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19th Century Medical Terms

Hunter Valley Colonial Medical Practitioners Index

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ABLEPSIA - blindness

ACCOUCHEMENT - Process of giving birth

AGLUTITION - inability to swallow, frequently found on death certificates

AGUE - recurring fever and chills of of malaria

AGUE-CAKE - a hard tumour or swelling on the left side of the abdomen, lower than the false rib, resulting from enlargement of the spleen or liver, and supposed to be the effect of intermitting fevers

ANASARCA - Generalized massive oedema.   Aso known as extreme generalized oedema

ANCOME - [whitlow] an ulcerous swelling, a boil  

APHONIA - Laryngitis

APOPLEXY - stroke 

APHTHA - The infant disease "thrush" 

ARTHROPYOSIS - formation of pus in a joint cavity

ASPHYCSIA/ASPHICSIA - Cyanotic and lack of oxygen

ATROPHY - Wasting away or diminishing in size.

ABSCESSIO AXILLA - Abscess in the armpit




BARREL FEVER - sickness produced by immoderate drinking

BILIOUS FEVER - fever caused by liver disorder  

BLACK PLAGUE OR DEATH - Bubonic plague

BLACK FEVER - Acute infection with high temperature and dark red skin lesions and high mortality rate

BLACK LUNG - disease from breathing coal dust  

BLACK POX - Black Small pox

BLACKWATER FEVER - Dark urine associated with high temperature

BLADDER IN THROAT - Diphtheria (Seen on death certificates)

BLISTERING/ BLISTERING PLASTER - Irritants were applied to the body in the belief that diseases could be brought out from internal organs to the surface to be dispelled. This was then carried out with a blistering plaster made of fat or wax applied to the skin.

BLOODLETTING - The removal of blood, usually from a vein.

BLOOD POISONING - Bacterial infection; septicaemia

BLOODY FLUX - dysentery

BLOODY SWEAT - a sweat accompanied by a discharge of blood
BONE SHAVE - Sciatica 

BRAIN FEVER - Meningitis

BREAKBONE - Dengue fever

BRIGHT'S DISEASE - inflammation of the kidneys - in its acute form, it is called nephritis

BUBO - A bubo (Greek boub˘n, "groin") (plural form: buboes) is swelling of the lymph nodes. It is found in infections such as bubonic plague, gonorrhea, tuberculosis or syphilis. It is similar in appearance to a huge blister, and usually appears under the armpit, in the groin or on the neck.

BUBONIC PLAGUE - Bacterial infection transmitted by fleas from infected rats to humans. Outbreak in Sydney in early 1900s and later in other ports including Newcastle

BULE - Boil, tumour or swelling




CACHEXY - Malnutrition

CACOGASTRIC - Upset stomach

CACOSPYSY - Irregular pulse

CADUCEUS - Subject to falling sickness or epilepsy

CALIGO - Dimness or obscurity of sight

CALOMEL - Mineral (mercury chloride). A strong purgative acting on the liver. Used to treat dysentry

CAMP FEVER - typhus  

CANINE MADNESS - Rabies, hydrophobia

CANKER - Ulceration of mouth or lips or herpes simplex

CATHARTICS - An agent for purging the bowells

CATALEPSY - Seizures / trances

CATARRH - inflammation of the mucous membrane which caused profuse running of the eyes and nose  

CEPHALALGIA - Pain in the head; headache

CEREBRITIS - Inflammation of cerebrum or lead poisoning

CHILBLAIN - an inflammatory swelling of the hands and feet caused by exposure to cold

CHILD BED FEVER - Infection following birth of a child

CHIN COUGH - [WHOOPING COUGH] characterized by breathing difficulties, and in its worst stage, convulsions

CHLOROSIS - (GREEN SICKNESS) - Iron deficiency anaemia; a disease of young women giving the complexion a greenish tinge   Online

CHOLERA - Acute severe contagious diarrhoea with intestinal lining sloughing

CHOLERA MORBUS - Characterized by nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, elevated temperature, etc. Could be appendicitis. The term cholera morbus was used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to describe both nonepidemic cholera and other gastrointestinal diseases (sometimes epidemic) that resembled cholera

