Articles

Find answers to your health-related questions in our Ilustrated Health Encyclopedia

  • Disease

    Ulcerative colitis

    There are 4 basic tests for colon cancer: a stool test (to check for blood); sigmoidoscopy (inspection of the lower colon; colonoscopy (inspection of the entire colon); and double contrast barium enema. All 4 are effective in catching cancers in the early stages, when treatment is most beneficial.

    Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum. is a related condition.

  • Symptoms

    Ulcers

    An ulcer is a crater-like lesion on the skin or mucous membrane caused by an inflammatory, infectious, or malignant condition. To avoid irritating an ulcer a person can try eliminating certain substances from their diet such as caffeine, alcohol, aspirin, and avoid smoking.  Patients can take certain medicines to suppress the acid in the stomach causing the the erosion of the stomach lining.  Endoscopic therapy can be used to stop bleeding from the ulcer.

    An ulcer is a crater-like sore on the skin or . Ulcers form when the top layers of skin or tissue have been removed. They can occur in the mouth, stomach, and other parts of the body.

  • Disease

    Ulnar nerve dysfunction

    The ulnar nerve originates from the brachial plexus and travels down arm.  The nerve is commonly injured at the elbow because of elbow fracture or dislocation. The ulnar nerve is near the surface of the body where it crosses the elbow, so prolonged pressure on the elbow or entrapment of the nerve may cause damage. Damage to the ulnar nerve may involve impaired movement or sensation in the wrist and hand.

    Ulnar nerve dysfunction is a problem with the nerve that travels from the shoulder to the hand. This is called the ulnar nerve. It helps you move your hand and wrist.

  • Test

    Ultrasound

    Abdominal ultrasound is a scanning technique used to image the interior of the abdomen. Like the X-ray, MRI, and CT scan, it has its place as a diagnostic tool. Ultrasound scans use high frequency sound waves to produce an image and do not expose the individual to radiation. The procedure is painless and safe.

    Ultrasound involves the use of high-frequency sound waves to create images of organs and systems within the body.

  • Special Topic

    Umbilical catheters

    Umbilical catheter

    A catheter is a long, soft, hollow tube. Catheters vary in size. An umbilical catheter is used for different reasons. An umbilical artery catheter (UAC) allows blood to be taken from an infant at different times, without repeated needle sticks. It can be used to continuously monitor your ...

  • Special Topic

    Umbilical cord care in newborns

    The umbilical cord connects the baby to the mother's placenta. During fetal development in the womb, the umbilical cord is the lifeline to the baby supplying nutrients. After birth, the cord is clamped and cut. Eventually between 1-3 weeks the cord will become dry and will naturally fall off. During the time the cord is healing it should be kept as clean and as dry as possible.

  • Disease

    Umbilical hernia

    An umbilical hernia is a protrusion of the peritoneum and fluid, omentum, or a portion of abdominal organ(s) through the umbilical ring.  The umbilical ring is the fibrous and muscle tissue around the navel (belly-button). Small hernias usually close spontaneously without treatment by age 1 or 2. Umbilical hernias are usually painless and are common in infants.

    An umbilical hernia is an outward bulging (protrusion) of the abdominal lining or part of the abdominal organ(s) through the area around the belly button.

  • Surgery

    Umbilical hernia repair

    Umbilical hernia repair is surgery to repair an . An umbilical hernia is a sac (pouch) formed from the inner lining of your belly (abdominal cavity) that pushes through a hole in the abdominal wall at the belly button.

  • Injury

    Unconsciousness - first aid

    Unconsciousness is when a person is unable to respond to people and activities. Often, this is called a coma or being in a comatose state. Other changes in awareness can occur without becoming unconscious. Medically, these are called “altered mental status” or “changed mental ...

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Understanding cholesterol results

    Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance that is present in all parts of the body including the nervous system, skin, muscle, liver, intestines, and heart. It is made by the body and obtained from animal products in the diet.  Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver and is needed for normal body functions including the production of hormones, bile acid, and Vitamin D.  Excessive cholesterol in the blood contributes to atherosclerosis and subsequent heart disease. The risk of developing heart disease or atherosclerosis increases as the level of blood cholesterol increases.

    Cholesterol test results; LDL test results; VLDL test results; HDL test results

  • Disease

    Undescended testicle

    The male reproductive structures include the penis, the scrotum, the seminal vesicles and the prostate.

