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Definitions of Health Terms: General Health

Being healthy is about more than diet and exercise.  It is also about understanding how your body works and what it needs to stay healthy.  You can start by learning these general health terms.

Find more definitions on   Fitness  |  General Health  |   Minerals  |   Nutrition  |   Vitamins

Basal Body Temperature

Basal body temperature is your temperature at rest when you wake up in the morning. This temperature rises slightly around the time of ovulation. Keeping track of this temperature and other changes such as cervical mucus may help you figure out when you are ovulating. Take your temperature before you get out of bed every morning. Since the change during ovulation is only about 1/2 degree F (1/3 degree C), you should use a sensitive thermometer such as a basal body thermometer.
Source: NIH MedlinePlus

Blood Alcohol Content

Blood alcohol content, or blood alcohol concentration (BAC), is the amount of alcohol in a given volume of blood. For medical and legal purposes, BAC is expressed as grams of alcohol in a 100 milliliter sample of blood.
Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as your heart pumps blood. It includes two measurements. "Systolic" is your blood pressure when your heart beats while pumping blood. "Diastolic" is your blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. You usually see blood pressure numbers written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic number. For example, you might see 120/80.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Blood Type

There are four major blood types: A, B, O, and AB. The types are based on substances on the surface of the blood cells. Besides blood types, there is the Rh factor. It is a protein on red blood cells. Most people are Rh-positive; they have Rh factor. Rh-negative people don't have it. Rh factor is inherited though genes.
Source: NIH MedlinePlus

Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index (BMI) is an estimate of your body fat. It is calculated from your height and weight. It can tell you whether you are underweight, normal, overweight, or obese. It can help you gauge your risk for diseases that can occur with more body fat.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Body Temperature

Body temperature is a measure of your body’s level of heat.
Source: NIH MedlinePlus

Cervical Mucus

Cervical mucus comes from the cervix. It collects in the vagina. Tracking the changes in your mucus during your cycle, along with changes in your basal body temperature, may help you figure out when you are ovulating.
Source: NIH MedlinePlus

Galvanic Skin Response

Galvanic skin response is a change in electrical resistance of the skin. It can occur in response to emotional arousal or other conditions.
Source: NIH MedlinePlus

Heart Rate

Heart rate, or pulse, is how many times your heart beats in a period of time — usually a minute. The usual pulse for an adult is 60 to 100 beats per minute after resting for at least 10 minutes.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Your height is the distance from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head when you are standing up straight.
Source: NIH MedlinePlus

Inhaler Usage

An inhaler is a device that sprays medicine through your mouth to your lungs.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Menstruation, or period, is normal vaginal bleeding that happens as part of a woman's monthly cycle. Keeping track of your cycles helps you figure out when the next one will come, whether you missed one, and if there is a problem with your cycles.
Source: NIH MedlinePlus

Ovulation Test

Ovulation is the release of an egg from a woman's ovary. Ovulation tests detect a rise in a hormone level that happens just before ovulation. This can help you figure out when you will ovulate, and when you are most likely to get pregnant.
Source: NIH MedlinePlus

Respiratory Rate

Respiratory rate is your rate of breathing (inhalation and exhalation) within a certain time. It is usually stated as breaths per minute.
Source: National Cancer Institute

Sexual Activity

Sexuality is part of being human and plays a role in healthy relationships. Keeping track of your sexual activity can help you watch for sexual problems and fertility problems. It can also help you learn about your risk for sexually transmitted diseases.
Source: NIH MedlinePlus


Spotting is light vaginal bleeding that is not your period. It could be between periods, after menopause, or during pregnancy. There can be many different causes; some are serious and some are not. Contact your health care provider if you have spotting; call right away if you are pregnant.
Source: NIH MedlinePlus

UV Exposure

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are an invisible form of radiation from sunlight. They can help your body form vitamin D naturally. But they can pass through your skin and damage your skin cells, causing sunburn. UV rays can also cause eye problems, wrinkles, skin spots, and skin cancer.
Source: NIH MedlinePlus

Weight (Body Mass)

Your weight is the mass or quantity of your heaviness. It is expressed by units of pounds or kilograms.
Source: NIH MedlinePlus