Compiled and revised by Ian Beach.
Bunbury, Western Australia

All suggestions or additions gratefully received.

eMail: Ian Beach


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Thickening of the skin

Painter's Colic

Chronic intestinal pains and constipation caused by lead poisoning. Also called lead colic or Devonshire Colic. (Thanks to Lynn Mills)


Paralysis or difficulty with muscle control - often modified as in Bell's palsy, cerebral palsy etc

Panama fever

See Ague

Paralysis Agitants

Parkinson's disease

Paralysis Of The Insane(GPI)

Mental disturbance along with muscular paralysis.


See Quinsy.


Convulsion (a fit)


Nicotinic acid (a B vitamin) deficiency


Skin disease of watery blisters


A substance produced during the hydrolysis of protein by the action of pepsin.


Inflammation of the pericardium (a membrane surrounding the heart)


The delicate membrane that line the abdominal and pelvic cavities and also cover the organs contained in them.


Inflammation of the peritoneum (see above)




Cracked sores at the angles of the mouth

Pernicious Anaemia

Anaemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. In modem times the term is actually reserved for people whose stomachs fail to produce adequate amounts of a chemical called intrinsic factor which is necessary for vitamin B12 to be absorbed (otherwise known as Addisonian pernicious anaemia). This means that B12 has to be given by injection. There is an increased incidence of stomach cancer in people with pernicious anaemia


Whooping cough

Petechial Fever


Peyer's Patches

Flat patches of lymphatic tissue situated in the small intestine but mainly in the ileum. They are the seat of infection of Typhoid fever and Tuberculosis.

Phlegmasia Alba Dolens

Thrombosis of veins in the thigh usually seen after childbirth


The nature of phlegmon which is a condition of acute suppuration of the lose connective tissue.


Inflammation of the brain


An infestation with lice.

Phthisis/Phthisis Pulmonalis

Probably Tuberculosis


Abnormal craving to eat unusual things such as chalk or hair or faeces.

Pink Disease

Disease of teething infants due to mercury poisoning from teething powders.

Pink Disease Support Group
PO Box 134
NSW 2827
Contact, Heather Thiele
Pink Disease Support Group Founder and Treasurer.
Founded in March 1989

Plague/Black Death

Bubonic Plague

Plastic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis


Inflammation of the pleura, the membranous sac lining the chest cavity, with or without fluid collected in the pleural cavity. Symptoms are chills, fever, dry cough, and pain in the affected side (a stitch).


Lead Poisioning (from Plumbum = Latin for Lead)


Inflammation of the lungs with congestion or consolidation---caused by viruses, bacteria, or physical and chemical agents.




Diseases with abnormal metabolism, sometimes genetically caused, with symptoms suggesting insanity (from the Latin "porphyrin" - purple substance excreted by porphyria patients) This disease was possibly the cause of King George III's "insanity"

Potter's Asthma


Pott's Disease

Tuberculosis of the spinal vertebrae


Usually syphilis. See Genealogical Pox

Protein Disease

Nephrotic syndrome. A once relatively common childhood kidney disease that causes the kidney to leak protein. Often a complication of streptococcal infection


A general term denoting and mental disorder.

Puerperal Exhaustion

Death due to childbirth

Puerperal Fever or Puerperal Sepsis

Childbed Fever. Infection through injuries to the birth canal leading to septicaemia and often to death. PF's cause was found in the poor antiseptic measures of physicians going from corpse to birthing mother without washing their hands. It was a hospital epidemic, flourishing when the birth site was moved from home to hospital. The midwives did not experience this problem to the same degree that doctors did. We see this is still the case. Though rare, the hospital bound mother is still more likely to experience this disease than her homebirth (and midwife attended) counterpart.
(Many thanks to Carolee Hall for this description)

It is understood that Jane Seymour, wife of Henry VIII of England died of this following the birth of her son Edward (later Edward VI) in 1537.

Puking Fever

Milk sickness

Pulmonary Consumption

Probably Tuberculosis


This is a rash due to spontaneous bleeding in to the skin. There are many causes. The age of the victim would be relevant


A yellow-white, more or less viscid substance found in abscesses and sores, consisting of a liquid plasma in which white blood cells are formed and suspended by the process of inflammation.

Putrid fever

See Typhus.

Putrid sore throat

Ulceration of an acute form, attacking the tonsils and rapidly running into sloughing of the fauces (the cavity at the back of the mouth, leading to the pharynx).