    Undescended occurs when one or both testicles fail to move into the before birth.

  • Surgery

    Undescended testicle repair

    The male reproductive structures include the penis, the scrotum, the seminal vesicles and the prostate.

    repair is surgery to correct testicles that have not dropped down into the correct position in the scrotum.

  • Disease

    Unilateral hydronephrosis

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Unilateral hydronephrosis is swelling of one kidney due to a backup of urine. See also:

  • Disease

    Unstable angina

    Angina is a specific type of pain in the chest caused by inadequate blood flow through the blood vessels (coronary vessels) of the heart muscle (myocardium).

    Unstable angina is a condition in which your heart doesn’t get enough blood flow and oxygen. It may lead to a heart attack. Angina is a type of chest discomfort caused by poor blood flow through the blood vessels (coronary vessels) of the heart muscle (myocardium).

  • Disease

    UPJ obstruction

    The kidneys are responsible for removing wastes from the body, regulating electrolyte balance and blood pressure, and stimulating red blood cell production.

    Ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction is a blockage at the point where part of the kidney attaches to one of the tubes to the bladder (ureters). This blocks the flow of urine out of the kidney.

  • Test

    Upper airway biopsy

    An upper airway biopsy is obtained by using a flexible scope called a bronchoscope.  The scope is passed down through the mouth and throat and a small piece of tissue is removed and sent to the laboratory. This test may be performed when an abnormality of the upper airway is suspected. It may also be performed as part of a bronchoscopy when abnormalities include the upper airway as well as the lung tissue.

    Upper airway biopsy is surgery in which a small piece of tissue is removed from the nose, mouth, and throat area for examination.

  • Test

    Upper GI and small bowel series

    An upper GI series is performed to examine the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. The purpose of the test is to detect abnormalities in those areas.

    An upper GI and small bowel series is a set of taken to examine the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. is a related test.

  • Test

    Urea nitrogen - urine

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Urine urea nitrogen is a measure of protein breakdown in the body. A test can be done to measure the amount of urea in the urine.

  • Test

    Ureteral retrograde brush biopsy

    The kidneys are responsible for removing wastes from the body, regulating electrolyte balance and blood pressure, and stimulating red blood cell production.

    Ureteral retrograde brush biopsy is a procedure in which tissue from the lining of the kidney or ureter (tube that connects a kidney to the bladder) is removed for examination.

  • Disease

    Ureterocele

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    A ureterocele is a swelling at the bottom of one of the tubes (ureters) that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder. The swollen area can block urine flow. A ureterocele is a birth defect.

  • Test

    Urethral discharge culture

    Urethral discharge culture is a laboratory test done on men and boys to identify infection-causing germs in the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder) and genital tract.

  • Disease

    Urethral stricture

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Urethral stricture is an abnormal narrowing of the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder (urethra).

  • Disease

    Urethritis

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Urethritis is swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the body.

  • Disease

    Urge incontinence

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Urge incontinence is the strong, sudden need to urinate due to bladder spasms or contractions.

  • Test

    Uric acid - blood

    Blood is drawn from a vein (venipuncture), usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an air-tight vial or a syringe. Preparation may vary depending on the specific test.

    Uric acid is a chemical created when the body breaks down substances called purines. Purines are found in some foods and drinks. These includeliver, anchovies, mackerel, dried beans and peas, and beer. Most uric acid dissolves in blood and travels to the kidneys. From there, it passes out in urine. ...

  • Test

    Uric acid - urine

    Urea nitrogen urine test is performed to check for the amount of urea in urine.  Urine is collected over a 24 hour period and is sent to the laboratory for testing.  This test is mainly used to assess the amount of dietary protein needed by severely ill patients.

    Uric acid is a chemical created when the body breaks down substances called purines. Purines are found in some foods and drinks, such as liver, anchovies, mackerel, dried beans and peas, beer, and wine. Purines are also a part of normal body substances, such as DNA. Most uric acid dissolves in blood ...

  • Test

    Urinalysis

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Urinalysis is the physical, chemical, and microscopic examination of urine. It involves a number of tests to detect and measure various compounds that pass through the urine.

  • Test

    Urinary casts

    The urinary system is made up of the kidneys, ureters, urethra and bladder.

