Nineteenth century disease

From Wikipedia:

Epidemics of the 19th century were faced without the medical advances that made 20th-century epidemics much rarer and less lethal. Micro-organisms (viruses and bacteria) had been discovered in the 18th century, but it was not until the late 19th century that the experiments of Lazzaro Spallanzani and Louis Pasteur disproved spontaneous generation conclusively, allowing germ theory and Robert Koch’s discovery of micro-organisms as the cause of disease transmission. Thus throughout the majority of the 19th century, there was only the most basic, common-sense understanding of the causes, amelioration, and treatment of epidemic disease.

Medical advancements in the practice of autopsy helped lead to a better understanding of how the body works and what were the functions of various body parts.

The 19th century did, however, mark a transformation period in medicine. This included the first uses of chloroform and nitrous dioxides as anesthesia, important discoveries in regards of pathology and the perfection of the autopsy, and advances in our understanding of the human body.  Medical institutions were also transitioning to new hospital styles to try to prevent the spread of disease and stop over crowding with the mixing of the poor and the sick which had been a common practice.  With the increasing rise in urban population, disease and epidemic crisis became much more prevalent and was seen as a consequence of urban living.  Problems arose as both governments and the medical professionals at the time tried to get a handle on the spread of disease. They had yet to figure out what actually causes disease. So as those in authority scrambled to make leaps and bounds in science and track down what may be the cause of these epidemics, entire communities would be lost to the grips of terrible ailments. 

Common diseases that went by other names in the 19th century.


19th centurycurrent
green sicknessanemia
cramp colicappendicitis
black death, typhusbubonic plague
Asiatic choleracholera
dropsy, anascaracongestive heart failure
croup, hives, choakcroup
putrid fever, membranous croupdiptheria
bloody fluxdysentery
puerperal  toxaemia eclampsia
dropsy of the brain encephalitis
erotomania, nymphomania (f), satyriasis  (m) hypersexuality
bilious feverliver disease 
ague, congestive fever, chill fevermalaria 
brain fevermeningitis 
dropsyoedema, ascites (morbid accumulation of  water in the tissues & cavities) as a symptom of kidney disease, heart failure, liver disease, chronic lung disease
lung feverpneumonia 
puerperal mania, insanity, melancholia postpartum psychosis
childbed feverpuerperal fever, postpartum inflammation
scarlet fever, malignant quinsy, putrid sore throat, canker rash scarlatina, cynanche maligna
apoplexy, convulsions stroke, cerebral hemorrhage
siriasis sunstroke, heat stroke
the great pox, French diseasesyphilis 
quinsytonsillitis, suppurative 
scrofulatuberculosis of the lymphatic glands
enteric fevertyphoid, typhoid fever
camp fever, ship’s fever, spotted fever typhus
lues veneravenereal disease
chin coughwhooping cough
Yellow Jack, Yellow Plague, Bronze John, dock feveryellow fever



Common Diseases in the 19th Century 

Nineteenth Century Disease (very detailed, with references)

A 19th-Century Mother’s Handwritten Record of Her Babies’ Childhood Illnesses

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.