I have encountered many unusual medical terms explaining ‘cause of death.’ Some of them I could figure out but others, I just wasn’t sure of. Obviously many of the same conditions exist today but with all of the modern scientific approaches to medicines they been granted more appropriate and understandable names. I thought it might be helpful for others who are doing their family research for me to list some of the ‘curious’ ones I have come across. They had heart disease, still born babies. blue babies, TB, diphtheria and even suicides. What I didn’t find much of was measles, scarlet fever or cancer. When I find the death record of an ancestor, it is usually on a page with 25-30 other names. I have chosen some of the more unusual ones from death records in
Boston in the 1875-1885 era.
Apoplexy – This appears to be what we today call a stroke.
Cholera Infantum – Infants seemed to be the most effected by this with uncontrollable diarrhea and then collapse. This seemed to be associated with hot weather and large cities.
Compression of Brain – This is apparently when the brain swells after an injury
Congestion of liver – Probably what we know as cirrhosis of the liver
Consumption of Bowels – tuberculosis of the intestinal tract
Inanition – the quality of being empty. I would guess starving, maybe due to not being able to keep food down.
Marasmas – generally a wasting away due to a feeble condition, not really attributed to any specific cause. Saw this recorded for quite a few babies
Mitral Regurgitation – the mitral heart value doesn’t close completely, allowing blood to flow back into the heart, causing the heart to work less efficiently
Paralysing Heart – pretty much what it sounds like – a heart that no longer has any function
Parturition Septicaemia – infection during child birth
Pericarditis – inflammation of the sac around the heat due to either a virus or bacteria, with chest pain
Phthisis Pulmanitis – A wasting away of the lungs, better known as consumption or tuberculosis
Supperating glands – swollen glands that begin to discharge fluids or pus
Teething – the closest I can find on this is that teething caused severe diarrhea which, in turn, caused debilitation
Traumatic peritonitis – traumatic meaning injury, inflammation of the lining of the abdomen usually caused by bacteria or fungi
Tuberculosis – in general, this disease could effect any organ, where the symptoms might vary but the result would still be the same.
Tubercular Meningitis – An inflammation of the membranes of the brain, in this case caused by tuberculosis.
Typhoid – an infectious disease introduced with food or water causing inflammation of mucous membranes, in this case the bowels, and enlargement of the spleen and glands
Merriam Webster Dictionary