Medicine labels glossary

Find out what some of those words on your medicine container labels mean.

Medicine terms
AcuteNew, immediate. Running a short course, such as a short-term illness.
AbsorptionTransfer of a substance into another area, e.g. into the body through skin or mouth.
ACE inhibitorMedicine used to treat heart and blood pressure problems.
AdsorptionAbsorbed on to the surface of another substance.
AnalgesicPain relieving medicine.
Anti-emeticA medicine to control nausea and vomiting.
AntipyreticMedicine that reduces fever.
Anti-tussiveMedicines that help stop coughing.
CandidiasisFungal infection commonly called thrush.
ChronicLong-term medical condition.
CongestionNose, sinuses or chest blocked with mucus.
Diabetes mellitusHigh blood glucose, which can cause serious heart, kidney, nerve and eye conditions if left untreated.
ExpectorantA medicine that loosens chest congestion.
First line therapyFirst choice of medicine for treatment.
Gastro-oesophageal refluxAcidic stomach contents rising up to cause heartburn.
Heart failureHeart disease.
HumectantAdds moisture or dampness.
HypertensionHigh blood pressure.
HyperthyroidismOver-active thyroid gland causing weight loss and nervousness.
ImmunosuppressionLoss of the body's normal immune protection.
KeratolyticSkin peeling agent.
NSAIDNon-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, used for relief of pain, fever and inflammation.
OcclusiveSealed, e.g. an occlusive dressing.
Opiate/opioidOriginating from or similar to morphine.
PapulesRed bumps on skin.
PustulesRed bumps with pus, on skin.
RhinitisInflamed, swollen lining of the nose.
Secondary infectionInfection that develops from an earlier condition.
StoolsBowel motion.
Topical agentProduct applied to the skin.
Urinary retentionUnable to pass urine properly.
VesiclesLittle pimples with clear fluid.
WeltRaised, pink, itchy patch on skin.