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Panic attacks

Uncontrolled fear reaction, usually accompanied by sweating, rapid heart rate and shortness of breath.

Panic disorder

Repeated panic attacks to the point of disrupting normal life activities.

Paracentesis (Surgical drainage of abdominal fluid “ascites”)

The removal of fluid from a body cavity using a needle, trocar, cannula, or other hollow instrument.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

The Ductus Arteriosus must close at birth as a new baby switches from mom's blood circulation to its own heart. 'Patent' means 'still open'. PDA is a dangerous, but often repairable condition.

Pedal oedema

Swollen feet.

Peptic ulcers

A hole in the lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus. A peptic ulcer of the stomach is called a gastric ulcer, an ulcer of the duodenum is a duodenal ulcer, and a peptic ulcer of the esophagus is an esophageal ulcer. A peptic ulcer occurs when the lining of these organs is corroded by the acidic digestive juices which are secreted by the stomach cells.

Pericardial effusions

Too much fluid within the pericardium, the fibrous sac that surrounds the heart. The pericardium normally contains a small amount of pale yellow fluid which acts as a lubricant, allowing the heart to move within the chest.

Persistent left superior vena cava

A large vein formed by the union of the two brachiocephalic veins and the azygos vein that receives blood from the head, neck, upper limbs, and chest, and empties into the right atrium of the heart. Also called precava.

Persistent thrush

A contagious disease caused by a fungus, Candida albicans, that occurs most often in infants and children, characterized by small whitish eruptions on the mouth, throat, and tongue, and usually accompanied by fever, colic, and diarrhea.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)

Technical term for a combination of autism and reduced intellectual capacity.

pH monitoring

Tracking of stomach acid, usually in the esophogus to evaluate reflux.

Phonological processing disorder

Disability to pronounce certain combinations of letters when speaking words. People with a phonological processing disorder may have problems with certain letter combinations like 'bl,' 'sp,' or 'tr.'

Picture-exchange communication (PECS)

Use of standardized symbols as a replacement for spoken or written language.


Observable swelling of body tissues due to fluid accumulation that may be demonstrated by applying pressure to the swollen area (such as by depressing the skin with a finger). If the pressing causes an indentation that persists for some time after the release of the pressure, the edema is referred to as pitting edema.

Pleural effusions

Excess fluid between the two membranes that envelop the lungs. These membranes are called the visceral and parietal pleurae. The visceral pleura wraps around the lung while the parietal pleura lines the inner chest wall. There is normally a small quantity (about 3 to 4 teaspoons) of fluid that is spread thinly over the visceral and parietal pleurae and acts as a lubricant between the two membranes. Any significant increase in the quantity of pleural fluid is a pleural effusion.

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