Health dictionary - P


Pacemaker

A pacemaker gives off electrical signals if your heart isn’t beating regularly.

Paediatrics

The study of children’s development and the diseases that affect children. A doctor who specialises in paediatrics is called a paediatrician.

Paracetamol

Paracetamol helps to stop things from hurting. It can also make reduce swelling and stop you feeling as hot. You should only ever take paracetamol if it is given to you by medical staff or your parent/guardian, according to the instructions on the bottle. Paracetamol is sometimes sold as Calpol® or Disprol®.

Patella

The medical name for your kneecap.

Pathology

The study of diseases and how they affect your body. A doctor who specialises in pathology is called a pathologist.

Pelvis

The bones in your lower body that protect the bladder and in women, the womb.

Perthes disease

A disease which often affects children where the blood supply to the top of the thighbone stops which leads to pain in the hip and difficulty in walking.

Pituitary

This is a gland (a tiny organ) that makes lots of hormones. These are important for your body. They help it to work properly.

Plasma

This is a straw coloured liquid in your blood. All the blood cells float in it while the blood travels around your body.

Platelets

These are the smallest types of blood cell, which helps make your blood clot when you cut yourself.

Pneumonia

When germs get inside your lungs, it can make you very unwell. Pneumonia can make you feel very hot and make you cough a lot. Don't worry though, the doctors will give you antibiotics which are a special type of medicine. They will soon make you feel a lot better.

Postnatal

The period of time after a woman gives birth.

Post-operative

This just means 'after the operation'.

Premature birth

The term used to describe babies that are born before 38 weeks of a mother’s pregnancy.

Premedication

Premedication or 'premed' is a special medicine that you are sometimes given before an operation (surgery). It's usually a liquid that you can drink and it helps to stop you worrying about the operation.

Prescription

The note that a doctor writes to a pharmacist to tell him or her what medicines you need and in what dose.

Pupil

The opening in the front of your eye that lets in light so that a picture forms on the retina at the back of your eye. Muscles control the pupil so that it is bigger when it is dark, and smaller when it is light. This stops too much light going into your eye.

Pus

A yellow or green liquid that forms when you have an infection. It’s mainly made up of millions of dead white blood cells!