Medicine and Treatment

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Epidemic

An infectious disease that spreads quickly through the population. This is never good news, but if the disease is a killer, it can have a terrible impact on the society.

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Regression

The opposite of progression. Regression is when things get worse not better.

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Monopoly

One organisation or person controls every aspect of a trade or profession.

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Reformation

When the Reformation happened in Britain, Henry VIII founded the Church of England, destroying monasteries and other Catholic institution in the process.

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The Black Death

A phrase used in the Middle Ages to describes bubonic plague. The 'backness' was caused by bleeding under the skin.

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Astrology

The study of the planets and how they might influence the lives of people.

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Bleeding

The practice of cutting a patient and draining away some blood. This might be done with a knife and a bleeding cup, or with leeches. Monastery records show that monks were bled regularly; the blood was often kept and used  as a fertiliser in the fields.

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Flagellants

People who beat themselves with a stick to punish themselves for their sins.

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Apothecary

A bit like today's pharmacists, they mixed medicine which had been prescribed by doctors. Even though they were not supposed to give medical advice, they often did.

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Quack

Another name for a healer with no training, who could make a lot of money selling remedies or charms.

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Physicians

Doctors of medicine who trained at university.

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Context

The set of facts or circumstances that surround a particular event.

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Rakers

People employed by the local authorities to keep the streets clean.

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Quarantine

Separating sick people from healthy people to prevent disease spreading.

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Scourge

A cause of disease or disaster.

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Vaccination

The name Jenner gave to his method. It comes from vacca, the Latin word for cow.

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Miasma

Bad air, or smells from rubbish and human waste rotting in the streets, which were thought to cause disease.

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Bacteria

Another word for micoorganisms or germs.

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Body snatcher

Someone who stole the bodies of dead criminals or dug up recently buried corpses to sell the bodies, or pieces of them, to eager medical students.

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Laissez-faire

Meaning 'leave it alone', a key part of the government's policy in the nineteenth century. The government felt it was not its job to interfere in people's day-to-day lives by providing medical care.

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Industrial Revolution

When British industry changed quickly and grew rapidly from 1750-1900.

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Privy

A toilet located in a small shed outside a house.

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Cholera

A water-borne disease that brings on extreme sickness and diarrhoea. Sufferers die quickly from dehydration.

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Magic bullets

Chemical drugs which only killed the disease without affecting the person.

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DNA

DNA is like a long list of instructions which, grouped together into genes, decide things like what colour your eyes will be, or whether you will develop a disease.

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Provenance

Provenance is who wrote or created the source, when, and for what purpose. This can have a big impact on what the sources tells us. For example, a medical textbook written before the first successful blood transfusion might tell a different story to a newspaper article written during the First World War.

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Transfusion

A transfer of blood from one person or animal to another. Successful transfusions can only take place between two humans of the same blood type.

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