CHOLECYSTITUS - Inflammation of the gall bladder


CHOREA - Disease characterized by convulsions and contortions

COLD PLAGUE - Ague which is characterized by chills

COLIC - An abdominal pain and cramping


CONGESTION - Any collection of fluid in an organ, like the lungs

CONGESTIVE CHILLS - Malaria with diarrhoea

CONSUMPTION - tuberculosis . Caused a wasting of tissues. Usually pulmonary tuberculosis

CONTUSIO CEREBRI -  a form of traumatic brain injury, is a bruise of the brain tissue

CORRUPTION - infection

CORYZA - A cold

COSTIVENESS - Constipation

COUP DE SOLEIL - Sun stroke

CRAMP COLIC - Appendicitis

CROP SICKNESS - Overextended stomach

CROUP - Laryngitis, diphtheria, or strep throat

CYANOSIS - Dark skin colour from lack of oxygen in blood

CYANCHE - Diseases of throat

CYANCHE TONSILLARIS - A common term for acute suppurative tonsillitis

CYSTITIS - Inflammation of the bladder



DAY FEVER - a fever of a day's duration or coming on in the daytime; the sweating sickness Debility - Lack of movement or staying in bed

DEBILITY - General state of feebleness and weakness

DECREPITUDE - Feebleness due to old age

DELIRIUM TREMENS - Hallucinations due to alcoholism

DENGUE - Infectious fever endemic to East Africa

DENTITION - Cutting of teeth

DEPLUMATION - Tumour of the eyelids which causes hair loss from the eyebrows

DIARY FEVER - A fever that lasts one day

DIATHESIS - a predisposing condition or habit of body; constitutional predisposition: as, a strumous or scrofulous diathesis.

DIPHTHERIA - an infectious disease characterized by the production of a systemic toxin and the formation of a false membrane on the lining of the mucous membrane of the throat and other respiratory passages, causing difficulty in breathing, high fever, and weakness Online

DISTEMPER - Usually animal disease with malaise, discharge from nose and throat, anorexia

DOCK FEVER - yellow fever  

DROPSY - an abnormal collection of fluid in the tissues and cavities of the body. Runaway convicts from Newcastle were sometimes affected due to the lack of vitamin B complex  - A cure for dropsy in 1816  ╗Online

DROPSY OF THE BRAIN - encephalitis.

DRY BELLYACHE - Lead poisoning  ╗Online 1861

DYSCRASY - An abnormal body condition

DYSENTERY - inflammation of intestinal membrane caused by bacteria. Epidemics common in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions

DYSOPIA - defective vision

DYSPEPSIA - bad digestion usually involving weakness, loss of appetite, and depression 

DYSOREXY - Reduced appetite

DYSURY / DYSURIA - difficulty in discharging urine, accompanied by pain and a sensation of heat



ECSTASY - A form of catalepsy characterized by loss of reason

ELEPHANTIASIS - A form of leprosy.   Leprosy in Maitland 1893 - Online

ENCEPHALITIS - Swelling of brain; ' sleeping sickness'

ENTERIC FEVER - Typhoid fever.  Care of the patient in 1892Online

EPITAXIS - Nose bleed

ENTEROCOLITIS - Inflammation of the intestines

ENTERITIS - Inflammation of the intestines, could also take the form of enteric fever (typhoid)

ERYSIPHELAS - [Saint Anthony's Fire] a skin disease caused by strep infection. An acute, sometimes recurrent disease, characterized by large raised red patches on the skin. 

EXCRESCENCE - an unnatural or disfiguring outgrowth of the skin 

EXTRAVASTED BLOOD - Rupture of a blood vessel




FEBRIS TYPHUS - Latin for Typhus fever

FATTY LIVER - Cirrhosis of liver

FITS - Sudden attack or seizure of muscle activity

FLUX - An excessive flow or discharge of fluid like haemorrhage or diarrhoea

FLUX OF HUMOUR - Circulation

FOMENTATIONS - Cloth steeped in hot water and applied to a sore place or wound such as a boil

FRENCH POX - Syphilis




GALLOPING CONSUMPTION - pulmonary tuberculosis

GASTRODYNIA - Stomach pain

GATHERING - A collection of pus

GLANDULAR FEVER - Mononucleosis

GOITER - [struma] a non cancerous enlargement of the thyroid gland, visible as a swelling at the front of the neck, that is often associated with iodine deficiency

