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Medical terms and meanings

Browse our glossary for definitions of common phrases used throughout this site.

Acid Reflux:

A condition in which contents from the stomach flow back up into the esophagus, often causing a painful sensation behind the breast bone called “heartburn.”

Amino Acids:

Compounds containing nitrogen that form the building blocks of proteins. A protein is composed of chains of many amino acids. Some amino acids are considered nutritionally essential and must be supplied by the diet.


Having too few red blood cells.

Chronic Diarrhea:

Frequent, loose, and watery bowel movements on an ongoing basis.


Excessive loss of body fluid through frequent urinating, sweating, chronic diarrhea and/or vomiting.


Difficulty swallowing.

ELISA Testing:

The Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) is an advanced laboratory test used to detect small amounts of specific proteins.

Enteral Feeding:

Taking nutrition into the body through the digestive system either orally or via a tube.


Specialized white blood cells produced in increased numbers in many allergic conditions.

Eosinophilic Colitis:

Condition in which the lining of the large intestine (colon) becomes filled with eosinophils, often causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis:

Condition in which the wall of the esophagus (the muscular tube through which food is sent from the mouth to the stomach) is infiltrated by eosinophils. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, coughing, and failure to thrive.

Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis:

Condition in which the lining of the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine is infiltrated by eosinophils, resulting in diarrhea and possibly vomiting, cramps, and lack of appetite.

Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders (EGIDs):

Group of conditions in which part or all the lining of the gastrointestinal system (esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines) becomes filled with large numbers of eosinophils. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and failure to thrive.

Food Allergy:

A reaction of the body's immune system to food proteins. The reaction can become stronger each time the individual is exposed to the protein and can become life-threatening in rare cases. The most common food protein allergies are to cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy.


A buildup of the sugar galactose in the blood. This occurs when a body lacks the enzymes needed to break down galactose into usable glucose. Too much galactose can damage the liver, eyes, brain, and kidneys.


A condition in which the stomach cannot empty itself of food in a normal fashion.

Gastrostomy Tube (G-tube):

A tube placed in the stomach that provides an alternate way to offer food and/or medicines. It also can be used to vent your child's stomach for air or drainage.


A protein in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley.


A product that is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Abbott Nutrition manufactures three clinically documented hypoallergenic formulas: Similac Alimentum®, EleCare® and EleCare® Jr.

Intestinal Adaptation:

Process in which the small intestine increases in size so it has more surface area through which to absorb nutrients. This often occurs after bowel resection surgery.


A condition that occurs when the bowel cannot absorb enough protein, fat, or nutrients from a normal formula or diet. Symptoms often include diarrhea and weight loss. This can be due to a food protein allergy to cow's milk or soy, or other causes.


Poor nourishment of the body often due to inadequate digestion and/or absorption of nutrients, insufficient food intake, or bad eating habits.

Nasogastric Tube (NG Tube):

A small, plastic tube placed through the nose into the stomach. It is used to provide nutrients and medications until the baby can take them orally.

Oral Feeding:

Receiving nutrition through the mouth.

PAGE Testing:

Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis (PAGE) testing is used to detect small amounts of intact protein, regardless of its source. PAGE testing is one of the tests conducted on finished EleCare® products before release.

Parenteral Feeding:

Taking nutrition into the body in a way other than through the digestive system, for instance, through intravenous feeding (into a vein).


A large complex molecule made up of one or more chains of amino acids. Proteins are needed by the body to grow and function properly.

Short Bowel Syndrome:

Malabsorptive conditions resulting from massive re-sectioning of the small intestine. Malnutrition and diarrhea are common.

Small Intestine:

The narrow, winding, upper part of the intestine where most food is digested, and most nutrients are absorbed.

Tube Feeding:

Feeding (either a special liquid formula or pureed food) that is delivered to a patient through a tube directly into the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, usually through the nose or directly into the stomach or small intestine.

Insurance Coverage and Product Delivery

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Each health care provider is ultimately responsible for verifying codes, coverage, and payment policies used to ensure that they are accurate for the services and items provided. Providers should consult with the insurance plan for complete and accurate details concerning documentation for claims. Abbott does not guarantee reimbursement by any third-party insurance plan and will not reimburse physicians or providers for claims denied by third-party insurance plans.

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