    Urinary casts are tiny tube-shaped particles made up of white blood cells, red blood cells, or kidney cells. They form in kidney structures called tubules. Casts are held together by a protein released by the kidney. The content of a cast can tell your health care provider whether your urine is ...

  • Special Topic

    Urinary catheter - infants

    A urinary catheter is a small, soft tube placed in the bladder. WHY IS A URINARY CATHETER USED? A catheter may be needed if your baby is making only small amounts of urine. This could be because your baby has low blood pressure or an abnormally developed urinary system, or uses medicine that ...

  • Special Topic

    Urinary catheters

    A urinary catheter is a tube placed in the body to drain and collect urine from the bladder.

  • Questions To Ask Your Doctor

    Urinary catheters - what to ask your doctor

    You have an indwelling catheter (tube) in your bladder. This means the tube is inside your body. This catheter drains urine from your bladder into a bag outside your body. Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you take care of your catheter.

  • Symptoms

    Urinary incontinence

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Urinary (or bladder) incontinence happens when you are not able to keep urine from leaking out of your urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your body from your bladder. You may leak urine from time to time. Or, you may not be able to hold any urine.The three main types of urinary incontinence ...

  • Surgery

    Urinary incontinence - injectable implant

    Injectable implants are injections of material into the urethra to help control urine leakage () caused by a weak urinary sphincter. The sphincter is a muscle that allows your body to hold the urine in the bladder. If your sphincter muscle stops working well you will have urine leakage.

  • Surgery

    Urinary incontinence - retropubic suspension

    Retropubic suspension is surgery to help control . This is urine leakage that happens when you laugh, cough, sneeze, lift things, or exercise. The surgery helps close your urethra and bladder neck. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside. The bladder neck is the ...

  • Surgery

    Urinary incontinence - tension-free vaginal tape

    Placement of tension-free vaginal tape is surgery to help control . This is urine leakage that happens when you laugh, cough, sneeze, lift things, or exercise. The surgery helps close your urethra and bladder neck. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside. The ...

  • Surgery

    Urinary incontinence - vaginal sling procedures

    Vaginal sling procedures are types of surgeries that help control . This is urine leakage that happens when you laugh, cough, sneeze, lift things, or exercise. A vaginal sling procedure helps close your urethra and bladder neck. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the ...

  • Questions To Ask Your Doctor

    Urinary incontinence - what to ask your doctor

    You have urinary incontinence. This means that you are not able to keep urine from leaking from your urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your body from your bladder. Urinary incontinence may occur as you get older. It can also develop after a surgery or childbirth. You can do many things to ...

  • Special Topic

    Urinary incontinence products

    The urinary system is made up of the kidneys, ureters, urethra and bladder.

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Urinary incontinence products - self-care

    Adult diapers; Disposable urinary collection devices

  • Disease

    Urinary tract infection - adults

    Appropriate hygiene and cleanliness of the genital area may help reduce the chances of introducing bacteria through the urethra. Females are especially vulnerable to this, because the urethra is in close proximity to the rectum. The genitals should be cleaned and wiped from front to back to reduce the chance of dragging E. coli bacteria from the rectal area to the urethra.

    A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is an infection that can happen anywhere along the urinary tract. Urinary tract infections have different names, depending on what part of the urinary tract is infected. Bladder — an infection in the bladder is also called cystitis or a bladder ...

  • Disease

    Urinary tract infection - children

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary tract. This article discusses UTIs in children. The urinary tract includes the: Bladder Kidneys Ureters — the tubes that take urine from each kidney to the bladder Urethra — the tube that empties urine from the bladder to the ...

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Urinary tract infection in children - aftercare

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Urinary tract infection in children - aftercare

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Urinary tract infection in women - self-care

  • Symptoms

    Urination - difficulty with flow

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Difficulty starting or maintaining a urine stream is called urinary hesitancy.

  • Symptoms

    Urination - excessive at night

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Excessive urination at night is a condition in which you wake up several times during the night to urinate. Waking up at night to urinate is called nocturia.

  • Symptoms

    Urination - excessive volume

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Excessive volume of urination means that you release abnormally large amounts of urine each day. The medical term for this condition is polyuria.

  • Symptoms

    Urination - painful

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Painful urination describes any pain, discomfort, or burning sensation when passing urine.

