Civil War Disease Glossary

The 51st North Carolina’s service records contain references to many different diseases. Below is a glossary of the diseases mentioned in the soldiers’ records.

DiseaseDescription
AbcessusSwollen, inflamed area of body (see Carbuncle)
Acute DiarrheaThree episodes of diarrhea within 24 hours; can be caused by bacteria or virus
AgueMalaria
AnasarcaEdema (swelling) of the skin
AnemiaFatigue and dizziness caused by low red cells
AnthraxBacterial infection of skin, lungs, or intestines
ApoplexiaParalysis due to stroke
Articular RheumatismContraction of muscles; extreme cases can cause a limb to become unusable
AscitesAccumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity
AsthmaShortness of breath; can be caused by poor nutrition
Bilious ColicAche in the upper abdomen; usually caused by the gallbladder
Bilious FeverPossibly typhoid, malaria, or hepatitis
Bowel ConsumptionInflammation of the intestines caused by tuberculosis
BronchitisInflammation of the lung’s airways
Brain FeverMeningitis
CarbuncleAlso called abscessus; cluster of boils on the skin; caused by bacteria
CardialgiaHeartburn
CatarrhusInflammation of mucous membranes
CoxalgiaPain in the hip
CholeraContagious disease with severe diarrhea
Cholera MorbusInfectious disease with nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever
Chronic DiarrheaDiarrhea that lasts more than 14 days; usually caused by bacteria or virus
Congestion of the BowelsConstipation
Congestive FeverMalaria
Continuous FeverProbably typhoid fever in most cases
ConstipationInfrequent or irregular bowel movements
ConsumptionTuberculosis
CystitisInflammation of the bladder
DebilityLoss of strength; fatigue; often used to describe dysentery
DiarrheaUrgent, frequent, watery bowel movements
DiphtheriaContagious disease of the throat
DropsyEdema (swelling), often caused by heart or kidney disease
DysenteryInflammation of the intestines caused by bacteria or parasites
DyspepsiaGastric discomfort after eating
EpilepsyEpisodes of confusion, spasms; can be caused by meningitis or head injury
EpistaxisNose bleed
Eruptive FeverCould be measles or small pox
ErysipelisContagious skin disease caused by the strep virus
Fibris GoutSwollen and tender joints
GastritisInflammation of the stomach lining
GonorrheaBacterial infection of genitalia
HemoptysisSpitting up blood; likely tuberculosis
HemorrhoidsSwelling and inflammation of arteries and veins in the anus
HepatitisViral infection of the liver
HydroceleSwollen scrotum
HypertrophyEnlarged organ
IcterusJaundice
Intermittent FeverUsually malaria
JaundiceYellow skin caused by liver; could be malaria or hepatitis
LaryngitisInflammation of the throat caused by virus or bacteria
MeningitisInflammation of the brain
Morbi CutisMeasles
MumpsViral infection of the parotid gland
NephritisInflammation of the kidneys
NeuralgiaHeadache
OrchitisInflammation of the testicles caused by virus or bacteria
OtalgiaEar ache
OtorrheaEar drainage
ParotitisMumps
Phthisis PulmonalisTuberculosis
PleuritisPain in the chest when breathing
PneumoniaInflammation of the lungs
PyaemiaBlood poisoning; often fatal
Remittent FeverUsually malaria
RheumatismInflammation of joints and muscles
Rheumatic CarditisPain in the heart and joints with fever; occurs after a strep bacterial infection
RubeolaMeasles
ScabiesInfestation by skin mites
ScorbutusScurvy
Sick HeadacheMigraine
SmallpoxContagious disease with fever and blisters
Sore StemSore throat; distemper — diphtheria
StrictureNarrowing of a passageway in the body
SubluxationIncomplete dislocation
SyphilisBacterial infection that causes sores or rash
TetanusInfectuous disease with high fever
TonsilitisInflammation of the tonsils
TuberculosisBacterial infection mainly in the lungs
Typhoid FeverBacterial infection caused by contaminated food and water; fever and diarrhea
Typhoid PneumoniaSpecific type of pneumonia
UlcusUlcers of the skin
VariolaSmallpox

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