GOUT - a disturbance of uric-acid metabolism occurring predominantly in males, characterized by painful inflammation of the joints, especially of the feet and hands

GRAVEDO -  cold in the head

GRAVEL - kidney stones

GRAVE'S DISEASE - disorder of the thyroid gland  

GREAT POX - Syphilis

GREEN SICKNESS - [CHLOROSIS] anaemia; a disease of young women giving the complexion a greenish tinge   Online

GROCER'S ITCH - a cutaneous disease caused by mites in sugar and flour

GRIPE / LA GRIPPE - influenza 




HEAT SICKNESS - a condition marked especially by cessation of sweating and extremely high body temperature, caused by a loss of salt from the 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

HAEMATEMESIS - vomiting blood

HAEMATURIA - a discharge of bloody urine

HEMIPHLEGY - a palsy or paralysis that affects one side of the body

HIP GOUT - Osteomyelitis

HORRORS - Delirium tremens

HYDROCEPHALUS - Enlarged head, water on the brain



HYDROTHORAX - Dropsy in chest. Condition arising from accumulation of fluid in the pleural cavity

HYPERTROPHIC - Enlargement of organ, like the heart

HYPOGASTRIUM - The hypogastrium (alternative names including hypogastric region, pubic region and suprapubic region) is an area of the human abdomen located below the navel



ICTERUS  - Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes caused by an accumulation of bile pigment (bilirubin) in the blood; can be a symptom of gallstones or liver infection or anemia

IMPETIGO - Contagious skin disease characterized by pustules

INANITION - Physical condition resulting from lack of food



INTERMITTENT FEVER - recurring fever, possibly malaria

INTESTINAL COLIC - Abdominal pain due to improper diet





JAUNDICE - a condition caused by obstruction of bile and characterized by yellowness of the skin, fluids and tissues, and by constipation, loss of appetite, and weakness 





KING'S EVIL - Tuberculosis of neck and lymph glands

KRUCHHUSTEN - Whooping cough



LAGRIPPE - Influenza

LEECHING - Attaching leeches to the body to remove swelling or excess blood

LOCKHAW - Tetanus or infectious disease affecting the muscles of the neck and jaw. Untreated, it is fatal in 8 days

LONG SICKNESS - Tuberculosis


LUES VENERA - Venereal disease

LUMBAGO - Back pain

LUNG FEVER - Pneumonia

LUNG SICKNESS - Tuberculosis

LYING IN - Time of delivery of infant





MANIA - Insanity

MARASMUS - Progressive wasting away of body, like malnutrition


MENINGITIS - Inflations of brain or spinal cord

METRITIS - Inflammation of uterus or purulent vaginal discharge

MIASMA - Poisonous vapours 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 PROSTRATIOIN - Extreme exhaustion from inability to control physical and mental activities

NEURALGIA - Described as discomfort, such as "Headache" was neuralgia in head

NEURASTHENIA - neurotic condition characterised by worry, disturbances of digestion and circulation and attributed to emotional conflict and feelings of inferiority  

NOSTALGIA - Homesickness

NYCTALOPIA - a condition characterized by an abnormal inability to see in dim light or at night, typically caused by vitamin A deficiency.




OBSTIPATIO - Constipation

OEDEMA - swelling of tissues  

OEDEMA of lungs - Congestive heart failure, a form of dropsy

OPTHALMIA - inflammation of the eye, caused by sand, dust, lime burning. Also known as sandy blight. Common in the Hunter Valley. In 1853 Dr. Markham of Armidale was offering a cure for the condition.  Online




PALSY - Paralysis or uncontrolled movement of controlled muscles. 

PAROXYSM - Convulsion

PARONYCHIA - a skin infection that occurs around the nails.

PEMPHIGUS - Skin disease of watery blisters

PERICARDITIS - Inflammation of heart

PERIPNEUMONIA - Inflammation of lungs

PERITONITIS - Inflammation of abdominal area

PETECHIAL FEVER - Fever characterized by skin spotting

PHLEGMON is a spreading diffuse inflammatory process with formation of suppurative/purulent exudate or pus. This is the result of acute purulent inflammation which is due to bacterial infection.

PHLOGOSIS -  Inflammation of external parts of the body; erysipelatous inflammation.

