Medical Suffixes for Diseases

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  • 0:02 Suffixes
  • 0:42 Disease Suffixes (-itis)
  • 1:18 -lepsy, -osis
  • 2:08 -pathy, -phobia
  • 3:29 -sclerosis
  • 4:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

This lesson covers the medical suffixes that are used when naming diseases. We will look at some examples of different diseases that use the various suffixes that we will be discussing.


The suffix of a medical term has the job of giving some type of action to the medical term. The suffix may tell what the subject of the term is doing, what the subject is having done to it, or who is doing something to the subject.

From there the suffixes can be categorized further based on the type of suffix it is. Suffixes tend to fit nicely into the categories of nouns, diseases, conditions, signs and symptoms, and procedures. You will notice that there is some overlap of suffixes, since some can fit into multiple categories. Let's get going with the suffixes that are used to describe diseases.

Disease Suffixes

The first suffix we are going to discuss can be used to describe a symptom, condition, or disease. The suffix -itis means 'inflammation of.' This suffix appears in the disease rheumatoid arthritis, which is an auto-immune disease that causes inflammation of the joints. Another example of a disease name that uses -itis is encephalitis, meaning 'inflammation of the brain.' In this instance, the suffix -itis is telling you one of the signs of the disease as well as the disease name.

Another suffix that is used to describe diseases is -lepsy. The suffix -lepsy means 'seizure or attack.' Epilepsy is likely a disease that you have heard of that uses the suffix -lepsy. Epilepsy is the term for a disease that causes seizures.

The next suffix can be used to describe any disease or condition. -Osis means 'disease process or condition.' Hematosis makes use of the suffix -osis and is a term meaning 'blood disease.' Lymphosis is medical term that describes a disease and uses the suffix -osis. This term means 'disease of the lymph.' This disease is also called lymphatic leukemia.

A suffix that is very similar in meaning to -osis is -pathy. -Pathy is a suffix meaning 'disease.' There are many diseases whose names include this suffix. A very common term in medical terminology is cardiomyopathy, meaning 'disease of the heart muscle.' A 'disease of the nerves' is indicated in the term neuropathy.

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