Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Doctor's Report for January-February 1815

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Loretta reports:
AN account of the practice of a physician from the 15th of January to the 15th February, 1815.
Peripneumony, 3 ... Pleurisy, 2 ... Catarrh, 10 ... Sore-throat, 4 ... Fever, 3 ... Rheumatism, 8 ... Head-ach, 2 ... Palsy, 2 ... Mania, 1 ... Hysteria, 1 ... Asthenia, 6 ... Asthma, 2 ... Cough and dyspnœa, 18 ... Consumption, 5 ... Measles, 3 ... Small-pox, 1 ... Dyspepsia, 4 ... Diarrhœa, 5 ... Gastrodynia, 2 ... Jaundice, 1 ... Dropsy, 3 ... Palpitation, 1 ... Ischuria, l ... Leucorrhœa, 2 ... Menorrhœa, 3 ... Cutaneous affections, 5 ... Diseases of infants, 8.

Although during the recent mild weather pulmonic disease has abated, some severe cases have occurred. In a case of obstinate and long-continued head-ach, unconnected with disorder of the primæ viæ, cupping afforded great relief. This affection, however, often depends upon the state of the stomach, and is much influenced by the biliary secretion. By attending to the functions of the liver and stomach, and inducing a healthy action in these organs, the pain in the head frequently ceases. But it occasionally depends on too great a determination of blood to the head, or an impeded circulation, or an altered state of the brain; and is even sometimes much influenced by the greater or less density of the atmosphere. Of all these causes, the most difficult to remove is the altered condition of the brain itself, of which as an organic substance, notwithstanding the researches of anatomists and the discoveries of physiologists, we yet know very little. So intimate is the connection between the mind and the brain, that what affects the one influences the other ; there is constant action and reaction. Intense thinking will occasion head-ach, and a slight pressure on the brain, as is often witnessed in accidents, as well as an increased flow of blood to the head, will destroy the power of thinking, in fact annihilate every faculty of the mind . . . Were it possible to obtain more frequent dissections of the organ, with accurate histories of the cases, much more light would be thrown on the mental aberrations, as well as the disorders of the brain, which at present are involved in considerable obscurity.
Rudolph Ackermann, The Repository of arts, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions and politics, 1815.


Anonymous said...

Don't know what about half of these maladies are, and I'm not sure I want to know. Thanks for reminding us that we're fortunate to live now. Leeches, anyone?

Richard Foster said...

"the altered condition of the brain itself, of which as an organic substance, notwithstanding the researches of anatomists and the discoveries of physiologists, we yet know very little."
Interesting how two centuries later, and this is still the case.

LorettaChase said...

Richard, that's what struck me about this entry—that and his apt observations about the kinds of things that can set off headaches, which any migraine sufferer will recognize. Anonymous, curiously enough, leeches have been back in use—though I do think they'd have to sedate me first!

Sandy said...

I've just discovered your blog here, Loretta, and I love it! So many interesting articles that I'll have to go back and read.
I do suffer from migraines, and boy, that cartoon is right on the money. Little devils with hammers and pokers is exactly what it feels like. I totally relate. Where's it from?

LorettaChase said...

Sandy, the illustration is by George Cruikshank. So far, I've come upon three illustrations of ailments: headache, gout, and indigestion. This makes me think he might have done a series or illustrated a book. The thing is, he illustrated so very many books! Maybe one of our readers will enlighten us regarding the source. I found the print on Wikimedia. Library of Congress has a collection of his works as well. And University of VA.

Emma J said...

I wonder what the specific "Diseases of Infants" might be, since almost everything else in that dreadful list could also afflict a child. Probably better not to know. {{shuddering}}

Auron Renius said...

Maggots are also back in favor with the modern day medical community, but Opium was (and its derivatives still are) the main wonder drug to deal with pain. It was also used to help infants sleep, so I guess some lessons have been learned.

There was an error in this gadget
Two Nerdy History Girls. Design by Pocket