POWERbreathe glossary of health and medical terms

Glossary of termsAs POWERbreathe is available on prescription and may be prescribed for specific respiratory illnesses or other medical conditions, we thought we’d put together a glossary of health and medical terms that you may come across. Our glossary is intended to be a quick and helpful guide and we hope you find it useful. If you would like to have a specific term included, please do comment below and we will add it to the list.


# – @ | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Occurring over a short time, usually a few minutes or hours. An acute exposure can result in short term or long term health effects. An acute effect happens within a short time after exposure.

A substance (such as a food or pollen) that your body perceives as dangerous and can cause an allergic reaction.

Abnormal reaction to a stimulus called an allergen. Allergy refers to the abnormal response of the airways to inhaled stimuli, such as pollen, or to consumed items, such as foods, that may cause unusual airway reactions and lead to bronchospasm.

Thin-walled, small sacs which are located at the ends of the smallest airways in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place.

Back To Index


Infectious organisms aka as germs that may cause respiratory illnessess such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

BIPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure) machine
A breathing machine that uses two pressure levels (inspiratory and expiratory) to provide you with breathing assistance. This machine is often used for patients with sleep apnea or respiratory failure. Here is what it looks like for those of you who have never seen one.

bipap machine







Is the medical term for the narrowing of the airways that occurs in an asthma attack.

Black pigment
This is the material that gives damaged human lungs a black and sooty appearance.

Back To Index


A small plastic tube that is used to supply extra oxygen through the nose.

Carbon dioxide
A colourless, odourless gas that is formed in tissues of the body and is delivered to the lungs for removal.

A substance which causes cancer

Something continuing over a certain period of time; long-term.

Back To Index


A form of medication that shrinks swollen nasal tissues to relieve symptoms of nasal swelling, congestion and mucus secretion.

The most efficient breathing muscle in our respiratory system, located at the base of the lungs.








Diaphragmatic breathing
The method of breathing which helps you use the diaphragm correctly so you use less effort and energy to breathe.

Back To Index


This is abnormal accumulation of fluid in the body tissues.

This is a chronic lung disease in which there is permanent destruction of the alveoli located at the end of the bronchial tubes. The damaged alveoli are not able to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and the blood. The bronchioles lose their elasticity and collapse during exhalation, trapping air in the lungs. The trapped air keeps fresh air and oxygen from entering the lungs.

Worsening of symptoms that you have

Back To Index


Is when you are physically or mentally exhausted. If the inspiratory muscle are weakened or fatigued, breathing feels harder. A useful analogy is to think about how much heavier a barbell feels on the 12th repetition than it did on the first.

Back To Index


Gas Exchange
This is the primary function of the lungs; the transfer of oxygen from inhaled air into the blood and of carbon dioxide from the blood into the lungs.

Back To Index


Heart failure
This is a condition caused by weakening of the heart muscle. The heart is strained and can not pump enough blood. Fluid can build up in the lungs and other parts of the body. Symptoms can include shortness of breath and swelling of the legs, ankles and feet.

High blood pressure
This is a condition (that usually has no symptoms) involving higher than normal pressure of the blood against the blood vessels. High blood pressure increases the risk of developing heart disease, a heart attack and a stroke.

Back To Index


Is the term used to the response of how our body tissues react to injury.  Typical signs are swelling, redness, and pain.

This is when the body is invaded by bacteria, virus and parasites which don’t normally exist in the body.

Back To Index


Back To Index


Back To Index


Lung Compliance
The change in lung volume per unit pressure change

Lung Volume
The amount of air the lungs can hold.

Back To Index