Health dictionary - E


Ear

This is what you hear through. There are three bits to your ear – the outside bit which you can see, the middle bit which is the passage from your ear hole to your ear drum and then the inner bit which is where sounds are turned into nerve messages for your brain.

Earache

This is often a sign of infection, but it may not be your ears that are infected. Sometimes when you have a sore throat, you also get earache too.

Eating disorder

This is a condition that affects a person’s eating behaviour and is damaging to a person’s physical and mental wellbeing. The most common kinds of eating disorder are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia.

ECG

This stands for ElectroCardioGram and is a test which shows the electrical impulses travelling through your heart to make it beat.

Echo

This is short for Echocardiogram and it uses sound waves to show a picture of your heart and how it is beating. It also shows how blood is flowing through your heart.

Eczema

A skin disease that makes your skin really itchy and sore. It’s not catching and can be treated using ointments that stop the skin drying out.

EEG

This is a machine that draws a picture of your brain waves - showing the electricity that flows through your brain. You might need an EEG if you're having seizures.

Elective

When you have a test or operation planned for the future, the doctors may call it an ‘elective’ test or operation. This just means that it’s not an emergency and that it is planned to happen at some point in the future.

Embolism

This is when you have a blockage in an artery. The blockage can be made up of a blood clot, a bubble of air or gas, or a lump of fat. If it’s not found quickly and broken down with medicines, it can be very dangerous.

Embryo

For the first eight weeks when a baby is developing in the womb, it’s called an embryo. It only starts to look human from about the eighth week onwards, before that it looks a bit like a tadpole!

EMG

This stands for electromyography – a test for measuring electrical signals in your muscles. These signals are the messages from your brain telling the muscle to move.

Endocrine system

This consists of the glands around the body which release hormones – chemical messengers that switch on and off processes within the body. The master gland is the pituitary gland, deep inside your brain, which sends chemical messages to the other glands, telling them to produce other hormones.

Endocrinologist

An endocrinologist is a doctor who cares for children who have difficulties with their hormones.

Endoscope

This is a thin wobbly tube that has a light and a camera on the end.

Enemas

This is a treatment where liquid is injected into the anus to cleanse the colon.

Enzyme

This is a substance that controls a chemical reaction within the body. There are lots of different enzymes and each does a different job. For instance, enzymes control how your food is broken down in your stomach.

Epidural

A procedure were a form of anaesthetic is injected into the spine to stop pain without sending the patient to sleep.

Epiglottis

This is a flap of tissue in your throat that is normally open to let air flow into your lungs. When you eat, it flops down to cover your windpipe to stop food and drink getting into your lungs. When something ‘goes the wrong way’, this means that your epiglottis has let some food or drink into your windpipe by mistake and you need to cough to get rid of it.

Epilepsy

It's a type of brain disorder where your brain 'short circuits' so the electrical messages travelling to and from the brain are disrupted.

Epileptic seizure

A physical reaction to a sudden burst of extra electrical activity in the brain. The type of seizure that a person has depends on where in the brain this activity happens.

Eye

This is what you see with. It’s made up of different parts – including the cornea, iris, pupil and retina – and is connected to the brain by the optic nerve.