Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/389

This page has been validated.
375
CATCHING COLD.

"The immediate effects of a displacement of blood from the surface, and its determination to the internal organs, are not," says the "Lancet," "as was once supposed, sufficient to produce the sort of congestion that issues in inflammations. If it were so, an inflammatory condition would be the common characteristic of our bodily state. When the vascular system is healthy, and that part of the nervous apparatus by which the caliber of the vessels is controlled performs its proper functions normally, any disturbance of equilibrium in the circulatory system which may have been produced by external cold will be quickly adjusted. Most of the sensations of cold or heat," continues the "Lancet," "which are experienced by the hypersensitive have no external cause." They have, however, an internal cause which I have endeavored to point out and account for, as well as indicate the natural remedy. A "chilly" person is a sick person, and is in a state predisposing him to an "attack"—a natural kill-or-cure sickness—whenever external conditions are favorable. But no amount of transient cold, or wet, or draughts, can alone originate the symptoms of "a cold"; the predisposing cause must of necessity exist, or the effects will be of a wholly different character: temporary discomfort—suffering, perhaps—and, at the worst (if the exposure be of a severe nature, as in the case of a feeble person), a lowering of the general health. Short of the point of freezing to death, or of exposure so severe as to render reaction impossible, the person will get cold and—get warm again, that is all.

There is a maxim worthy of all acceptation: "If you stuff a cold you will have to starve a fever." Unfortunately abbreviated to "stuff a cold and starve a fever," and utterly misinterpreted, a deal of mischief has been done, for which the only compensation evident to my mind is this: those who have accepted the first division of the command have gorged themselves conscientiously! They have taken allopathic doses of a homœopathic remedy—similia similibus curantur—with a vengeance! But when the incipient fever became well established did these superobedient children of Nature obey the second injunction? No, and with good reason, apparently—the first prescription proving a failure (?), they did not dare to try the second! Now and then, however, it has been tried, either because of the courage or exceptional intelligence on the part of the patient or his physician, and with uniform good results. Where the "fasting-cure" is applied in extenso, with appropriate water and air baths, sunshine, and perfect ventilation, the worst forms of fever rarely have a "run" of ten days—three or four days will often suffice to insure convalescence; whereas, under the milk-and-brandy, beef-tea, and tonic treatment, and "eating little and often," the flames are fed until the patients are burned to skeletons, and a large percentage fatally.

I think I should be justified, in the estimation of most people, in saying that mankind are by nature, or at least from custom, if not