Diseases and their names

Alzheimer’s disease, Cron’s disease, Down’s syndrome etc. These are the common names we often hear now and then. While most diseases tend to be given descriptive names – for example, polycystic renal disease, which is an illness affecting the kidneys (renal, from the Latin word for kidney, renes) caused by the growth of multiple (poly, a Greek combining form meaning “much, many”) cysts – some have been named after the doctor, or doctors, who first described them.


AFP photo/London Science Musuem



Although there has been some controversy over whether this naming convention should be maintained – oftentimes there are doubts over whether the named doctor is indeed the original discoverer of the disease, and unlike descriptive names, eponyms really say nothing at all about the disease – there are still quite a few diseases that are known by someone’s name.



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