Sources: Papers On Health
This most insidious and deadly disease is
caused by a tiny vegetable growth derived from persons or animals
already suffering from tuberculosis. The spit of consumptive patients
swarms with such germs, and when it dries and becomes dust the germs
may be stirred up and breathed, or may mix with food, e.g., milk, and
so enter the body. A dried handkerchief may also carry the infection.
But these germs, though continually carried into the lungs of almost
all, do not develop in all. The healthy body can resist them, and it is
only in the body which possesses little resistance, owing to a low
state of health, that they take root, and so start the disease.
Want of pure air, such as is caused by badly ventilated rooms, dark,
damp, and dirty houses, want of good food, or bad food, alcoholic
drinks, frequent illnesses, dirty habits, are powerful causes in
producing this low state of health, which is so favourable to the
growth of the consumptive germ. Therefore we insist on fresh air,
especially for children in schools, for employees in factories, for
clerks in offices. All places of public resort should be provided with
proper ventilation. The breath from the lungs is loaded with poisonous
organic matter, and if continually re-breathed poisons the blood. The
smell of a room is often an indication of whether the air is pure or
not, especially in the nostrils of one entering from the outer air. Let
all windows be kept open day and night, and let fresh air and sunlight
continually flood the room. Nothing will kill disease germs quicker.
Avoid choosing a residence with but little open spaces around, such as
basement tenements and back to back houses. Have an open fireplace in
the room. Gas or oil for lighting, heating, or cooking renders the air
impure, and in need of constant renewal. See Air.
Dirt, either in the house or around, poisons the air, and refuse should
be removed to a distance from the dwelling. Tea leaves should be
sprinkled on floors before being swept. Remove dust with damp dusters,
which should be boiled. Cleanliness should be strictly attended to, and
schools and factories should be plentifully supplied with soap and
The food consumed by the vast majority of people is far from being as
nourishing as it should be. Tea and white bread have replaced porridge
and milk. This should not be. Cocoa might with advantage replace tea,
and porridge and milk by itself would make a highly nutritious meal
(see articles on Diet).
Stimulants are not required by the healthy body, and intemperance is a
fruitful predisposing cause of consumption. Skim milk is not a suitable
food for the young. See Infants' Food.
Infectious diseases, such as Typhoid and Scarlatina, are frequently
conveyed by cow's milk. There is also reason to believe that in certain
cases of Tuberculosis the infection has been conveyed by milk from
tuberculous cows. These risks can only be absolutely avoided by
sterilising the milk, i.e., by placing the jug in a pan of water and
bringing the water to the boil, keeping it so for twenty minutes. If
the milk is kept covered, and rapidly cooled by placing in another pan
of cold water, but little boiled taste will be felt. Sometimes,
however, sterilised milk disagrees with an infant; if so, the strictest
watch must be kept on the history of the milk used.
It should be remembered that this disease is not hereditary. It is only
the delicacy of constitution predisposing to the disease that is
inherited. This delicacy may, especially in childhood, be remedied. We
have known hundreds of tender children made strong by liberal daily
MASSAGE (see). In all cases where hereditary weakness is feared this
should be resorted to. In many cases nothing more is needed to banish
consumption out of families than the stimulation of the skin by this
massage. Wearing linen underwear (see Underwear) also assists in this
direction and prevents chills. As it is of prime importance to increase
the chest capacity, and this is most easily done in youth, great
attention should be paid to chest expanding exercises (see Appendix)
and deep breathing. The cultivation of singing will greatly help.