Medical Terms You Might Come Across
In researching your family tree you are likely to come across some medical terminology that seems odd to modern ears. Terms like Apoplexy, Corruption, Gravel, Idiot, Jail Fever and White Swelling seem baffling but have simply been updated as medical science improves.
List of old-fashioned terms and modern equivalents
The list below summarises some of the more common medical terms included in old medical or death records etc
Ague – Malaria
Apoplexy – Stroke
Atrophy – Wasting
Bilious Fever – Vomiting, various causes
Brain Fever – Meningitis
Canker – Ulcerous sores
Carbuncle – Deep-seated infection
Consumption – Pulmonary Tuberculosis
Convulsions – Fever due to infection
Corruption – Infection
Creeping Paralysis – Multiple Sclerosis
Debility – Bodily weakness
Dropsy – Kidney disease or Congestive heart failure
Enteric Fever – Typhoid
Falling Sickness – Epilepsy
Flux – Diarrhoea
Gravel – Kidney Stones
Idiot or Imbecile – Mental Impairment
Infantile Paralysis – Polio
Intemperance – Lack of restraint usually referring to Alcoholism
Jail Fever – Typhus
Lying-in – Childbirth
Mania – Insanity
Marasmus – Severe Malnutrition
Milk Fever – Infection from drinking unpasteurised milk
Mortification – Decaying of a body part e.g. Gangrene
Natural Decay – Death from old age
Palsy – Paralysis
Phthisis – Pulmonary Tuberculosis
Pink Disease – Mercury poisoning
Puerperal Fever – Bacterial infection after childbirth
Putrid Sore Throat – Severe Tonsillitis
Quinsy – Inflammation of the Mouth and Tonsils
Remitting Fever – Malaria
Rickets – Vitamin D deficiency leading to a weakening of the bones, usually in children
Scarlatina – Scarlet Fever
Screws – Rheumatism
Scrofula – Tuberculosis of the lymphatic glands, usually in children
Scurvy – Vitamin C deficiency
Senile Decay – weakening due to old age
Ship Fever – Typhus
Softening of the Brain – Senility
Teething – raised temperature from teething was then often fatal
Undulant Fever – from drinking infected milk
White Swelling – enlargement of the joins usually due to Tuberculosis
Winter Fever – Pneumonia
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