  • Symptoms

    Urine - abnormal color

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Urine of an abnormal color appears different from the usual straw-yellow color. Abnormally colored urine may be cloudy, dark, or blood-colored. See also:

  • Symptoms

    Urine - bloody

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Blood in your urine, or hematuria, is blood that is found in your urine. It can be microscopic or gross. Microscopic hematuria is when there is very little blood in the urine and it can only be detected with urine tests or under a microscope. Gross hematuria is when there is enough blood in the ...

  • Test

    Urine 24-hour volume

    A "clean-catch" urine sample is performed by collecting the sample of urine in midstream. Men or boys should wipe clean the head of the penis. Women or girls need to wash the area between the lips of the vagina with soapy water and rinse well. A small amount of urine should initially fall into the toilet bowl before it is collected (this clears the urethra of contaminants). Then, in a clean container, catch about 1 to 2 ounces of urine and remove the container from the urine stream. The container is then given to the health care provider.

    The urine 24-hour volume test measures the amount of urine produced in a day.

  • Test

    Urine chemistry

    Urine is the liquid waste product excreted by the kidneys.  It is stored in the bladder until it is emptied out through the urethra.

    Urine chemistry is a group of one or more tests done to check the chemical content of a urine sample.

  • Test

    Urine collection - infants

    Urine collection – infants refers to the method of getting a urine sample from a baby for testing purposes. It is usually done in a doctor’s office, but can be done at home.

  • Test

    Urine concentration test

    The urine concentration test is a test that measures whether the kidneys are conserving or excreting water properly.  A sample of urine is retrieved and tested for its specific gravity.

    A urine concentration test measures the ability of the kidneys to conserve or excrete water appropriately. See also:

  • Test

    Urine culture

    A "clean-catch" urine sample is performed by collecting the sample of urine in midstream. Men or boys should wipe clean the head of the penis. Women or girls need to wash the area between the lips of the vagina with soapy water and rinse well. A small amount of urine should initially fall into the toilet bowl before it is collected (this clears the urethra of contaminants). Then, in a clean container, catch about 1 to 2 ounces of urine and remove the container from the urine stream. The container is then given to the health care provider.

    A urine culture is a lab test to check for bacteria or other germs in a urine sample. See also:

  • Test

    Urine culture - catheterized specimen

    A catheter (a hollow tube, often with an inflatable balloon tip) may be inserted into the urinary bladder when there is a urinary obstruction, following surgical procedures to the urethra, in unconscious patients (due to surgical anesthesia, coma, etc.), or for any other problem in which the bladder needs to be kept empty (decompressed) and urinary flow assured.

    Catheterized specimen urine culture is a laboratory test that looks for germs in a urine sample.

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Urine drainage bags

    Leg bag

  • Test

    Urine drug screen

    A "clean-catch" urine sample is performed by collecting the sample of urine in midstream. Men or boys should wipe clean the head of the penis. Women or girls need to wash the area between the lips of the vagina with soapy water and rinse well. A small amount of urine should initially fall into the toilet bowl before it is collected (this clears the urethra of contaminants). Then, in a clean container, catch about 1 to 2 ounces of urine and remove the container from the urine stream. The container is then given to the health care provider.

    A urine drug screen is used to detect illegal and some prescription drugs in the urine.

  • Test

    Urine melanin

    A "clean-catch" urine sample is performed by collecting the sample of urine in midstream. Men or boys should wipe clean the head of the penis. Women or girls need to wash the area between the lips of the vagina with soapy water and rinse well. A small amount of urine should initially fall into the toilet bowl before it is collected (this clears the urethra of contaminants). Then, in a clean container, catch about 1 to 2 ounces of urine and remove the container from the urine stream. The container is then given to the health care provider.

    Urine melanin is a test to determine the abnormal presence of in the urine.

  • Symptoms

    Urine odor

    Urine odor refers to the scent of the fluid excreted during urination. Urine odor varies. However, if you drink enough fluids and are otherwise healthy, urine does not usually have a strong smell.

  • Symptoms

    Urine output - decreased

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Decreased urine output means that you produce less than 500 milliliters of urine in 24 hours.

  • Test

    Urine pH

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    A urine pH test measures the acidity of urine. See also:

  • Test

    Urine specific gravity

    The female and male urinary tracts are relatively the same except for the length of the urethra.

