Physical dependence See addiction

physical modalities Therapeutic interventions that use physical methods, such as heat, cold, massage, or exercise, to relieve pain.

physician-assisted suicide The question of whether physicians should be allowed actively to assist competent, terminally ill patients who wish to end their intolerable suffering is currently the subject of widespread debate. (This is a separate question from that of merely forgoing or withholding treatment, which is legal in some circumstances.) Although the activities of Dr. Jack Kevorkian have dominated public discussion, the issue is by no means limited to his highly controversial methods. Those who favor the practice argue that the obligation to relieve suffering and to respect patients' wishes for their own treatment makes it ethical. Those who oppose it feel that it is never right for a physician to cause or bring about a death. To date, none of Dr. Kevorkian's cases has involved an AIDS patient, but several studies have shown that AIDS patients kill themselves at a much higher rate than people with other serious diseases. See suicide.

physiologic Related to the functions of the body. When used in the phrase physiologic age it refers to an age assigned by general health, as opposed to calendar age.

physiological leukorrhea A normal but persistent whitish vaginal discharge that is not a symptom of infection. Usually white or yellow mucous discharge from the cervical canal or the vagina. It may constantly be present but somewhat increased preceding and following menstruation, and during sexual excitement. Leukorrhea may be abnormal if it is increased in amount, has a change of color, is malodorous, or contains blood.

phytohemagglutinin A plant chemical used to stimulate the multiplication (proliferation) of T lymphocytes in laboratory tests.


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