Commonly used terms

ABx Antibiotic/Antibiotic treatment

AD Anti-depressant

ADA Americans with Disabilities Act

BiPAP An acronym for "Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure", a non-invasive breathing device which provides two levels of pressure: one for inhalation (IPAP) and a lower pressure during exhalation (EPAP). It is used to help people with breathing difficulties including sleep apnea, particularly at night.

Bulbar The "bulbar region" means the mouth/throat region. It is named because the muscles in this area are innervated by the corticobulbar tract which originates in the surface of the brain (cortex) and descends through the brainstem (known historically as the "bulb"). Symptoms in the bulbar region can affect speech and swallowing and are often diagnosed either by a neurologist or a speech and language pathologist/therapist.

CALS Caregiver for someone with ALS

CBT An acronym for Cognitive behavioral therapy, a psychotherapy based on modifying cognitions, assumptions, beliefs and behaviors, with the aim of influencing disturbed emotions. More information available at Wikipedia.

CD4 Count The CD4 count refers to the CD4+ T-lymphocyte count. A lymphocyte is a type of white blood cell in the immune system. The CD4+ T-lymphocyte is the primary target for HIV infection. As the number of CD4+ T-lymphocytes decreases, the risk and severity of infections and cancers increases. Current recommendations of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are that antiretroviral therapy should be considered for all persons with CD4+ T-lymphocyte counts of less than 500/uL, and preventive treatment against Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), the most common serious opportunistic infection diagnosed in men and women with AIDS, is recommended for all persons with CD4+ T-lymphocyte counts of less than 200/uL and for persons who have had prior episodes of PCP. Full details in the current CDC recommendations.

CPAP An acronym for "Continuous Positive Airway Pressure", a non-invasive machine which helps people with breathing difficulties such as sleep apnoea, particularly at night.

CR An abbreviation at the end of a drug name that means "Controlled Release" or "Continuous Release". Examples include Sinemet CR, a drug used in Parkinson's that releases its active substance over a longer time period than the standard pills.

CRABs Refers to four of the drugs available to treat Multiple Sclerosis: Copaxone, Rebif, Avonex, and Betaseron. (A newer drug not included in this commonly used abbreviation is Tysabri.)

DMD Disease modifying drug. Disease modifying drugs are a group of compounds which may alter the progression of MS. They have been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of relapses and slow the development of disability in some people. Some of the currently available Disease Modifying Drugs include: Beta interferon 1a - known by the trade names Avonex and Rebif, Beta interferon 1b - known by the trade name Betaseron, Glatiramer acetate - known by the trade name Copaxone, Natalizumab - known by the trade name Tysabri

Dx Diagnosis

Exacerbation An increase in the severity of symptoms; one or more symptoms may come and go in succession or together. MS exacerbations usually involve an increase in previous symptoms, lasting weeks or months. Acute attacks are usually followed by complete or partial remission (the abatement or diminution of symptoms).

FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the federal agency responsible for ensuring that foods are safe, wholesome and sanitary; human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices are safe and effective; cosmetics are safe; and electronic products that emit radiation are safe. FDA also ensures that these products are honestly, accurately and informatively represented to the public. For more information about the FDA go to 

Footdrop Impaired or absent voluntary dorsiflexion of the foot. The normal heel-toe pattern of walking  is disturbed, causing the toes to touch the ground before the heel, resulting in tripping and loss of balance.

LDN Low-Dose Naltrexone

LTD Long Term Disability

MAOI MonoAmine Oxidase Inhibitor. A type of antidepressant drug which prevents the breakdown of dopamine. It is also used in Parkinson's disease as the drug selegiline, where in combination with an L-dopa containing drug such as Sinemet, it helps boost the latter's efficacy.

MCS Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

NGT NGT or "NG Tube" is short for "Naso-Gastric Tube", a narrow tube which is threaded through the nostril, down the throat, and into the stomach to allow tube feeding for short periods. Longer-term feeding options include PEG or RIG, which involve insertion of a feeding tube directly into the stomach.

NIV An acronym for "Non-Invasive Ventilation"; a machine which can be used to help people with breathing difficulties using a mask rather than a surgical procedure (tracheotomy).

ON (Optic neuritis) Optic neuritis can be a symptom of MS. It is an inflammation of the optic nerve; it is classified as either intraocular, affecting the part of the nerve within the eyeball, or retrobulbar, affecting the portion behind the eyeball.