    Urine specific gravity is a laboratory test that measures the concentration of all chemical particles in the urine. See also:

  • Test

    Uroflowmetry

    Urine is the liquid waste product excreted by the kidneys.  It is stored in the bladder until it is emptied out through the urethra.

    Uroflowmetry is a test that measures the volume of urine released from the body, the speed with which it is released, and how long the release takes.

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Urostomy - stoma and skin care

    Ostomy care – urostomy

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Urostomy pouches and supplies

    Cystectomy – urostomy; Urostomy bag; Ostomy appliance; Urinary ostomy

  • Disease

    Urticaria pigmentosa

    Dermatographism is a condition where lightly scratching the skin raises wheals or welts. Histamine is released, which causes the small blood vessels (capillaries) to dilate, producing redness and localized swelling.

    Urticaria pigmentosa is a skin disease that produces patches of darker skin () and very bad . Hives can develop when skin areas are rubbed.

  • Special Topic

    Use of restraints

    Restraint devices

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Using a cane

    It is important to start walking soon after a leg injury surgery, but you will need support while your leg is healing. A cane can be used for support if you need only a little help with balance and stability and if your leg is only a little weak or painful. The 2 main types of canes are those with a ...

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Using a walker

    It is important to start walking soon after a leg injury or surgery. But you will need support while your leg is healing. A walker can give you support and help you keep stable as you start to walk again. There are many types of walkers. Some walkers have no wheels, 2 wheels, or 4 wheels. You can ...

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Using an incentive spirometer

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Using oxygen at home

    Oxygen – home use

  • Questions To Ask Your Doctor

    Using oxygen at home - what to ask your doctor

    Because of problems with your lungs or heart, you will need to use oxygen in your home. Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you use your oxygen.

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Using your shoulder after replacement surgery

    Joint replacement surgery – using your shoulder; Shoulder replacement surgery – after

  • Self-Care Instructions

    Using your shoulder after surgery

    Shoulder surgery – using your shoulder; Shoulder surgery – after

  • Surgery

    Uterine artery embolization

    Uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a procedure to treat without surgery. Uterine fibroids are noncancerous (benign) tumors that develop in the uterus (womb). During the procedure, the blood supply of the fibroids is cut off. This causes the fibroids to shrink.

  • Disease

    Uterine fibroids

    Fibroid tumors may not need to be removed if they are not causing pain, bleeding excessively, or growing rapidly.

    Uterine fibroids are noncancerous (benign) tumors that develop in the womb (uterus), a female reproductive organ.

  • Disease

    Uterine prolapse

    External structures of the female reproductive anatomy include the labium minora and majora, the vagina and the clitoris. Internal structures include the uterus, ovaries and cervix.

    Uterine prolapse is falling or sliding of the womb (uterus) from its normal position into the vaginal area.

  • Special Topic

    Uvea

    The cornea is the clear layer covering the front of the eye. The cornea works with the lens of the eye to focus images on the retina.

    The uvea is the middle layer of the eye beneath the white part of the eye (the ). It is made of the , , and . These structures control many eye functions, such as adjusting to different levels of light or different distances of objects. Inflammation of one or more of these structures is called ...

  • Disease

    Uveitis

    The eye is the organ of sight, a nearly spherical hollow globe filled with fluids (humors). The outer layer or tunic (sclera, or white, and cornea) is fibrous and protective. The middle tunic layer (choroid, ciliary body and the iris) is vascular. The innermost layer (the retina) is nervous or sensory. The fluids in the eye are divided by the lens into the vitreous humor (behind the lens) and the aqueous humor (in front of the lens). The lens itself is flexible and suspended by ligaments which allow it to change shape to focus light on the retina, which is composed of sensory neurons.

    Uveitis is swelling and irritation of the , the middle layer of the eye. The uvea provides most of the blood supply to the .

  • Disease

    Uvulitis

    The mouth is the origination of the digestive tract.  The teeth and salivary glands aid in breaking down food for digestion.  The tonsils aid against infections.

    Uvulitis is inflammation of the uvula, the small tongue-shaped piece of tissue that hangs from the top of the back part of the mouth. It is usually associated with inflammation of other mouth parts, such as the palate, tonsils, or throat (pharynx). See also: