Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Be VERY Thankful........

.....that you didn't live in the day of unknown cures and quack medicine. Although I don't do much research anymore with regards to New England history, I read alot! Yes, I am one of the most boring people you will meet. I only read nonfiction, and nonfiction on New England subjects. I find this a great way to relax and learn at the same time. However, there are still times that I am stumped when a particular word pops up that has me taking precious reading time to find out what the heck it means. This is especially true when it comes to researching, or reading about, deaths, maladies and everyday colonial lives of us Yankees.

So what do I do so that others won't have the same problem? Below find a most complete list of maladies, sicknesses and health problems that plagued our ancestors for centuries. Now remember that not only were our forefathers oblivious to many dieseases and ailments, but their knowledge of how to treat these afflictions were even sparcer.

Many of these tewrms were still around at the beginning of the 20th century, such as impetigo(which this author had to be humiliated with as a young teen).

Ablepsy Generally meant blindness

Ague A fever most of the time

Anasarca Edema of substantive size

Aphonia Laryngitis

Aphtha What we now know as the thrush

Courtesy of

Apoplexy Partial or overall paralysis due to stroke

Asphycsia/Asphicsia Oxygen depletion for any reason

Atrophy Muscle wasting away or diminishing in size.

Bad Blood A sexual disease such as syphilis

Bilious fever Typhoid, malaria, hepatitis or elevated temperature

Biliousness Usually jaundice from the effects of liver disease

Black vomit Vomiting old black blood, usually due to ulcers due to ulcers

Bladder in throat Diphtheria

Blood poisoning Bacterial infection; sepsus

Bloody flux Blood in the stool

Brain fever Meningitis

Bright’s disease Chronic inflammatory disease of kidneys

Bule Boil, tumor or swelling

Cachexy Suffering from malnutrition

Cacogastric Just an upset stomach

Cacospysy Fast, slow or irregular pulse

Caduceus Epilepsy or "the falling sickness"

Canine madness Rabies

Canker A mouth ulcer or herpes

Catalepsy a seizure

Catarrhal/Catarrh Simply a nose and/or throat phlem from a cold or allergy

Cerebritis Lead poising mostly, or brain Inflammation

Chilblain Swelling of extremities caused by exposure to cold

Child bed fever Mother's infection following birth of a child

Chin cough Whooping cough

Chlorosis Anemia

Cholera Severe, contagious diarrhea

Cholera morbus Nausea, vomiting, cramps, fever generally related to appendicitis

Cholecystitus Inflammation of the gall bladder

Cholelithiasis Gall stones

Chorea Disease characterized by convulsions, contortions and dancing

Colic Abdominal pain and cramping

Consumption Tuberculosis

Corruption Infection

Coryza A simple cold

Costiveness Constipation

Cramp colic Appendicitis

Croup Laryngitis, diphtheria, or strep throat

Cynanche Throat diseases

Cystitis Bladder Inflammation

                                             Getting a rabies vaccination in the 19th century
                                                        Courtesy of

Day fever(Diary Fever) A fever lasting but one day

Debility Immobile while in bed

Decrepitude Old age feebleness

Delirium tremens Alcoholic hallucinations

Dentition Cutting teeth, usually as an infant

Diptheria Contagious disease of the throat

Distemper Usually an animal disease

Dropsy Swelling caused by kidney or heart disease

Dropsy of the Brain Encephalitis

Dry Bellyache Lead poisoning

Dyscrasy Anything abnormal about the body

Dysentery Colon inflammation with passage of mucous and/or blood

Dysorexy Loss of appetite

Dyspepsia Indigestion, heartburn or any sign of a heart attack

Dysury Difficulty urinating

Eclampsy Usually symptoms of epilepsy or labor convulsions

Edema of lungs Congestive heart failure, a form of dropsy

Encephalitis Sleeping sickness because of brain inflammation

Enterocolitis Intestinal inflammation

Enteritis Bowel inflammation

Epitaxis A simple nose bleed

Extravasted blood Blood vessel rupture

Falling sickness Epilepsy

Fatty Liver Cirrhosis of the liver

Flux Excessive diarrhea or Hemorrhaging

Flux of "humour" – Circulatory problems

French pox Syphilis

Gathering Puss accumulation

                                                                                                     Courtesy of


Glandular fever The kissing disease, 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 barrels

