When you visit your doctor, you hear things like, “Your B-M-P is negative, and your C-B-C is normal. But your L-D-L is a little high.” To physicians, those terms are everyday English.  But, if you don’t know what they mean, your health could be at risk. In fact, studies show that patients who don’t understand medical terminology are more likely to end up in the hospital. 

So, here’s a Doctor-to-English dictionary to help you translate:

Let’s start with CBC. That’s short for Complete Blood Count – basically how many white and red blood cells you have. An abnormal white count usually indicates an infection. And a low red count – or low hemoglobin - could be a symptom of cancer or kidney problems.

Next up: BMP or Basic Metabolic Panel. A test that measures your sodium, potassium, calcium, and sugar. It’s used to check for dehydration and to monitor patients with heart or kidney disease.

The 3rd medical term every patient should understand: LFT. That’s short for Liver Function Test. Higher-than-normal levels may signal liver damage. So, doctors check LFTs when prescribing certain medications that are hard on the liver, like cholesterol meds and pain relievers.

#4: LDL. That stands for low-density-lipoprotein - AKA "bad cholesterol."
Let’s close our Doctor-to-English dictionary with: Idiopathic. It actually means, "Arising from an obscure or unknown cause," and it’s a physician’s way of saying, “I don’t know.”

Bottom line? If you have a question about any medical term, ask your doctor.