A condition in which collection of pyogenic bacteria circulate in the blood at intervals producing abscesses wherever they lodge.


Inflammation of the pelvis of the kidney. Also -


Inflammation of the pelvis of the kidney


A form of renal infection which spreads outwards from the pelvis to the cortex of the kidney.


The opening of the stomach into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine).


See dysentery.

Quincke's Disease

Angioneurotic Oedema - severe and potentially fatal allergic reaction


A fever, or a febrile condition. An acute inflammation of the tonsils, often leading to an abscess; peritonsillar abscess. Synonyms suppurative tonsillitis, cynanche tonsillaris, paristhmitis, sore throat.

Rag-Picker's Disease


Railway Spine

Back injury with injury to the spinal cord (common in railway workers)

Raynauds Disease

A symmetrical disturbance of the circulation of the extremities due to vascular spasm. In severe cases gangrene may supervene


A flowing back, as of blood returning from the ventricles into the auricle when valves of the heart are defective.

Remitting Fever



Pertaining to the kidney.


Any disorder associated with pain in joints


Disease of skeletal system mainly due to Vitamin D deficiency

Rising Of The Lights


Rodent Ulcer

Type of skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma)

Rose Cold

Hay fever or nasal symptoms of an allergy


See Erysipelas




German measles


Can be Measles or German measles

Sanguinous Crust



Malignant growth derived from connective tissues. Is non-encapuled, spreads mainly by blood stream. Several types.

Scarlatina, Scarlet fever or Scarlet Rash

A contagious febrile disease, caused by infection with the bacteria group. A beta-haemolytic streptococci (which elaborate a toxin with an affinity for red blood cells) and characterised by a scarlet eruption, tonsillitis, and pharyngitis.


Refers to a growth, often a carcinoma, that was hard and strong due to dense fibrous tissue.


Disturbance of vision causing dizziness



Scrivener's Palsy

Writer's cramp


Primary tuberculosis of the lymphatic glands, especially those in the neck. A disease of children and young adults, it represents a direct extension of tuberculosis into the skin from underlying lymph nodes. It evolves into cold abscesses, multiple skin ulcers, and draining sinus tracts. Synonym - King's Evil.


See Impetigo


Lack of vitamin C. Symptoms of weakness, spongy gums and haemorrhages under skin


Latin for old age

Senile Decay

The non-specific effects of old age.

Septic Dermatitis

Skin infection.


Infected, a condition of local or generalised invasion of the body by disease-causing micro organisms (germs) or their toxins.


Blood poisoning


Piece of dead bone

Serum Sickness



See Delirium Tremens

Shaking Chills

See Ague

Shaking Palsy

Parkinson's disease


Viral disease with painful skin blisters in a band or line on the body. Caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox

Ship fever

See Typhus.


Shaped like the letter "S". Sigmoid flexure – an "S" shaped curve joining the descending colon above to the rectum below.

Simple Angina

Sore throat


Inflammation of the brain due to sun exposure


Milk sickness

Small Pox

Contagious viral disease with fever and blisters.

Softening of the Brain

Cerebral haemorrhage/stroke

Sore Throat Distemper

Diphtheria or Quinsy

Spanish Disease


Spanish Influenza

Epidemic influenza


Stiffness of muscles or joints.

Spina bifida

Deformity of spine


Inflammation of a vertebra.

Spotted fever

Either Typhus or Menigitis.


Chronic malabsorption with sore tongue, indigestion, weakness, anaemia and greasy stools



St Anthony's Fire

Skin disease caused by toxins from fungal infection (ergot poisoning). Saint Anthony was supposed to cure it miraculously. May be used for Erysipelas

St Vitus Dance

Ceaseless occurrence of rapid jerking movements performed involuntary. Complication of streptococcal infection.


A narrowing – stenoses.


Inflammation of the mouth


Painful urination or may mean rupture

Stranger's Fever

Yellow fever


Goitre (swelling of the thyroid gland at the front of the neck)



Sudor Anglicus

Sweating sickness


The stoppage of respiration. In the nineteenth century, suffocation was reported as being accidental or homicidal. The accidents could be by the impaction of pieces of food or other obstacles in the pharynx or by the entry of foreign bodies into the larynx (as a seed, coin, or food). Suffocation of newborn children by smothering under bedclothes may have happened from carelessness as well as from intent. However, the deaths also could have been due to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), wherein the sudden and unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant, while asleep, typically occurs between the ages of three weeks and five months and is not explained by careful post mortem studies. Synonyms of SIDS crib death and cot death. It was felt that victims of homicidal suffocation were chiefly infants or feeble and infirm persons.

