Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/306

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
302
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

It is easily to be comprehended how tuberculosis can become engrafted upon such an organism. The French government has grappled most nobly with the problem indicated in this state of affairs. It has established in various parts of France hospitals for tuberculous children, many of whom are no doubt only scrofulous. Several of these institutions are on the sea coast, at Berck-sur-Mer and at Hendaye; and the children are assured the benefit of the sea air, and of ozone, lots of sunshine, plenty of pure food-stuffs—bread, meats, milk and eggs; careful nursing; and excellent medical care of their 'white swellings' of the joints, tuberculous affections of bones, and of the many other conditions requiring the physician's attention. Thus, instead of early deaths, or of the prospect of growing up weaklings, many of these children are vouchsafed happy lives and strong constitutions, thereafter resistant to infection, and have inculcated in them habits of cleanliness and hygiene which they are sure to disseminate after their graduation. In this manner there are secured to the state many worthy and splendid citizens who would otherwise be lost to it. It is really a movement worth the consideration of the political economist.

Excessive alcholism stands in a causative relation to tuberculosis because of the resulting tissue impoverishment. The pulmonary type is almost invariably found in persons dying in the course of chronic alcholism. 'L'alcoolisme fait le lit de la tuberculose' states the physician, Landouzy.

It is difficult to explain the effects of alcohol. Like most of the simplest things in life, no definite agreement has ever been reached concerning its mode of working. It is evident, for instance, that there is no hardier stock than the wine-drinking countries; and it would seem that alcoholic fluids that are of good quality and purity, and are taken temperately, are conducive generally to health.

In all likelihood the bad effects fairly attributable to alcohol lie largely in the vicious quality of what is consumed, and in the state of affairs which it connotes: unsanitary habits, poverty, lack of nutrition or bad food, ill-ventilated living rooms; and, most of all, a condition of the organism exhausted by overwork, in which the reserve force is all that is left to carry on the struggle for existence. We may imagine a man in whom the tidal strength, such as we use in dealing with the ordinary affairs of life, is gone, and who has to depend upon his reserve strength to cope with an extraordinary difficulty which would overwhelm him, but for which, if we had to deal with it, our reserve strength would be altogether adequate. Such a man is in the condition of the camel to whom the last straw is fatal. So alcohol is oftentimes taken first with a view to keeping a defective organism up to the working point, perhaps in a tuberculous subject, or in one in whom all the conditions are receptive to tuberculosis; alcohol is then taken in