Epidemiology : History on Thomas Sydenham

Last Updated: 11 Jul 2021
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Background of Thomas Sydenham (Father of Clinical Observation)

Name: Thomas Sydenham

Date of Birth: 10 December 1624

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Place of Birth: Wynford Eagle


  • Commenced the study of medicine at Magdalene Hall, Oxford in 1642.
  • After 2 months interrupted his studies to participate in the civil war on the parliamentary side He returned to the university in 1645 to enter Wadham College to become a physician
  • Received his Bachelor of Medicine in 1648
  • Studied with Christopher Wren about natural scientists conducting physiological experiment at Oxford Achievement: Become a “Captain Sydenham” at the first civil war in 1654
  • Married with Mary Gee (1654)
  • Nominated to Parliament in 1659 (but not elected)
  • Become a licentiate of the Royal College of Physician
  • Received a doctorate from Pembroke College, Cambridge (1676)

Year of Death: 1689

Cause of death: Gout and Renal disease (left three sons: William (also a physician), Henry and James)

Contribution of Thomas Sydenham to the Medic World

It was in London in the middle of the 1650’s Thomas Sydenham began his exacting studies of epidemics. There was much contribution that has been made by him during his studies about epidemics.

The contribution that he had been made was:

  • Form the basic book on fever on 1666
  • Observationes Medicae a standard textbook for two centuries on 1676
  • Presented the theory of an epidemic constitution, Eg. Conditions in the environment which cause the occurrence of acute diseases (1683)
  • He noted the link between fleas and typhus fever
  • Introduced opium into medical practice and was the first to use iron-deficiency anaemia
  • Treatment fever with fresh air and cooling drink was an improvement on the sweating methods previously employed
  • Moderate treatment of smallpox by using cinchona “Sydenham’s chorea” aka. St Vitus Dance
  • Differentiation between gout and rheumatism, scarlet fever and measles, malaria and other fever, and chorea and St Vitus Dance
  • Write a description about dysentery, pneumonia, mental disease, tuberculosis, influenza, trigeminal neuralgia, croup and syphilis.

There are some of observation that was a Thomas Sydenham’s contribution has been revolutionized by medical practice in 17th century there are:

  • Discovery of circulation by Harvey
  • A philosophy of science by Bacon Disease by Ramazzini
  • Microscopic revelation by Malpighi and Leewnhoek
  • Philosophy, concept, theory and any thought by Thomas Sydenham
  • One of the famous Thomas Sydenham’s theories is Sydenham’s chorea and also known as St. Vitus Dance. Discovery by him on 17th century. Sydenham’s chorea


The disease that characterized by rapid or uncoordinated jerking movement affecting primarily the face, feet and hand.


  • Cerebra vascular accidents
  • Collegen vascular disease
  • Drugs intoxication
  • Hyperthyroidism Wilson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Infectious disease Treatment:
  • Penicillin
  • Behavioral and emotional changes may precede the movement disorders
  • Haloperidol, pimozide, clonidine
  • Treatment with steroids

One of famous philosophy by Thomas Sydenham: “A disease, however much its causes may be adverse to the human body, is nothing more than an effort of Nature, who strives with might and main to restore the health of the patient by the elimination of the morbid humor”

Cite this Page

Epidemiology : History on Thomas Sydenham. (2018, Sep 10). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/epidemiology-history-on-thomas-sydenham/

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