Reading and Understanding Medical Texts – Reading comprehension exercise

Your task

Read the following excerpt and, without looking back at the article, answer the reading comprehension questions. The answers are at the bottom of this page

Arthritis and rheumatism are general names for approximately 100 diseases that produce inflammation or degeneration of connective tissue. Some of these diseases are infectious and primarily affect younger people. Rheumatic fever, for example, is a bacterial infection that occurs mostly in children or teenagers. Rheumatoid arthritis predominantly strikes women between 20 and 60. However, the most common rheumatic disease is a noninfectious, noninflammatory degenerative joint disease – osteoarthritis. To some degree, it affects nearly all older adults, causing swelling, pain, and stiffness in joints. Treatment may include heat, exercises, and drugs that reduce pain and inflammation.

Besides osteoarthritis, many other noninfectious diseases can limit the activities of the elderly. Osteoporosis (a condition in which bone loss exceeds bone replacement so that the bones become less dense, more porous, and more brittle) often leads to fractures, especially of the hipbone. Many conditions conspire to decrease the sensory perception of the elderly. Cataracts are created when the lens of the eye – or a portion of it – becomes opaque and sometimes swells or shrinks and interferes with vision. Deterioration of nerves in the inner ear causes the characteristic old-age hearing loss, most severe in the high-pitched tones. The senses of taste and smell also deteriorate in old age.
Source: Tiersky, E.M. (1992) The Language of Medicine in English, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, pp. 39-44.

A. Answer True or False to the following statements:
1. Rheumatic fever is a viral infection.
2. Osteoporosis is the most common arthritic disease.
3. Elderly people’s senses are less acute than when they were younger.
4. Cataracts are transparent.
5. Three terms associated with osteoporosis are dense, porous and brittle.

B. Please complete the following sentences by choosing the most correct term (s):
1. Osteoarthritis is an example of a/an __________________ disease
a) infectious
b) incurable
c) noninfectious

2. A condition in which bone loss exceeds bone replacement is called ______________
a) rheumatoid arthritis
b) osteoporosis
c) rheumatism

3. As mentioned in this article, sensory perception of the elderly relates to ___________:
a) sight, hearing and touch
b) taste, smell and hearing
c) hearing, smell, taste and sight

4. ______________ primarily affects younger people, while rheumatoid arthritis predominantly strikes ___________ between the ages of 20 and 60.
a) Rheumatic fever; women
b) Osteoporosis; hearing loss
c) Cataracts; males


A1. False
A2. False
A3. True
A4. False
A5. True

B1. c)
B2. b)
B3. c)
B4. a)