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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Old terms no longer used

Listed here are diagnosis's that were commonly seen by nurses during the 19th and 20th century that have since been replaced by more specific terms.

1. Catarrh: It was a generic term meaning inflammation of the respiratory tract that results in increased secretions, such as a runny nose. This term was commonly used in the 16th to mid 20th centuries. In some cases, it was used so generically that it could be used to descripe just about any disease process, as catarrh, or inflammation, is present in nearly every disease state in every organ. It was replaced with more specific terms such as hay fever, allergies, rhititis, influenza, bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, colds, etc.

2. Coryza: Catarrh of the nose. It was replaced by more specific terms such as allergies, rhinitis, colds, etc, but mainly rhinitis.

3. Dyspepsia: Upset stomach, bad digestion, indigestion. It was replaced due to the fact that it was simply a generic symptom. It means chronic or recurrent pain in the upper portion of the abdomen. It means feeling full or bloated. It may be accompanied by blotation, nausea, burping, heart burn, chest pain, etc.

4. Phthisis: This is an ancient term for tuberculosis of the lungs, and basically means wasting away. Phthisis was a generic term used to describe patietns who appeared to be wasting away. It has gone through many name changes, most notably consumption and then tuberculosis. Once tubercles were discovered in the lungs of phthisis patients, the name tuberculosis stuck.

5. Dropsy: Inflammation or swelling of tissue or organ. It's an abnormal accumulation of fluid in a tissue or organ. It has been replaced with terms like edema. For instance, in the old days someone with ankle edema would be diagnosed with dropsy.

6. Hydrops pulmonalis: Similar to dropsy, it's a generic term to describe an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the lungs. A more specific term replaced it: pulmonary edema.

7.  Asthma:  For most of history asthma was a generic term that covered shortness of breath, regardless of the cause, and mainly because the cause was not known). Yet beginning in the 18th century, as physicians started comparing symptoms observed with what was observed on autopsy, more was learned about pathophysiological processes.  As physicians learned about different diseases processes they were extricated from the rubric term asthma to become disease entities of their own with their own names and their own cures.  Examples include cardiac asthma, which we now refer to as heart failure, and kidney asthma, which we now refer to as kidney failure.  Other examples include emphysema and chronic bronchitis.   Actually, even phthisis, dropsy, and hydrops were once considered to be inside this rubric term.  Homer even used asthma to describe dyspnea from exertion and dyspnea from being stabbed in the chest.  

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1 comment:

Vanessa Smith said...

Hi - 'Catarrh' is still in common usage here in the UK where it is simply another word for 'mucus' - particularly among the general population, but doctors too will use it.