Heart sickness Deprivation of salt in the body

Hectical complaint A recurring fever

Hematemesis Vomiting blood

Hematuria Bloody urine

Hemiplegy Paralysis on just one side of the body

Horrors Delirium tremors or actions

Hydrocephalus Water on the brain

Hydrothroax Dropsy in the chest

Hypertrophic Organ enlargement such as the liver or heart

                                                  courtesy of

Female Hysteria - Usually hallucinations caused by prolonged fever or mental illness

Impetigo Contagious skin disease characterized by pustules

Inanition Result of not eating enough

Infantile paralysis Polio

Intestinal colic Abdominal pain due to an improper diet

King’s evil Tuberculosis of neck and lymph glands

Kruchhusten Otherwise known as the whooping cough

Lagrippe Influenza

Lockjaw Tetanus affecting the muscles of the neck and jaw. Untreated, it was and is fatal

Long sickness Tuberculosis

Lues disease Syphilis

Lues venera Venereal disease

Lumbago Back pain

Lung fever Pneumonia

Lung sickness Tuberculosis

Lying in When a child is expected to be born

Membranous Croup Diphtheria

Miasma Poisonous vapors thought to infect the air

Milk(Undulant) fever/Brucellosis Disease from drinking contaminated milk

Milk leg Post partum thrombophlebitis

Milk sickness Disease from milk of cattle that had eaten poisonous grass

Mormal Gangrene

Morphew Blisters on the body from scurvy

Myelitis Inflammation of the spine

Myocarditis Inflammation of the muscles of the heart

Nephrosis A degenerative kidney

Nepritis Kidney inflammation

                                       A depiction of conditions at Bellevue Hospital in the 19th century

Nervous prostration Extreme and paralyzing exhaustion

Neuralgia in the Head Headache or head discomfort

Nostalgia Homesick

Palsy Paralysis or uncontrolled movement of muscles. Commonly found on death certificates.

Paroxysm Convulsions

Pemphigus Skin disease of watery blisters

Pericarditis Heart inflammation

Peripneumonia Lung inflammation

Peritonotis Abdominal inflammation

Petechial Fever Fever with spotting of the skin

Puerperal exhaustion Death due to child birth

Phthiriasis Lice infestation

Phthisis Chronic wasting away or tuberculosis

Pleurisy Breathing pain in the chest

                                               Courtesy of
Podagra Gout

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.

Rickets Disease of skeletal system

Rose cold Hay fever or allergies

Sanguineous crust A scab

Sciatica Rheumatism of the hips

Scirrhus Cancerous tumors

Scotomy Dizziness, nausea and dimness of sight

Scrivener’s palsy Writer’s cramp

Screws Rheumatism

Scrumpox Skin disease, impetigo

Scurvy Lack of vitamin C

Septicemia Blood poisoning

Shakes Delirium tremens

Ship fever Typhus

Siriasis Brain inflammation due to overexposure of the sun

Sloes Milk sickness

Small pox Contagious disease with fever and blisters

Softening of brain Result of stroke or hemorrhage in the brain

Sore throat distemper Diphtheria or quinsy

Spanish influenza Epidemic influenza

Stomatitis Inflammation of the mouth

Strangery A rupture

Sudor anglicus Sweating sickness

Summer complaint Infant diarrhea from drinking spoiled

Toxemia of pregnancy Eclampsia

Trench mouth Painful ulcers found on the gum line, caused by poor nutrition, hygiene

Tussis convulsiva Whooping cough

Variola Smallpox

Venesection Bleeding

Water on brain Enlarged head

Winter fever Pneumonia

Womb fever Uterus infection.

Worm fit Convulsions commonly with teething, worms, elevated temperature or diarrhea

Courtesy of

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