Definition of Consumption

Consumption: An old and once common term for wasting away of the body, particularly from pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). Other old TB terms include the King's evil or scrofula (TB of the lymph nodes in the neck) and Pott's disease (TB of the spine).

The World Health Organization (WHO) in "L'histoire de la tuberculose" notes that: "In 460 BC Hippocrates identified phtisis (the Greek word meaning "consumption") as the most widespread disease of his day and observed that it was almost always fatal. Someone who had tuberculosis seemed literally to be consumed by the disease. That is why they used to speak of 'consumption'" (my translation).


Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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