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Categories: THE SKIN
Sources: 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.