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Category: THE SKIN
Source: A Handbook Of Health
Its Cause and Prevention. The other great disease of the lungs is
pneumonia, formerly known as inflammation of the lungs. This is rapid
and sudden, instead of slow and chronic like tuberculosis, but kills
almost as many people; and unfortunately, unlike tuberculosis, is not
decreasing. In fact in some of our large cities, it is rapidly
increasing. Although we know it is due to a germ, we don't yet know
exactly how that germ is conveyed from one victim to another. One thing,
however, of great practical importance we do know, and that is that
pneumonia is a disease of overcrowding and foul air, like tuberculosis;
that it occurs most frequently at that time of the year--late winter and
early spring--when people have been longest crowded together in houses
and tenements; and that it falls most severely upon those who are
weakened by overcrowding, under-feeding, or the excessive use of
alcohol. How strikingly this is true may be seen from the fact that,
while the death-rate of the disease among the rich and those in
comfortable circumstances, who are well-fed and live in good houses, is
only about five per cent,--that is, one in twenty,--among the poor,
especially in the crowded districts of our large cities, the death-rate
rises to twenty per cent, or one in five; while among the tramp and
roustabout classes, who have used alcohol freely, and among chronic
alcoholics, it reaches forty per cent. The same steps should be taken to
prevent its spread as in tuberculosis--destroying the sputum, keeping
the patient by himself, and thoroughly ventilating and airing all rooms.
As the disease runs a very rapid course, usually lasting only from one
to three weeks, this is a comparatively easy thing to do.
Though pneumonia is commonly believed to be due to exposure to cold or
wet, like colds, it has very little to do with these. You will not catch
pneumonia after breaking through the ice or getting lost in the snow,
unless you already have the germs of the disease in your mouth and
throat, and your constitution has already been run down by bad air,
under-feeding, overwork, or dissipation. Arctic explorers, for instance,
never catch pneumonia in the Frozen North.
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