Summer complaint

See Cholera infantum.

Summer Diarrhoea

Caused by inadequate hygiene.


Uncontrolled elevation of body temperature due to environment heat. Lack of sodium in the body is a predisposing cause


The production of pus.

Surfeit or Surfit

Means vomiting from over eating or gluttony. If someone doesn't eat for a while and then eats a large meal they can become very ill and gluttony could imply obesity.

Swamp Sickness

Could be malaria, typhoid or encephalitis

Sweating Sickness

Infectious & fatal disease common to the UK in the 15th century. This could be influenza

Sycosis Barbae

Infection of the hair follicles of the beard area


Dropped dead.


Continued fever

Tabes mesenterica

Tuberculosis of the mesenteric glands in children, resulting in digestive derangement and wasting of the body.

Tâche Cérébrale

Red line on the forehead seen in tuberculous meningitis


The entire process which results in the eruption of the teeth. Nineteenth-century medical reports stated that infants were more prone to disease at the time of teething. Symptoms were restlessness, fretfulness, convulsions, diarrhoea, and painful and swollen gums. The latter could be relieved by lancing over the protruding tooth. Often teething was reported as a cause of death in infants. Perhaps they became susceptible to infections, especially if lancing was performed without antisepsis. Another explanation of teething as a cause of death is that infants were often weaned at the time of teething; perhaps they then died from drinking contaminated milk, leading to an infection, or from malnutrition if watered-down milk was given.

Testaceous Powders

Medicinal powders prepared from the shells of animals.

Tetanus Neonatorum

Tetanus in the new born due to infection of the umbilical cord stump following birth in unhygienic conditions


An infectious, often-fatal disease caused by a specific bacterium, Clostridium tetani, that enters the body through wounds; characterised by respiratory paralysis and tonic spasms and rigidity of the voluntary muscles, especially those of the neck and lower jaw. Synonyms - Trismus, lockjaw.


The chest cavity


Blood clot inside blood vessel


A disease characterised by whitish spots and ulcers on the membranes of the mouth, tongue, and fauces caused by a parasitic fungus, Candida albicans. Thrush usually affects sick, weak infants and elderly individuals in poor health. Now it is a common complication from excessive use of broad-spectrum antibiotics or cortisone treatment. Synonyms - aphthae, sore mouth, aphthous stomatitis.


Another name for Hyperthyroidism or over active thyroid gland.

Tick Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Tinea Sycosis

Infection of the hair follicles of the beard area


Acute wringing pains in the abdomen; colic, gripes

Toxaemia Of Pregnancy

Eclampsia (high blood pressure Oedema and seizures in pregnancy)

Trench Fever


Trench Mouth

Painful ulcers found along gum line, caused by poor nutrition and poor hygiene

Trismus nascentium or neonatorum

A form of tetanus seen only in infants, almost invariably in the first five days of life, probably due to infection of the umbilical stump.


A parasitic disease caused by eating raw or undercooked pork.


A genus of parasitic protozoan, some of which are parasites of the blood and cause such diseases as sleeping sickness. Also -


Sleeping sickness. A tropical disease caused by a bite of the Tsetse fly.

Tussis convulsiva

Whooping cough

Typhoid fever

An infectious, often-fatal, febrile disease, usually occurring in the summer months—characterised by intestinal inflammation and ulceration caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi, which is usually introduced by food or drink. Symptoms include prolonged hectic fever, malaise, transient characteristic skin rash (rose spots), abdominal pain, enlarged spleen, slowness of heart rate, delirium, and low white-blood cell count. The name came from the disease's similarity to typhus (see below). Synonym: enteric fever. Fever commonly running a three week course, which is found in practically all the tissues and especially the Peyer's patches (see above) of the intestine which become inflamed and thinned out. A rose coloured rash appears on the abdomen, chest or back about the seventh day.


An acute, infectious disease caused by several micro-organism species of Rickettsia (transmitted by lice and fleas) and characterised by acute prostration, high fever, depression, delirium, headache, and a peculiar eruption of reddish spots on the body. The epidemic or classic form is louse borne; the endemic or murine is flea borne. Synonyms - Typhus fever, malignant fever (in the 1850s), jail fever, hospital fever, ship fever, putrid fever, brain fever, bilious fever, spotted fever, petechial fever, camp fever


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