Terminology and Meanings of Early Illnesses


This was posted on a email listing I belong to. I thought it was really interesting and really helpful when looking at death certificates, so I thought I would share it with you all. I don’t know who created it or who to give credit for it to, so if anyone knows let me know.
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Ablepsy – Blindness
Ague – Malarial fever
American plague – Yellow fever
Anasarca – Generalized massive edema
Aphonia – Laryngitis
Aphtha – Infant disease “thrush”
Apoplexy – Paralysis due to stroke
Asphicsia – Cyanotic and lack of oxygen
Asphycsia – Cyanotic and lack of oxygen
Atrophy – Wasting away or diminishing in size
Bad blood – Syphilis
Bilious fever – Typhoid, malaria, hepatitis or elevated temperature and bile emesis
Biliousness – Jaundice associated with liver disease
Black plague – Bubonic plague
Black fever – Acute infection with high temperature and dark red skin lesions and high mortality rate
Black pox – Black small pox
Black vomit – Vomiting old black blood due to ulcers or yellow fever
Blackwater fever – Dark urine associated with high temperature
Bladder in throat – Diphtheria (seen on death certificates)
Blood poisoning – Bacterial infection; septicemia
Bloody flux – Bloody stools
Bloody sweat – Sweating sickness
Bone shave – Sciatica
Brain fever – Meningitis
Breakbone – Dengue fever
Bright’s disease – Chronic disease of kidneys
Bronze John – Yellow fever
Bule – Boil, tumor or swelling
Cachexy – Malnutrition
Cacogastric – Upset stomach
Cacospysy – Irregular pulse
Caduceus – Subject to falling sickness or epilepsy
Camp fever – Typhus; aka camp diarrhea
Canine madness – Rabies; hydrophobia
Canker – Ulceration of mouth or lips; or herpes simplex
Catalepsy – Seizures/trances
Catarrhal – Nose and throat discharge from cold or allergy
Cerebritis – Inflammation of cerebrum; or lead poisoning
Chilblain – Swelling of extremities caused by exposure to cold
Child bed fever – Infection following birth of a child
Chin cough – Whooping cough
Chlorosis – Iron deficiency anemia
Cholera – Acute, severe, contagious diarrhea with intestinal lining sloughing
Cholera morbus – Characterized by nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, elevated temperature, etc.; could also be appendicitis
Cholecystitus – Inflammation of the gall bladder
Cholelithiasis – Gall stones
Chorea – Disease characterized by convulsions, contortions and dancing
Cold plague – Ague which is characterized by chills
Colic – Abdominal pain and cramping
Congestive chills – Malaria
Consumption – Tuberculosis
Congestion – Any collection of fluid in an organ, like the lungs
Congestive chills – Malaria with diarrhea
Congestive fever – Malaria
Corruption – Infection
Coryza – A cold
Costiveness – Constipation
Cramp colic – Appendicitis
Crop sickness – Overextended stomach
Croup – Laryngitis, diphtheria or strep throat
Cyanosis – Dark skin color from lack of oxygen in blood
Cynanche – Diseases of throat
Cystitis – Inflammation of the bladder
Day fever – Fever lasting one day; sweating sickness
Debility – Lack of movement or staying in bed
Decrepitude – Feebleness due to old age
Delirium tremens – Hallucinations due to alcoholism
Dengue – Infectious fever endemic to East Africa
Dentition – Cutting of teeth
Deplumation – Tumor of the eyelids which causes hair loss
Diary fever – A fever that lasts more than one day
Diptheria – Contagious disease of the throat
Distemper – Usually animal disease with malaise, discharge from nose and throat and anorexia
Dock fever – Yellow fever
Dropsy – Edema (swelling), often caused by kidney or heart disease
Dropsy of the brain – Encephalitis
Dry bellyache – Lead poisoning
Dyscrasy – An abnormal body condition
Dysentery – Inflammation of the colon with frequent passage of mucous and blood
Dysorexy – Reduced appetite
Dyspepsia – Indigestion and heartburn; heart attack symptoms
Dysury – Difficulty in urination
Eclampsy – Symptoms fo epilepsy; convulsions during labor
Ecstasy – A form of catalepsy characterized by loss of reason
Edema – Nephrosis; swelling of tissues
Edema of lungs – Congestive heart failure; a form of dropsy
Eel thing – Erysipelas
Elephantiasis – A form of leprosy
Encephalitis – Swelling of the brain; aka sleeping sickness
Enteric fever – Typhoid fever
Enteritis – Inflammation of the bowels
Enterocolitis – Inflammation of the intestines
Epitaxis – Nose bleed
Erysipelas – Contagious skin disease due to Streptococci with vesiculas and bulbous lesions
Extravasted blood – Rupture of a blood vessel
Falling sickness – Epilepsy
Fatty liver – Cirrhosis of liver
Fits – Sudden attack or seizure of muscle activity
Flux – An excessive flow or discharge of fluid like hemorrhage or diarrhea
Flux of humour – Circulation
French pox – Syphilis
Gathering – A collection of pus
Glandular fever – Mononucleosis
Great pox – Syphilis
Green fever – Anemia
Grippe/grip – Influenza-like symptoms
Grocer’s itch – Skin disease cause by mites in sugar or flour
Heart sickness – Condition caused by loss of salt from body
Heat stroke – Body temperature elevates because of surrounding environment temperature and body does not perspire to reduce temperature
Hectical complaint – Recurrent fever
Hematemesis – Vomiting blood
Hematuria – Bloody urine
Hemiplegy – Paralysis of one side of the body
Hip gout – Osteomylitis
Horrors – Delirium tremers
Hydrocephalus – – Enlarged head; water on the brain
