Our glossary explains some of the medical and legal terms used in palliative care. Glossary words are underlined in the Topics and Asked and Answered sections, with definitions appearing when you hover on a word.


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Bowel obstruction

A partial or complete blockage in the intestines that prevents gas, fluids, or solids from passing normally.

Breakthrough pain

A flare of pain that occurs between regular doses of pain medication. Can be moderate to severe.

Burden of illness

The total effect of an illness on the body. The change or reduction in energy level and body functions as a result of the body's response to illness.