Health dictionary - F


Faeces

The medical word for poo. Once all the water and goodness has been absorbed from what you eat, faeces is all that’s left.

Failure to thrive

The diagnosis often given to babies and children who are not getting enough nutrition from their food. This could be due to not eating enough or in some cases, to the goodness in food not being absorbed properly by the intestines.

Fainting

Temporary loss of consciousness due to a lack of oxygen in the brain. If you feel faint, you should sit down and lean forwards, with your head between your knees. This will encourage blood to flow towards your brain.

Fasting

Not eating or drinking. Some people fast for religious reasons. In hospital, you have to fast for a certain amount of time before an anaesthetic.

Femur

The medical word for thighbone – the longest bone in your body. The top of the thighbone connects with your hip in a ‘ball and socket’ joint and the bottom connects with your knee in a ‘hinge’ joint.

Fetus

A baby developing in the womb. Before the eighth week, the baby is called an embryo. While the baby is developing in the womb, it will grow from about 2.5cm long to a final length of 51cm long.

Fibrous dysplasia

This is a bone disease that destroys normal bone and replaces it with a fibrous (scar-like) tissue. This can change the shape of the bone and make it weak.

Fibula

One of the bones in your lower leg. The fibula is much thinner than your shinbone (tibia) and doesn’t connect with your knee. Instead it forms part of your ankle. It’s main purpose is to give the muscles a place to connect.

Fistula

This is an abnormal connection (or hole) that happens between an organ, vessel or intestine. They can occur as a result of injury, surgery or infection.

Fixator

The name for a device that holds together a broken bone by screws that are inserted into the bone and held in place by a surrounding brace.

Foot

Your foot is made up of 26 bones by the time you’re an adult and the largest one is your heel bone. Your feet are important because they help you stand and walk upright and they’re also vital for walking.

Foreign body

Anything that is in your body, either inside or in one of the openings, that shouldn’t be there is called a foreign body. Choking is usually caused by a foreign body, and little children often put foreign bodies like beads or small toys in their mouth, nose or ears! You should never try to remove a foreign body yourself – this is a job for experts!

Fracture

When you break a bone in your body, it’s called a fracture. There are lots of different types of fracture – some are simple fractures where the bone breaks but doesn’t come through your skin, but others are complicated fractures which need to be pinned together to make them heal properly.

Freckles

Freckles are just small patches of skin containing pigment, the substance that gives us colour. Freckles usually appear when you’re out in the sun. People with fair or red hair tend to have more freckles than dark haired people, and so should take care not to burn by using a sun block cream.