A-Z Family Medical Encyclopedia by Dr. Michael Peters

By Dr. Michael Peters

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Amylase An enzyme that is found in saliva and pancreatic secretions (see pancreas). Amylase helps the body to digest dietary starch, breaking it down into smaller components, such as the sugars glucose and maltose. Amsler chart A diagnostic tool used by ophthalmologists to detect changes in the retina, particularly those changes that indicate macular degeneration. A typical Amsler chart consists of a grid of black lines on a white background. In an individual with retinal changes, the lines may appear distorted.

CAUSES Alveolitis is commonly caused by an allergic reaction to inhaled dust of animal or plant origin, as in farmer’s lung (caused by spores from mouldy hay), bagassosis (caused by spores from mouldy sugar-cane residue), and pigeon fancier’s lung (caused by particles from bird droppings). This type of alveolitis is known as extrinsic allergic alveolitis. alprostadil A prostaglandin drug used to minimize the effects of congenital (present from birth) heart defects in newborn babies prior to corrective surgery; it is usually administered in hospital.

DIAGNOSIS Anaemia is diagnosed from the patient’s symptoms and by blood tests (see blood count). A bone marrow biopsy (removal of a small sample of bone marrow for analysis) may be required to determine whether or not red blood cell production is defective. anaemia, aplastic A rare but serious type of anaemia (a reduced level of the oxygen-carrying pigment haemoglobin in the blood). In aplastic anaemia, the red cells, white cells, and platelets in the blood are all reduced in number. The condition is caused by a failure of the bone marrow to produce stem cells, the initial form of all blood cells.

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