Tennessee Genealogical Society
 
Disease Terminology of Our Ancestors 


Disease terminology you may find on death certificates (A-N):

(A)
Ablepsy - Blindness
Ague - Malarial Fever
American plague - Yellow fever
Anasarca - Generalized massive edema
Aphonia - Laryngitis
Aphtha - The infant disease "thrush"
Apoplexy - Paralysis due to stroke
Asphycsia/Asphicsia - Cyanotic and lack of oxygen
Atrophy - Wasting away or diminishing in size.



(B)
Bad Blood - Syphilis
Bilious fever - Typhoid, malaria, hepatitis or elevated temperature and bile
emesis
Biliousness - Jaundice associated with liver disease
Black plague or death - 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 inflammatory disease of kidneys
Bronze John - Yellow fever
Bule - Boil, tumor or swelling



(C)
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 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 - An 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


D
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 one day
Diptheria - Contagious disease of the throat
Distemper - Usually animal disease with malaise, discharge from nose and throat, 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 colon with frequent passage of mucous and blood
Dysorexy - Reduced appetite
Dyspepsia - Indigestion and heartburn. Heart attack symptoms
Dysury - Difficulty in urination


(E)
Eclampsy - Symptoms of 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 brain; aka sleeping sickness
Enteric fever - Typhoid fever
Enterocolitis - Inflammation of the intestines
Enteritis - Inflations of the bowels
Epitaxis - Nose bleed
Erysipelas - Contagious skin disease, due to Streptococci with vesicular and bulbous lesions
Extravasted blood - Rupture of a blood vessel


(F)
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


(G)
Gathering - A collection of pus
Glandular fever - Mononucleosis
Great pox - Syphilis
Green fever / sickness - Anemia
Grippe/grip - Influenza like symptoms
Grocer's itch - Skin disease caused by mites in sugar or flour


H)
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.  Coma and death result if not reversed
Hectical complaint - Recurrent fever
Hematemesis - Vomiting blood
Hematuria - Bloody urine
Hemiplegy - Paralysis of one side of body
Hip gout - Osteomylitis
Horrors - Delirium tremens
Hydrocephalus - Enlarged head, water on the brain
Hydropericardium - Heart dropsy
Hydrophobia - Rabies
Hydrothroax - Dropsy in chest
Hypertrophic - Enlargement of organ, like the heart
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(I)
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
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(J)
Jail fever - Typhus
Jaundice - Condition caused by blockage of intestines King's evil – Tuberculosis of neck and lymph glands
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(K)
King's evil –Tuberculosis of neck and lymph glands
Kruchhusten - Whooping cough
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(L)
Lagrippe - Influenza
Lockjaw - Tetanus or infectious disease affecting the muscles of the neck and jaw. Untreated, it is fatal in 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 infant

(M)
Malignant sore throat - Diphtheria
Mania - Insanity
Marasmus - Progressive wasting away of 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


(N)
Necrosis - Mortification of bones or tissue
Nephrosis - Kidney degeneration
Nepritis - 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






Contributed by
Tina Sansone
TN Genealogy Society Member