OT Off topic

OTC Over the counter

PALS Person with ALS

PCP Primary care physician

PEG An acronym for "Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy", a surgical procedure to insert a feeding tube into the stomach by means of a tube inserted down the throat (endoscope) to guide the surgeon.

PET Scan A PET scan is an imaging test that uses a radioactive substance called tracers to look for disease in the body, or to see how organs and tissues are working. This is different than magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT), which show the structure of and blood flow to and from organs.

Phase Clinical trials are in four phases: Phase I tests a new drug or treatment in a small group; Phase II expands the study to a larger group of people; Phase III expands the study to an even larger group of people; and Phase IV takes place after the drug or treatment has been licensed and marketed.


  • Phase I trials are the first part of a medical trial to use human subjects, as opposed to animals in the pre-clinical stage. This phase includes trials designed to assess the safety (pharmacovigilance), tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of a drug and is not intended to test whether the drug does what it's supposed to do. Most Phase I trials take place in healthy volunteers as opposed to people with the condition to be treated. 
  • Phase II clinical trials are the first stage of drug development designed to test efficacy and tolerability in patients and at the dosage at which the drug will probably be used clinically. Most drugs that fail clinical trials do so at this stage, usually due to toxicity or adverse events.
  • Phase III clinical trials are the large, expensive studies used to determine a drug's efficacy compared either to an inert (but identical-looking) pill called a placebo. Because the expectations of doctors and patients can affect outcomes, both are "blinded" as to whether each participant is receiving the drug or the placebo. Outcome measures vary according to the nature of the disease but may include survival, functional outcome, and/or quality of life.


PLM PatientsLikeMe

PM Private message

PPMS Primary progressive MS

PRMS Progressive relapsing MS, a rare type of MS that shows disease progression (increased disability) from onset, but with clear, acute relapses, with or without full recovery after each relapse.

PWP Person with Parkinson's

Remission A decrease in the severity or number of MS symptoms and signs, or their temporary disappearance.

RIG An acronym for "Radiologically Inserted Gastrostomy", a procedure whereby the stomach is inflated with air whilst a surgeon inserts the feeding tube whilst using a radiological camera to ensure proper placement. RIG is a newer technique than the older PEG system and can be performed quickly and with only local anaesthetic.

RRMS Relapsing-remitting MS,  a clinical phase having distinct relapses (also called acute attacks or exacerbations), with either full recovery (no disability), or partial recovery and lasting disability. There is no visible disease progression (worsening) between attacks; but  stable  periods, span and mask, the continuing subclinical disease process.

Rx Prescription

Side Effect A side effect is a problem that occurs when a treatment goes beyond the desired effect or a problem that occurs in addition to the desired therapeutic effect.  Side effects are also called adverse effects.

SNRI Serotonin - Noradregernic Reuptake Inhibitor, a class of antidepressant used in the treatment of clinical depression and other affective disorders. They act upon two neurotransmitters in the brain that are known to play an important part in mood, namely, serotonin and norepinephrine. More information available at Wikipedia.

SOD1 Superoxide dismutase or "SOD1" is an enzyme which clears up free radicals in cells. A small number of patients with ALS (~2%) have a mutation in the part of their DNA that encodes for SOD1, thought to be the cause of their ALS. The most widely used animal model of ALS relies upon mice who do not have the ability to produce SOD1.

SPMS Secondary progressive MS - MS that begins with a pattern of clear-cut relapses and recovery, but becomes steadily progressive over time with continued worsening between occasional acute attacks.

SR Sustained Release. A formulation of a tablet which releases its active agent slower than the normal pill. Examples include Effexor SR (an antidepressant).

SSRI Serotonin Specific Reuptake Inhibitor; a class of antidepressant drug which maintains higher levels of the mood-affecting neurotransmitter serotonin. Examples of SSRI's include paroxetine (Seroxat) and Fluoxetine (Prozac).  This class of antidepressants is used in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and some personality disorders.

Stickman Your patient representation or icon that appears in your profile and on forum posts.

Sx abbreviation for the word Symptom.

Symptom A symptom is any subjective evidence of an illness or disease. Anxiety, lower back pain and fatigue are all symptoms. They are sensations only the patient can perceive. In contrast, a sign is objective evidence of disease. A bloody nose is a sign. It is evident to the patient, doctor, nurse and other observers.

Tx Treatment

Powered by Zendesk