Once called grippe,
now generally referred to as influenza, this viral disease gives you symptoms you wouldn't wish on your worst foe: sudden fever, chills, cough, all-over pain, and a weakness that may last for days or weeks (if you survive).
Grippe often caused a tightening sensation in sufferers' throats, which may have contributed to the naming of the affliction (from the French in the 17th century). The flu has been known by several other names that have now fallen out of common usage, including catarrh and the sweat, or sweating sickness.
From Upton Sinclair's The Jungle:
There came pneumonia and grippe, stalking among them, seeking for weakened constitutions; there was the annual harvest of those whom tuberculosis had been dragging down.
And in War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy:
Anna Pavlovna had had a cough for some days. She was, as she said, suffering from la grippe; grippe being then a new word in St. Petersburg, used only by the elite.