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Source: Papers On Health

The pleura is the tender double web, or membrane, which
lines the inside of the chest on the one side and covers the lung, or
rather encloses the lung with its other fold. Each of the two lungs has
its pleura in which it works, and each side of the chest is lined by
one side of this sensitive organ. The slender lining passes round the
greater part of one whole side of the body with one-fold, and round the
whole of the lung with the other. Let us suppose (which often takes
place) that the front of the body is defended with what is called a
"chest protector," but the sides and back are exposed to a chilling
atmosphere. Part of the pleura, and that part which is farthest from
the surface, is sheltered, but the greater part of it, and that nearest
the surface, has no such protection. In the case especially of women
this is the state of things. It seems as if people thought that they
only need to keep a few inches of the breast warm--that is keeping the
chest all right--though the sides just under the arms, and the back
under the shoulder-blades, are of far greater importance. The throat is
even muffled, and a "respirator" worn, so that fresh air is not allowed
to get inside the lungs, while the pleura is exposed to chill at the
back. The consequence of this is that vital action is so abstracted
from the pleura that the tension of its small vessels is relaxed, and
blood is admitted as it is not intended it should be.

Severe pain is felt on one or both sides, and round under the
shoulder-blade. A painful cough arises, and great fever is produced. In
such a case the treatment is on the same principle as that given in
Lungs, Inflammation of the, which should be read. The inflamed part
must be cooled by applying towels well wrung out of cold water round
the side, applying a fresh one when that on the part becomes warm. If
the pain does not leave in half-an-hour of this treatment, or if the
patient be weak to begin with, or if any chilliness is felt, pack the
feet and legs in a large hot fomentation. The cooling of the side may
then go on safely until a curative effect is produced. We may not be
able to give the theory of action of this treatment, but we know that
in many cases it has perfectly and very speedily been successful, and
that it leaves no bad results, as blistering and drugging are apt to
do. We know of one case in which it took twenty-four hours' constant
treatment to effect a cure. But it did effect it. Two friends took
"shifts," and saw that all was thoroughly done. This will give an idea
of the proper way to go about the matter.

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