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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/383

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369
CATCHING COLD.

attributed to the influence of an "influenza-wave"; but this theory seems to me utterly untenable, else a still larger proportion would be thus affected, and the disease would, in general, be confined to such periods; whereas very many escape at such times, only, alas! to fall victims to the disorder during the finest season of the year, when the weather is the mildest and most charming and the temperature most uniform. Indeed, some of the severest "attacks" are observed at such times, and the disease is far more prevalent during a season of steady hot weather in summer than during a period of steady cold weather in winter! But it is during a warm spell in midwinter, after the world has for quite a period of intense cold been confined within-doors, that "everybody has a cold"!

4. While the disease under consideration is no respecter of persons, but is as universal as the dietetic habits of the people are uniform, there is one class, viz., vegetarians, who are very much less subject to it, often passing the entire year without an attack, or, if attacked, are less seriously affected, and recover more speedily than others about them. Individuals, indeed, there are, living still more abstemiously, and paying proper regard to the ventilation of their dwellings, who never have a cold, though half the town may be sick with the disease: the "wave" never touches even the hem of their garments.

5. Members of this class, however, upon resuming their former practices as to diet, returning to the "mixed" diet and three meals a day, also resume the habit of "catching cold"; indeed, a visit of a few weeks, in a family of "good livers," especially if the latter are "air-haters" also, will often produce an attack.

Personally, though a life-long sufferer from the disease in various forms, from the "snuffles" of infancy to the "hay-fever" of adult age, together with occasional attacks of neuralgia, rheumatism, throat and lung affections, etc., I now find it impossible to excite any of the "well-known symptoms," or, in fact, any form of disease, though subjecting myself to what many would consider the most suicidal practices in the matter of exposure to the elements, so long as I live upon a frugal diet, chiefly cereals and fruit, served plainly—nominally two meals a day; holding myself ready, however, to "skip" a meal when necessary, i. e., whenever any of the symptoms of indigestion, as acid stomach, flatulence, pressure in the region of the lungs or stomach, etc., warn me of having carried the pleasures of the table a trifle beyond the needs of the organism.

I have, in my efforts to "catch" cold, submitted myself to exposures that to the minds of most people would appear of a suicidal character, wearing low shoes and walking in snow and slop until both socks and shoes were saturated, sitting an hour in that condition and going to bed without warming my feet; removing flannel under-garments in midwinter on the approach of colder weather, and attending to out-door affairs without the overcoat habitually worn; sleeping with