Huerfano County, Colorado
Diseases and Illnesses

Listing contributed by Karen Mitchell
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19th Century Diseases

How many times have you read CW-era documents and were perplexed by the medical terminology mentioned.  Here is a compiliation of diseases and ailments from the Civil War Era.

Cholera: an acute, infections, often fatal disease causing diarrhea, vomitting, cramps and dehydration.

Consumption: TB.

Dropsy: an excessing accumulation of fluids in a cavity or in the subcutaneous cavity.

Dysentary: an infectious disease marked by inflammation and ulceration of the lower part of the bowels and diarrhea.

Dyspepsia: deranged or impaired digestion - indigestion.

Erycipelas: acute, infectious disease evidenced by a deep red inflammation of the skin.

Flux: abnormal discharge from the bowels - dysentary. Sometimes a lead-in to cholera or diagnosed as cholera.

Gravel: kidney stones.

Mortification: gangrene or death of tissue.

Quinsy: tonsillitis.

Scrofula: a form of TB causing swelling and degeneration of the lympathic glands especially in the neck and joints.

St Vitus dance: cholery - primarily in children, a bacterial or organic degeneration, irregular of jerky, involuntary muscular movements.

appoplectic: Modern day equivalent is a stroke

billious colic: bilious pertains to an ailment of the bile or liver resulting in headache, indigestion, nausea, etc. supposed to be caused by an abnormal liver-- likely gall bladder disease or stones

brain fever: encephalitis

brain infirmation or inflamation: likely meningitis

cholera infantum: intestinal disease occuring in warm weather, charachterised by pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and prostration. an acute intestinal poisoning of bacterial origin starting with severe vomiting and diarrhea, followed by fever, shock, and collapse

congestion of the brain: hydrocephalus

congestion of the lungs: pulmonary edema

Coup de Soliel: Translates as "Stroke or blow of the sun"=sunstroke

cynanche tracheitis: cynache is any inflammatory disease of the throat. Cynanche cellularis woiuld mean a sore throat accompanied with excessive cellular growth (hyperplasia). Cynancehe is an old term for any acute disease of the throat in which the patient struggles for breath

eruption of vessel: varicose veins

female disease: could be problems, as in endometriosis

gangrenous diptheria: gangrene refers to a death of a part due to a lack of blood supply in that area. Diptheria is characterized by the formation of a false membrane adhering to the larynx, pharynx, and trachea, although occaisionally of the vagina and conjuctiva

general debility: debility means feeble and refers to the state of abnormal bodily weakness

inflamation of the bowels: gastritis or gastroenteritis

intermittent fever: recurring fever, malaria

neuralgia of the brain: neuralgia is nerve pain, possibly migraine

phthisis pulmonales: a wasting away of the body. an old term for pulmonary tuberculosis, with subsequent emaciation and loss of strength caused by tuberculosis

pulmonary consumption: tuberculosis of the lungs

puerperal fever: septic poisoning, sometimes occuring after childbirth, childbed fever, childbirth complications

putrid sore throat: sore throat with a foul smell

remittent fever: a fever that has periods of abatement, but never really goes away, something like malaria

scrofula dysipales: scrofula is tuberculosis of the lymph glands

summer complaint: caused by spoiled food (often milk products), generally affected children, causing severe dehydration and frequently death---food poisoning

suicide by loderium: Laudenum--a preparation of opium, usually in solution of alcohol it was a liquid opiate used as a cough syrup, pain killer, tonic, and general elixir for what ever ailed you.

ulcerated bowels: could be ulcerative colitis or infectious colitis characterized by bloody diarrhea

AGUE: used to define the recurring fever & chills of malarial infection

APHONIA: laryngitis

BILIOUSNES: jaundice or other symptoms associated with liver disease

CAMP FEVER: typhus

CANINE MADDNESS: hydrophobia

CHLOROSIS: iron deficency anemia

CORRUPTION: infection

CORYZA: a cold

COSTIVENNESS: constipation

CRAMP COLIC: appenditis

DROPSEY: edwma (swelling), often caused by kidney or heart disease

DYSEPSIA: acid indigestion

EXTRAVASTED BLOOD: rupture of a blood vessel


FLUS OF HUMOR: circulation

FRENCH POX: veneral disease


HIP GOUT: osteomylitis

JAIL FEVER: typhus

KINGS EVIL: tubercular infection of the throat lymph glands


LUES VENERA: veneral disease

LUMBAGO: back pain

LUNG FEVER: pneumonia

LUNG SICKNESS: tuberculosis

MANIA: insanity


NOSTALIA: homesickness

PUTRID FEVER: diptheria

QUINSY: toncillitis



SCREWS: rheumatism



STRANGERY: rupture

SUMMER COMPLAIN: baby diarrhea caused by spoiled milk


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