Pneumonia: Glossary

Here are definitions of medical terms related to pneumonia.

Bronchoscopy: A procedure in which a lighted, tube-like instrument is passed into the large air passageways of the lungs.

Chlamydia: A type of bacteria that causes or is associated with various diseases of the eye, genitals, and urinary tract. It can sometimes cause pneumonia.

Cilia: Delicate hairs that act as filters in the nose and upper airway, using a wave-like motion.

Cyanosis: The blue discoloration of skin, nailbeds, and mucous membranes that indicates low level of oxygen in the blood.

Dyspnea: Difficulty breathing.

Endotracheal Tube: An open-ended tube that is placed within the trachea in order to maintain an open airway and allow assisted breathing.

Lung Biopsy: A test to obtain a specimen of lung tissue for examination. A needle, tube, or surgery is used to take the lung tissue sample.

Meningitis: An inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain. Meningitis is usually used to refer to a bacterial disease that causes the inflammation.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae: A specific kind of bacterium that can cause pneumonia.

Mucous: Sticky phlegm or liquid in the respiratory tract.

Pleura: The thin membranes that line the outside of each lung and the chest cavity.

Pleural effusion: Any accumulation of fluid between the layers of the pleura.

Pleural fluid: The fluid inside the membranes lining the lungs and chest cavity.

Pneumococcal vaccine: A killed or weakened form of the pneumococcus bacteria that is given in order to increase a person’s immunity to the pneumonia-causing bacteria.

Pulmonary Edema: An abnormal accumulation of fluid in the lungs.

Pus: A thick, opaque, and usually yellow-white fluid containing white blood cells, tissue debris, and microorganisms.

Rales (crackles): Clicking, bubbling, or rattling sounds that occur when air moves through fluid-filled airways.

Rhonchi: A coarse gurgling sound in the lungs that indicates the presence of thick fluid.

Spirometry: A test performed by breathing into an instrument called a spirometer, which records the amount and rate of air that is inhaled during a specified time. Some of the test measurements are obtained by normal breathing, and other tests require forced inhalation and/or exhalation.

Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus): The bacteria that most often cause pneumonia. About 40,000 pneumonia deaths in the United States each year can be traced to Streptococcus pneumonia.

Thoracentesis: Using a long, thin needle inserted between the ribs to remove fluid from the pleura.

Trachea: The main trunk of the hollow tube through which air passes on its way to and from the lungs.

Vaccination: Giving a killed or weakened virus or bacteria in order to stimulate the immune system to protect the person from that organism at next exposure.

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