Hydropericardium – Heart dropsy
Hydrophobia – Rabies
Hydrothroax – Dropsy in chest
Hypertrophic – Enlargement of an organ, like the heart
Impetigo – Contagious skin disease characterized by pustules
Inanition – Physical condition resulting from lack of food
Infantile paralysis – Polio
Intestinal colic – Abdominal pain due to improper diet
Jail fever – Typhus
Jaundice – Condition cause by blockage of intestines
King’s evil – Tuberculosis of neck and lymph glands
Kruchhusten – Whooping cough
Lagrippe – Influenza
Lockjaw – Tetanus or infectious disease affecting the muscles of the neck and jaw; untreated, it is fatal in eight (8) days
Long sickness – Tuberculosis
Lues disease – Syphilis
Lues venera – Venereal disease
Lumbago – Back pain
Lung fever – Pneumonia
Lung sickness – Tuberculosis
Lying in – Time of delivery of an infant
Malignant sore throat – Diphtheria
Mania – Insanity
Marasmus – Progressive wasting away of the body, like malnutrition
Membranous croup – Diphtheria
Meningitis – Inflations of brain or spinal cord
Metritis – Inflammation of uterus or purulent vaginal discharge
Miasma – Poisonous vapors thought to infect the air
Milk fever – Disease from drinking contaminated milk, like undulant fever or brucellosis
Milk leg – Post partum thrombophlebitis
Milk sickness – Disease from milk of cattle which had eaten poisonous weeds
Mormal – Gangrene
Morphew – Scurvy blisters on the body
Mortification – Gangrene of necrotic tissue
Myelitis – Inflammation of the spine
Myocarditis – Inflammation of heart muscles
Necrosis – Mortification of bones or tissue
Nephrosis – Kidney degeneration
Nephritis – Inflammation of kidneys
Nervous prostration – Extreme exhaustion from inability to control physical and mental activities
Neuralgia – Described as discomfort, such as “headache” was neuralgia in head
Nostalgia – Homesickness
Palsy – Paralysis or uncontrolled movement of controlled muscles
Paroxysm – Convulsion
Pemphigus – Skin disease of watery blisters
Pericarditis – Inflammation of the heart
Peripneumonia – Inflammation of the lungs
Peritonitis – Inflammation of the abdominal area
Petechial fever – Fever characterized by skin spotting
Phthiriasis – Chronic wasting away or a name for tuberculosis
Plague – An acute febrile highly infectious disease with a high fatality rate
Pleurisy – Any pain in the chest area with each breath
Podagra – Gout
Poliomyelitis – Polio; Potter’s asthma
Pott’s disease – Tuberculosis of the spine
Puerperal exhaustion – Death due to childbirth
Puerperal fever – Elevated temperature after giving birth to an infant
Puking fever – Milk sickness
Putrid fever – Diphtheria
Quinsy – Tonsillitis
Remitting fever – Malaria
Rheumatism – Any disorder associated with pain in joints
Rickets – Disease of skeletal system
Rose cold – Hay fever or nasal symptoms of an allergy
Rotanny fever – (Child’s disease) ???
Rubeola – German measles
Sanguineous crust – Scab
Scarlatina – Scarlet fever
Scarlet fever – A disease characterized by a red rash
Scarlet rash – Roseola
Sciatica – Rheumatism in the hips
Scirrhus – Cancerous tumors
Scotomy – Dizziness, nausea and dimness of sight
Scrivener’s palsy – Writer’s cramp
Screws – Rheumatism
Scrofula – Tuberculosis of neck lymph glands; progresses slowly with abscesses and pistulas develop; young person’s disease
Scrumpox – Skin disease; impetigo
Scurvy – Lack of Vitamin C; symptoms of weakness, spongy gums and hemorrhages under the skin
Septicemia – Blood poisoning
Shakes – Delirium tremens
Shaking – Chills; ague
Ship fever – Typhus
Siriasis – Inflammation of the brain due to sun exposure
Sloes – Milk sickness
Small pox – Contagious disease with fever and blisters
Softing of brain – Result of stroke or hemmorhage in the brain, with an end result of the tissue softening in that area
Sore throat – distemper Diphtheria or quinsy
Spanish influenza – Epidemic influenza
Spasms – Sudden involuntary contraction of a muscle or group of muscles, like a convulsion
Spina bifida – Deformity of spine
Spotted fever – Either typhus or meningitis
Sprue – Tropical disease characterized by intestinal disorders and sore throat
St. Anthony’s fire – Also erysipelas, but named so because of affected skin areas being bright red in appearance
St. Vitas dance – Ceaseless occurance of rapid complex jerking movements performed involuntarily
Stomatitis – Inflammation of the mouth
Stranger’s fever – Yellow fever
Strangery – Rupture
Sudor anglicus – Sweating sickness
Summer complaint – Diarrhea, usually in infants, caused by spoiled milk
Sunstroke – Uncontrolled elevation of body temperature due to environment heat; lack of sodium in the body is a predisposing cause
Swamp sickness – – Could be malaria, typhoid or encephalitis
Sweating sickness – – Infectious and fatal disease common to the UK in the 15th century
Tetanus – Infectious disease characterized by high fever, headache and dizziness
Thrombosis – Blood clot inside blood vessel
Thrush – Childhood disease characterized by spots on mouth, lips and throat
Tick fever – Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Toxemia of pregnancy – Eclampsia
Trench mouth – Painful ulcers found along gum line; caused by poor nutrition and poor hygiene
Tussis convulsiva – Whooping cough
Typhus – Infectious fever characterized by high fever, headache and dizziness
Variola – Smallpox
Venesection – Bleeding
Viper’s dance – St. Vitus dance
Yellowjacket – Yellow fever

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