Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tackling The Veterinary Terminology: Prefixes (hypo-)

Remember the Spelling Bee? Big words are easier to tackle when you understand how they're put together. Veterinary terms are composed in the same way. Just like with other words, the main parts of a veterinary term are a prefix, a root, and a suffix. The difference is that they typically come more directly from Greek or Latin.

A prefix is placed at the beginning of a word to modify its meaning by providing additional information. It usually indicates number, location, time, or status.
hypo- [hī'pō] from Greek - under, below, deficient

This suffix can indicate either something physically under/below, descriptive of a location, or under/below as insufficient or below normal.

For example, hypodermic, means beneath the skin. Hypodermic needle, then, is a hollow needle used to inject solutions under, or immediately beneath, the skin.

Note the word hypoallergenic means decreased/lower than normal tendency to cause an allergic reaction. It doesn't really mean non-allergenic, only less likely to cause a reaction.


Most commonly, you might encounter this prefix denoting deficient levels of substances in the body that are normally strictly regulated; as an opposite to hyper-.

Simply put, hyper- means above optimal/normal, while hypo- means below optimal/normal.

You will find that most of the examples have potentially either below or above normal states.

Hyporthermia, abnormally low body temperature. Hypoglycemia, blood sugar levels below normal, often linked to diabetes and an overdose of insulin. Hypoadrenocorticism, also knows as Addison's disease, underproduction of adrenal hormones, particularly cortisol. Hypothyroidism, a quite common disease in dogs, underrproduction of thyroid hormone.

Just like their excess counterparts, severe deficiencies are also dangerous and can be fatal.

Just like with their excess counterparts, these words really only describe state of matters and can have various causes.

For example, hypothyroidism can be either primary or secondary. Primary causes are either destruction of the thyroid gland (auto-immune condition), or idiopathic atrophy of the gland. Most common secondary hypothyroidism is due to a pituitary gland tumor (pituitary gland controls thyroid function). There are even other, though rare, causes.

Hypoglycemia can be caused by the body's inability to store and/or mobilize sufficient amount of glucose, such as in toy breeds or puppies,  insulin overdose, insulinomas (insulin producing tumor), Addison's disease, or xylitol poisoning.

Imagine going to your wallet and finding no money. Is that because you didn't put any in there, is it because you spent it all, or is it because somebody robbed you?

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Related articles:
Veterinary Suffixes (-itis)
Veterinary Suffixes (-oma) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-pathy)  
Veterinary Suffixes (-osis) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-iasis) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-tomy) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-ectomy)  
Veterinary Suffixes (-scopy) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-emia)
Veterinary Suffixes (-penia)
Veterinary Suffixes (-rrhea) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-cyte) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-blast) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-opsy)
Veterinary Suffixes (-ac/-al)

Veterinary Prefixes (hyper-)

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