Cause of disease


Insufficient Exercise–He who does not spend several hours everyday in some active exercise, must inevitably suffer from a diminution of bodily strength, defect of appetite, and imperfect digestion, and becomes sooner or later the subject of disease.

Late rising and late retiring–There are few things which contribute more to shorten life, than the habit of keeping late hours, and consequently of rising from bed late in the morning. The advances of weakness and disease from this cause are, it is true, by very gradual steps, but not the less certain to be ultimately felt.

Breathing impure air–A constant supply of fresh air is highly important. The air is rendered impure by being loaded with animal and vegetable exhalations, by its free circulation being prevented by a number of persons breathing it when confined in a close chamber, and by the processes of fermentation and combustion.

Insufficient ablutions of the body–It is not enough for the preservation of health, that merely the hands, the feet, and the face be washed frequently, but that the whole surface of the body be repeatedly purified. To all, the frequent use of the bath is an important means of preserving health. Means for bathing should be afforded in every city, and in every extensive manufactory.

Inattention to the cleanliness of clothing and dwellings–Independently of the injury which the health of individuals suffers from a neglect of strict personal and domestic cleanliness, the contamination of the air, from the decomposition of filth accumulated in and about a dwelling, has not unfrequently communicated disease to whole families and neighbourhoods. Repeatedly white-washing the wall of a house, and scrubbing the floors, is not merely, therefore, a source of tasteful comfort, but a direct means of preserving health.

Food rendered pernicious by modern cookery;–Adulteration in foods and drinks, and abuse of appetite.–While a moderate quantity of plain wholesome food is essential to the maintenance of life, all excess in its use, all complicated processes of cookery–keeping up the appetite beyond the wants of the system–are decidedly injurious. The health and strength of the body are not supported by the quantity of food consumed, but only by so much as is capable of being converted, by the powers of the stomach, into pure chyle and blood.

The unnecessary or imprudent use of medicine–Domestic quackery has ruined many constitutions. A dose of medicine laken with the view of preventing an attack of disease, not unfrequently invites one which otherwise would not have occurred.

Defective and improper clothing.Injury to health may be caused either by the clothes being inadequate to defend the wearer from the cold, or from sudden changes in the weather, by their impeding the free motions of the limbs, or by their compressing or binding too firmly some part of the body.

The influence of cold.Disease is produced by exposure to the night air or inclement weather, after being heated in crowded apartments, or by exercise, as dancing, &c. In the poorer and impoverished classes, cold, during winter, is a continued and fruitful source of suffering and disease.

Intense application of the mind–Alternate rest and activity, as well of the body as of the mind, are essential to the support of health. Long continued mental application, whether to study or the cares of business, wears out the system, and exhausts the powers of life even more rapidly than protracted manual labour.

Giving way to the passions–Experience fully proves that nothing contributes more effectually to guard the system from disease, and to prolong lite, than a calm and contented state of mind. In cultivating a peaceful and virtuous disposition, a man not only insures his happiness but promotes his health also.

Heart-Burn, Acidity of Stomach, Water Brash-These arc some of the symptoms of indigestion. Ascertain whether the stomach does not suffer most in this way, after eating particular items of animal food, such as dried and salted meats and fish; and vegetables, such as salads, radishes, tomatoes, cabbage, and even potatoes. If no fault is found from these causes, let the inquiry next be made into drinks, and whether the accidental omission of a favourite beverage has not given relief. Has fresh bread or hot toast been habitually used with plenty of butler? and if so, has stale bread ever been substituted in its place? Is the complainer a smoker or user of tobacco in any way? If so, he ought to abandon entirely the use of this weed. Disturbed state of digestion coming on during the regular and moderate use of proper food, the next question is, does the skin perform its duty? Is it properly covered with clothes? are the feet kept dry and warm? are the pores kept free by regular ablution and friction?

Indigestion or Dyspepsia, which includes the forementioned disorders, and numerous others, as well of the stomach as of the heart, is shown by irregular palpitation; of the lungs, by asthmatic breathing; of the brain, by head-ache, ill-nature, and strange fantasies. Here the dyspeptic must ask of him or herself the same questions as in the preceding paragraph, with the additional ones respecting regular daily exercise in the open air, regular hours of sleep, early to bed and early to rise, mastery of the passions, and an especial avoidance of anxious cares, envy, or jealousy.

Bilious disorders–If a person is bilious, it is generally owing to errors in regimen. Let these be reformed, and the complaints will cease. But if a person would be always bilious, let him be often taking calomel, or blue pill, or active purges. Lee’s antibilious, &c., and he will certainly succeed; the soundest liver will not be proof against such remedies for bile.

Costiveness–Accidental or occasional costiveness may readily be rendered habitual by oft swallowing purgative medicines; the proposed cure will, when persisted in, inevitably bring on the disease. If this latter, by time or imprudence, has become habitual, the only safe and effectual mode of relief will be in a suitable regimen; still trying to get the proper food–mild mucilaginous and saccharine substances of the vegetable, and plain, not too much cocked, meats, among the animal kingdom. Add to this, suitable ablution, frictions of the skin, and out-door exercise and labour, and the cure will be complete.

Wakefulnes–The cure for this is not in laudanum and opium, which, much used, constitutes a habit as pernicious to health and morals as drinking ardent spirits. If something must be swallowed before going to bed, to procure sleep, let it he half a pint of hot water: mind! as hot as it can be sipped. But the true cure will be by omitting tea or coffee, whichever has been used, in the evening; by taking plenty of exercise in the open air; working at something to produce a little fatigue; and finally, rising early in the morning, whether inclined to do so or not. Be up by times; sleep not during the day; and retiring in good time to bed, there is no danger but you will sleep soundly during the night.

Nervousness, low spirits, sick head-ache-The causes are, bad habits, false indulgences. Leave them off, and the cure will be complete. Neglect this advice, and you may be physicked until you are a shadow, and your pockets empty, and you will still be, if a female, hysterical; if a male subject, hypochondriacal–miserable yourself, and the cause of misery to others.

Source : American Pocket Library of Useful Knowledge (1841)  by Thomas Curtis Clarke

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