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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/388

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not, however, that these over-careful people catch cold from fear, but rather that their cowardice keeps them in-doors too much, or incites them to "muffling" themselves when they do go out—they quake from fear of "night-air," "draughts," and so cheat themselves of health-producing influences. Lacking active exercise and fresh air, or sweltering with an excess of clothing, they must suffer from indigestion. That is, though they may eat as much, or more, they can not digest as much as the fearless person who dresses light, pays no heed to the weather, spends considerable time out-doors every day, and, because of this, can not and will not remain in "stuffy" rooms.

The "fresh-air idiot" seldom takes cold. "That may be," says the timid, blood-poisoned, chilly man, "but he causes every one else to, with the open doors and windows." There is a grain of truth, if not of sense, in this assertion; for the pure air in contact with the skin, and in the lungs, of those who are most in need of it—who are filled up, so to say, with the impurities of indigestion and deficient depuration—the constipated air-haters—gives the needed stimulus, or, rather, so augments the vital powers that "the reconstructive process is initiated, and thus apparently the disease itself, but there is a wide difference between a proximate and an original cause. A man may be too tired to sleep and too weak to be sick. Bleeding, for the time being, may 'break up' an inflammatory disease—the system has to regain some little strength before it can resume the work of reconstruction. The vital energy of a person breathing the stagnant air of an unventilated stove-room is often inadequate to the task of undertaking a restorative process—though the respiratory organs, clogged with phlegm and all kinds of impurities, may be sadly in need of relief. But, during a sleigh-ride, or a few hours' sleep before a window left open by accident, the bracing influence of the fresh air revives the drooping vitality, and Nature avails herself of the chance to begin repairs—the lungs reveal their diseased condition, i. e., they proceed to rid themselves of the accumulated impurities.

"For," continues Oswald,[1] "rightly interpreted, the external symptoms of disease constitute a restorative process that can not be brought to a satisfactory issue till the cause of the evil is removed. So that, in fact, the air-hater confounds the cause of his recovery with the cause of his disease. Benjamin Franklin, "whose wisdom was of that rare kind which does not grow old," expressed his conviction of the fact that "the causes of 'colds' are totally independent of wet and even of cold."[2] Dr. Herring remarks of a family of friends, "They all invariably had 'colds in the head' the next day after dining on roast goose!"

    "I seldom catch cold, and, when I do, it gets away again right soon!" I am compelled to admit that all this is more profitable for patients than for the practitioner.

  1. "Physical Education," by F. L. Oswald, M. D.; New York, D. Appleton & Co.
  2. "Essays," p. 216.