How Did Diseases Get Their Name

How Did Diseases Get Their Name?
Medical illnesses and diseases have a host of names that range from complicated tongue twisters with multiple syllables, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, to monosyllabic monikers like "the flu." But just where do those names come from, anyway?

"When a new disease is discovered or studied, it goes through a process where it is initially described by the primary symptoms or laboratory findings. For example "severe fever and thrombocytopenia syndrome" (SFTS), "SARS," etc.," says Amesh A. Adalja, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Adalja says those who initially describe the disease are free to call it what they like and see if it catches on. "Eventually, these names catch on and get incorporated into the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases. And thus a name is born."

However, sometimes diseases are named after a handful of other things. Read on to see what they are. amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Severe Fever Thrombocytopenia Syndrome, Amesh A. Adalja, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, International Classification of Diseases
Their occurrence
Influenza received its name due to the cyclical nature of outbreaks of the disease (today known as "flu season").  influenza, origin word influenza, influenza symptoms

People who focused on them
Many diseases aren't necessarily named after the person who first discovered them. Instead, they're named after those who brought attention to the disease.

Take Hodgkin's disease. While the first recorded description of this lymphatic disease was in 1666, the person it would ultimately be named for published his doctoral thesis about the illness in 1823 and another paper on it 1832, which led to the disease being named after him.

And Parkinson's disease. A "shaking palsy" was described by physicians as far back as A.D. 175. However, it was not until 1817 that a London doctor became the first physician to systematically describe the condition he witnessed. Some 60 years later, French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot was the first scientist to truly recognize the importance of his work and named the disease after him.

In the past 100 years or so, naming diseases after people has fallen out of favor because these types of disease names lack description.
A consensus
"Fibromyalgia was settled upon after names like 'nonarticular rheumatism' and 'fibrositis' failed to catch on," says Dale Peterson, M.D., author of "Building Health by Design: Adding Life to Your Years and Years to Your Life." (Shop for it.)

"ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was settled upon by committees after earlier names such as 'minimal brain dysfunction' fell out of favor." Go figure.
The appearance of the disease
Often diseases and health maladies have names with Greek or Latin origins that, when translated to English, indicate exactly what the disease looks like or the main symptom of the illness.

Peterson says some examples are erythema nodosum, which means "red bumps," and ichthyosis, or "fish skin."

"Sometimes calling a disease something simple like 'ringworm,' which is a rash with raised edges that can look like a worm under the skin, makes sense, because that's all the disease is," Peterson says. "It's much easier than dermatophytosis."
The first place they popped up
Lyme disease was first identified by Dr. Allen Steere in 1975 in Lyme, Conn. (map it). A few years later, Willy Burgdorfer, another scientist, isolated the origin of the disease in the gut of certain ticks commonly found on deer (photos).

Then there's Rocky Mountain spotted fever another tick-borne disease, first recognized in 1896 in the Snake River Valley of Idaho. It was originally called "black measles" because of the telltale rash.

The Ebola virus was named after the location where it was first discovered.
Their mechanism
References to diabetes can be found as far back as Old English medical texts from 1425. "Diabetes" is from the Greek word that means "to siphon," because it was thought people with this condition would siphon off bodily fluids through excess urination. Nearly 250 years later, physician Thomas Willis added "mellitus," which is Latin for "honey," to the disease's name, to describe the sweet quality of the urine of people with diabetes.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is acid that backs up (or refluxes) from the stomach (gastro) into the esophagus.

Bipolar disorder is a shifting of mood between the two, or bi, poles of mania and depression.
A person with the disease
Lou Gehrig's disease, formally as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is named for the famous New York Yankee baseball player who courageously fought a public battle with the fatal disease.

Christmas disease, another name for hemophilia, has nothing to do with the holiday. The first person found to have the disease was named Stephen Christmas. Ironically, the disease's discovery was first reported in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal.
Something that sounds simple
Disease names may be a short form of the formal name or an alternative to the medical name.
"'Lupus' is short for systemic lupus erythematosis," says Adalja. "'Shingles' is a common term for herpes zoster."
And fifth disease, a common childhood disease dating back to the 18th century that typically causes a red rash on the cheeks, got its name by being the fifth of the classical childhood skin rashes. They are:

1. Measles
2. Scarlet fever
3. Rubella
4. Duke's disease
5. Erythema infectiosum
6. Roseola

Source: health