Medical Terminology beginning with the letter C

Cachexy – Malnutrition.
Cacogastric – Upset stomach.
Cacospysy – Irregular pulse.
Caduceus – Subject to falling sickness or epilepsy.
Camp fever – Typhus; aka Camp diarrhea, typhoid fever.
Cancer – A malignant and invasive growth or tumor (especially tissue that covers a surface or lines a cavity), tending to recur after excision and to spread to other sites. In the nineteenth century, physicians noted that cancerous tumors tended to ulcerate, grew constantly, and progressed to a fatal end and that there was scarcely a tissue they would not invade. Synonyms: malignant growth, carcinoma.
Cancrum otis – A severe, destructive, eroding ulcer of the cheek and lip, rapidly proceeding to sloughing. In the last century it was seen in delicate, ill-fed, ill-tended children between the ages of two and five.
The disease was the result of poor hygiene acting upon a debilitated system. It commonly followed one of the eruptive fevers and was often fatal. The destructive disease could, in a few days, lead to gangrene of the lips, cheeks, tonsils, palate, tongue, and even half the face; teeth would fall from their sockets, and a horribly fetid saliva flowed from the parts. Synonyms: canker, water canker, noma, gangrenous stomatitis, gangrenous ulceration of the mouth.
Canine madness – Rabies, hydrophobia.
Canker – An ulcerous sore of the mouth and lips, not considered fatal today; herpes simplex Synonym: aphthous stomatitis. See cancrum otis.
Catalepsy – Condition which causes Seizures/trances or unconsciousness.
Catarrh – Inflammation of a mucous membrane, especially of the air passages of the head and throat, with a free discharge. It is characterized by cough, thirst, lassitude, fever, watery eyes, and increased secretions of mucus from the air passages. Bronchial catarrh was bronchitis; suffocative catarrh was croup; urethral catarrh was gleet; vaginal catarrh was leukorrhea; epidemic catarrh was the same as influenza. Synonyms: cold, coryza. Nose and throat discharge from cold or allergy; influenza.
Cerebritis – Inflammation of cerebrum or lead poisoning.
Chilblain – Swelling of extremities caused by exposure to cold and then heat; extremities turn black and itch unbearably.
Childbed – Childbirth.
Child bed fever – Infection following birth of a child; puerperal fever.
Childbirth – A cause given for many female deaths of the century. Almost all babies were born in homes and usually were delivered by a family member or a midwife; thus infection and lack of medical skill were often the actual causes of death.
Chin cough – Whooping cough.
Chlorosis – Iron deficiency anemia; condition of pale or greenish skin, weakness, & dyspepsia.
Cholecystitis – Inflammation of the gall bladder.
Cholelithiasis – Stones of the gall bladder.
Cholera – An acute, infectious disease, endemic in India and China and now occasionally epidemic elsewhere: characterized by profuse diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps. It is caused by a potent toxin discharged by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, which acts on the small intestine to cause secretion of large amounts of fluid. The painless, watery diarrhea and the passing of rice-water stool are characteristic. Great body-salt depletion occurs. Cholera is spread by feces-contaminated water and food. Major epidemics struck the United States in the years 1832, 1849, and 1866. In the 1830s the causes were generally thought to be intemperance in the use of ardent spirits or drinking bad water; uncleanness, poor living or crowded and ill-ventilated dwellings; and too much fatigue. By 1850 cholera was thought to be caused by putrid animal poison and miasma or pestilential vapor rising from swamps and marshes, or that it entered the body through the lungs or was transmitted through the medium of clothing. It was still believed that it attacked the poor, the dissolute, the diseased, and the fearful, while the healthy, well-clad, well-fed, and fearless man escaped the ravages of cholera.
Cholera infantum – A common, noncontagious diarrhea of young children, occurring in summer or autumn. In the nineteenth century it was considered indigenous to the United States; was prevalent during the hot weather in most of the towns of the middle and southern states, as well as many western areas; and was characterized by gastric pain, vomiting, purgation, fever, and prostration. It was common among the poor and in hand-fed babies. Death frequently occurred in three to five days. Synonyms: summer complaint, weaning brash, water gripes, choleric fever of children, cholera morbus.
Cholera morbus – Characterized by nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, elevated temperature, etc. Could be appendicitis.
Chorea – Any of several diseases of the nervous system, characterized by jerky movements that appear to be well co-ordinated but are performed involuntarily, chiefly of the face and extremities; convulsions, contortions and dancing. Synonym: Saint Vitus’ dance.
Chronic – Persisting over a long period of time as opposed to acute or sudden. This word was often the only one entered under “cause of death” in the mortality schedules. The actual disease meant by the term is open to speculation.
Cold plague – Ague which is characterized by chills.
Colic – Paroxysmal pain in the abdomen or bowels. Infantile colic is benign paroxysmal abdominal pain during the first three months of life. Colic rarely caused death; but in the last century a study reported that in cases of death, intussusception (the prolapse of one part of the intestine into the lumen of an immediately adjoining part) occasionally occurred. Renal colic can occur from disease in the kidney, gallstone colic from a stone in the bile duct.
Confinement – the conclusion of pregnancy; labor and childbirth.
Congestive chills – Malaria.
Consumption – A wasting away of the body; formerly applied especially to pulmonary tuberculosis. The disorder is now known to be an infectious disease caused by the bacterial species Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Synonyms: marasmus (in the mid 19th century), phthisis.
Congestion – An excessive or abnormal accumulation of blood or other fluid in a body part, blood vessel or an organ, like the lungs Congestive chills. Malaria with diarrhea.
Congestive fever – Malaria Corruption Infection.
Convulsions – Severe contortion of the body caused by violent, involuntary muscular contractions of the extremities, trunk, and head. See epilepsy.
Coryza – A cold. see catarrh.
Costiveness – Constipation.
Cramp colic – Appendicitis.
Crop sickness – Overextended stomach.
Croup – Any obstructive condition of the larynx (voice box) or trachea (windpipe), characterized by a hoarse, barking cough and difficult breathing occurring chiefly in infants and children. The obstruction could be caused by allergy, a foreign body, infection, or new growth (tumor). In the early 19th century it was called cynanche trachealis. The crouping noise was similar to the sound emitted by a chicken affected with the pip, which in some parts of Scotland was called roup; hence, probably, the term croup; Laryngitis, diphtheria, or strep throat; a childhood illness. Synonyms: roup, hives, choak, stuffing, rising of the lights.
Cyanosis – Dark skin color; blueness of skin caused by lack of oxygen in blood.
Cynanche – Diseases of throat.
Cystitis – Inflammation of the bladder.

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