[ Browse by Service Category : Disabilities and Health Conditions : Sub-Topics of Health Conditions (484) ]

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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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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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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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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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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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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Common Ailments

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

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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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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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Diphtheria

A rare acute infectious disease that is characterized by the formation of a false membrane on any mucous surface and occasionally on the skin.

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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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Feeding Disorders

A condition seen in infants and toddlers that is characterized by avoiding eating or refusing to eat; limited food consumption; sucking; chewing or swallowing difficulties; choking or gagging while eating; vomiting after eating; difficulty weaning to solid foods; severe food selectivity; unwillingness to try food textures appropriate for age and development; disruptive behaviours at mealtime; and loss of weight or a significant failure to gain weight. Feeding disorders may be physical and/or psychological in origin and may be associated with premature birth, developmental disabilities such as autism or cerebral palsy, food allergies, metabolic disorders, or other anomalies.

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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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Headaches

A condition in which the individual experiences diffuse pain, which may be acute or chronic, in different portions of the head including the frontal, temporal or occipital regions, or that is confined to one side of the head or the region immediately over the eyes. The character of the pain may vary from a dull ache to an acute pain that is almost unbearable, and may be an intermittent intense pain, a throbbing pain, a pressure pain or a penetrating pain driving through the head.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Pertussis

An acute, infectious disease, also known as whooping cough, that is characterized by an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the head and throat, followed by a peculiar paroxysmal cough, and ending in a whooping inhalation.

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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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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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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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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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Swallowing Disorders

Any of a variety of pathological or congenital conditions that make it difficult for the individual to swallow food normally. Symptoms include a lump in the throat, hoarseness, a sore throat, pain during swallowing, avoidance of specific foods or liquids and repeated attacks of pneumonia due to unconscious aspiration of food into the lungs.

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Tetanus

An acute infectious disease that is caused by the toxin of the tetanus bacillus growing anaerobically at the site of the injury. The disease is characterized by stiffness and then rigid fixation of the jaws, alteration of the voice, contraction of the facial muscles which produces a wildly excited expression, and painful tonic contraction of the muscles of the back, extremities and penis. The disease is usually, but not always, fatal.

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