight fever, sore throat and a rash which begins on the face, spreads rapidly over the whole body, and fades quickly. Rubella in pregnant women, especially in the first two or three months of gestation, may cause serious birth defects including intellectual disabilities, deafness, congenital cataracts and heart problems.

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SARS

An infection that is characterized by a fever of at least 38 degrees Celsius followed by respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Other symptoms may include muscle aches, headaches and a sore throat. In some cases, the respiratory symptoms become severe enough that patients require oxygen support and mechanical ventilation. The disease is spread by close personal contact with an infected individual.

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Scleroderma

A chronic disease of unknown etiology which causes sclerosis or hardening of the skin and certain organs including the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, heart and kidneys.

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Sexually Transmitted Disease

Any of a variety of diseases that are acquired as a result of sexual activity with an individual who is infected.

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Shingles

Shingles (herpes zoster) is an acute infectious viral disease that is marked by inflammation of nerve tissue and eruption of herpetic blisters, usually on the trunk of the body along a peripheral nerve, but the face may also be involved. The pain, which can be quite severe, may persist after the rash heals for months, or, rarely, for years. The virus may cause meningitis, affect the optic nerve, or affect hearing. The herpes zoster virus is the chickenpox (varicella) virus that has remained in the nerves after recovery from chickenpox. It may be reactivated by the diminishing capacity of the immune system that comes with age or the physiological stress of disease.

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Sleep Disorders

Any of a variety of conditions in which the patient has difficulty falling or staying asleep, abnormal behaviours during sleep or trouble staying awake during the day.

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Spina Bifida

A congenital defect in the walls of the spinal canal caused by lack of union between the laminae of the vertebrae. As a result of this deficiency, the membranes of the cord are pushed through the opening forming the spina bifida tumour.

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Spinal Cord Injuries

Trauma or damage to the column of nervous tissue that extends from the medulla to the second lumbar vertebra in the spinal canal. All nerves to the trunk and limbs are issued from the spinal cord, and it is the centre of reflex action containing the conducting paths to and from the brain.

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Stroke

A sudden loss of consciousness followed by paralysis which is caused by hemorrhage into the brain, formulation of a blood clot or mass of undissolved matter in the blood that occludes an artery, or rupture of an extracerebral artery causing hemorrhaging in the membranes which enclose the brain and spinal cord.

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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

The completely unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently well or virtually well infant.

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Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome

Severe aching pain affecting the head, jaw and face that is believed to result when the temporomandibular joints and the muscles and ligaments that control and support them do not work together correctly. Tinnitis, pain that is made worse by chewing and deafness may also be present.

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Teratogenesis

The development of abnormal structures in an embryo and severe deformities in a fetus, often as the result of exposure of the mother during pregnancy to environmental agents including drugs, chemicals, pollutants or infections which are known to harm a developing embryo or fetus.

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Tinnitus

A condition in which there the perception of sound in one or both ears or in the head when no external sound is present. It is often referred to as "ringing in the ears", although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping, or clicking. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant, with single or multiple tones, and its perceived volume can range from subtle to shattering. Causes may include noise-induced hearing loss, wax build-up in the ear canal, ear or sinus infections, jaw misalignment, cardiovascular disease, head or neck trauma, certain types of tumours, a side effect of some medications or as a symptom of disorders such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, lyme disease and fibromyalgia.  

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Tourette's Syndrome

A neurological movement disorder which begins when the individual is age two to 16 and is characterized by rapidly repetitive muscular movements called "tics" including rapid eye blinking, shoulder shrugging, head jerking, facial twitches or other torso/limb movements; and involuntary vocalizations including repeated sniffing, throat clearing, coughing, grunting, barking or shrieking.

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Tuberculosis

An infectious disease that is caused by the tubercle bacillus and characterized by inflammatory infiltrations, formation of lesions, necrosis, abscesses, formation of scar tissue and calcification. The disease most commonly affects the respiratory system but may also involve the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts, bones, joints, nervous system, lymph nodes and skin.

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Turner Syndrome

A congenital endocrine disorder that is caused by failure of the ovaries to respond to pituitary hormone stimulation which, in turn, causes failure in sexual maturation and usually short stature. About one third of patients have webbing of the neck and lateral deviation of the arms (cubitus valgus). Intelligence may be impaired.

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Ulcerative Colitis

A type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the large intestine (colon) and rectum. The disease usually begins in the rectal area and may eventually extend through the entire large intestine. Repeated swelling (inflammation) leads to thickening of the wall of the intestine and rectum with scar tissue. Death of colon tissue or severe infection may occur with severe disease. Symptoms include abdominal pain and cramping that generally disappear following a bowel movement, gurgling or other abdominal sounds, fever, rectal pain and weight loss.

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Von Willebrand's Disease

An inherited congenital bleeding disorder that is caused by a deficiency of coagulation factor VIII, a protein that affects platelet function. The bleeding tendency manifests at an early age and is characterized by nose bleeds, easy bruising and, rarely, the appearance of small, purplish hemorrhagic spots on the skin. Bleeding in the intestinal tract during surgery and excess loss of blood during menstruation are common. The symptoms decrease in severity with age and during pregnancy. The disease is equally prevalent in men and women.

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West Nile Virus

A mosquito-borne infectious disease that causes mild, flu-like symptoms in healthy people and serious inflammations of the brain and spinal cord in people who are elderly or have compromised immune systems. The virus also affects birds and equines.

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The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.


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