PHTHIRIASIS - Lice infestation

PHTHISIS - Chronic wasting away due to lung disease often caused by breathing coal dust. Also known as tuberculosis, consumption, white plague or miner's lung

PLAGUE - An acute febrile highly infectious disease with a high fatality rate

PLEURISY - Any pain in the chest area with each breath


POTTS DISEASE - Tuberculosis of spine

POX - syphilis  

PSORA - A cutaneous disease; especially, the itch

PUERPERAL FEVER - Elevated temperature after giving birth to an infant

PUKING FEVER - Milk sickness

PULMONARY CONSUMPTION - Tuberculosis of the lungs

PUTRID FEVER - Diphtheria.




QUINSY / QUINCY - severe attack of tonsillitis which resulted in abscess near the tonsils 




RAMOLLISSEMENT CEREBRI -  Softening of brain - Result of stroke or haemorrhage in the brain, with an end result of the tissue softening in that area; apoplexy.


RHEUMATISM - or rheumatismus -a painful disease affecting muscles and joints, chiefly the larger joints

RICKETS - Disease of skeletal system

RUBELLA - German measles





SANDY BLIGHT - see Opthalmia  Cure for the Sandy Blight 1877


SCALD HEAD - any of several diseases of the scalp characterized by falling out of the hair and by pustules the dried discharge of which forms scales

SCARLATINA - Scarlet fever

SCARLET FEVER - A disease characterized by red rash  - Treatment for Scarlet Fever in 1890


SCIATICA - Rheumatism in the hips

SCIRRHUS - Cancerous tumours


SCOTOMY - Dizziness, nausea and dimness of sight

SCRIVENER'S PALSY - Writer's cramp - Rheumatism  -Cure in 1884

SCROFULA - Lowered resistance of skin and lymph glands predisposed patient to tuberculosis. Enlarged lymph nodes in neck. Chronic condition

SCRUMPOX - Skin disease, impetigo

SCURVY - Lack of vitamin C. Symptoms of weakness, spongy gums and haemorrhages under skin . Select here to read a description of scurvy from the medical journal of Andrew Henderson on the convict ship Royal Admiral

SEPTICAEMIA - Blood poisoning

SHAKES - Delirium tremens

SHAKING - Chills, ague

SHINGLES - Viral disease with skin blisters


SIRIASIS - Inflammation of the brain due to sun exposure

SLOES - Milk sickness

SMALL POX - Contagious disease with fever and blisters Softening of brain - Result of stroke or haemorrhage 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 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 are bright red in appearance

ST. VITAS DANCE - Ceaseless occurrence of rapid complex jerking movements performed involuntary

STOMATITIS - Inflammation of the mouth

STRANGER'S FEVER - Yellow fever


SUDOR ANGLICUS - Sweating sickness

SUMMER COMPLAINT - Diarrhoea, 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 UK in 15th century

SYNOCHUS - Continuous fever - (Three prisoners died of Synochus on the voyage of the convict ship Andromeda in 1833)



TABES  MESENTERICA - A wasting disease of childhood characterized by chronic inflammation of the lymphatic glands of the mesentery,

TAPPING - A needle was inserted through skin into a tumor and the tumor drained

TETANUS - Infectious fever 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


TRENCH MOUTH - Painful ulcers found along gum line, Caused by poor nutrition and poor hygiene

TREPANNING - Surgery - Hole cut or bored into the skull to cure headaches, fractures and tumors or to treat insanity.

TUSIS CONVULSIVA - Whooping cough

TYPHUS - Infectious fever characterized high fever, headache, and dizziness





ULCERATION - loss of the surface covering, such as of skin or the mucous lining, of the intestine  



VARIOLA - Smallpox

VARICELLA - Chickenpox


VIPER'S DANCE - St. Vitus Dance

VULNUS - Wound or injury





WHITLOW - an ulcerous swelling, a boil

WHOOPING COUGH - [PERTUSSIS or CHIN COUGH] a highly contagious disease of the respiratory system, usually affecting children, that is characterized in its advanced stage by spasms of coughing interspersed with deep, noisy inspirations  

WHITE SWELLING - Tuberculosis of the bone

WINTER FEVER - Pneumonia

WOMB FEVER - Infection of the uterus.

WORM FIT - Convulsions associated with teething, worms, elevated temperature or diarrhoea







YELLOW JACKET - yellow fever




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