A Germ by Any Other Name: 'Stomach Flu' and Other Medical Misnomers

Staff

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About This Quiz

Most of us know what causes a case of the Mondays or tennis elbow -- Mondays and racquet sports -- but what about other conditions and illnesses? You can't always judge a disease by its name. Do you know what causes the stomach flu?

What causes the chicken pox?

Chicken pox is caused by a herpesvirus called varicella-zoster virus.

True or false: Chicken pox and shingles are caused by the same virus.

Chicken pox and shingles are both caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Anyone who has had chicken pox is vulnerable to the virus reactivating later in life, which is a case of shingles.

How did "fifth disease" get its name?

Fifth disease is only named this way because it happened to be fifth on a list of childhood illnesses that cause rashes. It's also known as erythema infectiosum.

True or false: The stomach flu is NOT actually caused by influenza.

Influenza does not cause symptoms of what we call stomach flu.

If influenza doesn't cause the stomach flu, which of the following does?

All of these viruses cause gastroenteritis, which many of us call the stomach flu.

True or false: Heartburn is easily confused with a heart attack.

Heartburn causes a burning sensation in the chest, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause esophageal spasms -- both of which may feel a lot like a heart attack.

What conditions is heartburn associated with?

Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and a hiatal hernia, and may also occur more frequently during pregnancy.

Which of the following is a symptom of heartburn?

None of these are symptoms of heartburn. Heartburn is normally characterized by one or more of the following: burning feeling in the chest, chest pain, a burning sensation in the throat, trouble swallowing. It's easy to see how it's often mistaken for a heart attack.

True or false: Flesh-eating bacteria eats flesh.

Flesh-eating bacteria does not eat flesh. Confused? The next question might help.

If flesh-eating bacteria don't eat your flesh, what do they do?

Flesh-eating bacteria attack and kill soft tissue -- including skin, fat, muscles and connective tissues -- and release toxins into the body.

What part of the body does flesh-eating bacteria most commonly infect?

Flesh-eating bacteria most commonly infects the arms, legs and the abdominal wall.

What group of bacteria most commonly causes flesh-eating disease?

Bacteria in the group A strep family -- the same group that causes strep throat -- is often the cause of flesh-eating bacterial infections.

Which of the following is actually not associated with lupus?

Lupus pernio is not associated with lupus, nor with pernio -- a condition normally associated with frostbite.

Where does a sebaceous cyst actually develop?

Sebaceous cysts don't develop from sebaceous glands (oil glands); they develop from ectodermal tissue.

Which of the following diseases is actually not a fungal infection?

Mycosis fungoides produces tumors that resemble mushrooms, but the disorder is not itself fungal.

Why is transient acantholytic dermatosis a misnomer?

Transient acantholytic dermatosis, also called Grover disease, is a misnomer because is not always transient. In fact, the condition can be quite persistent in one location.

True or false: Swimmer's ear is inflammation caused when water gets into your ear canal.

True -- mostly. It's the bacteria found in that water that causes swimmer's ear, not the water itself.

Which type of eczema was once thought to be related to sweat retention?

The name dyshidrosis eczema suggests the disorder is related to sweating and sweat glands, but it's not.

Which type of arthritis causes joint pain, swelling and stiffness but does NOT cause inflammation?

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis may make your joints feel miserable but osteoarthritis is not an autoimmune disease that causes joint inflammation, despite the "itis" in its name.

True or false: Small, asymptomaic cysts on a woman's ovaries means she has a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

About 25 percent of women have these small cysts on their ovaries without any other symptom of the condition.

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