The right kind of living will, in nearly all persons, make the body able to kill any germs of tuberculosis that enter. The living and working rooms must be well ventilated. A window in the bedroom should be opened a foot both at the top and bottom in winter, and twice as much when the weather is not cold. Good food, including plenty of milk and eggs should be taken. Exercise, especially such as calls into action the chest muscles and fills the lungs with air, ought to be indulged in a half hour or more daily, with additional walks or games in the open air. Twelve-year old children should not have less than nine hours of sound sleep daily. Those who follow these rules of life will not suffer from tuberculosis. Three fourths of the half million persons with the disease in this country have been overworked, underfed, or lived in poorly ventilated rooms, with the sunshine shut out.
Fig. 148. One way of strengthening the germ-killing power of the blood to fight off tuberculosis.
A pain in the chest, a hacking cough, especially in the morning, rusty or blood-streaked sputum, loss in weight, and weariness and fever-ishness in the afternoon, are strong evidences of tuberculosis if they continue several weeks. A physician should be consulted.
Long experience has shown that no patent medicine or other preparation advertised in the papers with the exception of codliver-oil compounds, is of any use whatever for the consumptive. Some may seem to help for a time, because of the alcohol or other tonic they contain, but the help is only temporary. Many of them hasten the progress of the disease. The use of beer or whisky or any other alcoholic drink advertised to cure consumption, only makes it worse, because the alcohol has been shown to weaken the germ-killing power of the blood.
Fig. 149. Why open spittoons should not be used by a consumptive, or anyone else.
The one treatment which has been tried by over one hundred thousand patients and found most successful, is living a hygienic life to increase the germ-killing power of the blood. Keeping in the fresh air day and night, drinking daily a half gallon or more of rich milk and swallowing a half dozen raw eggs, in addition to eating three nourishing meals daily, and exercising according to strength, have cured fifty-five per cent of the tubercular patients taking treatment in the early stages of the disease. The physician's directions must be carefully followed in every particular.
If proper care is taken, there is but little danger of catching consumption from living in the same house with a patient. No germs are given off in ordinary breathing. In coughing, a cloth to be later burned, should be held before the mouth. The sputum must be received into a shaving mug half filled with lye and scalded out daily, or into a paraffined paper cup with a cover to keep out the flies. The cup should be burned at the end of the day. More than ten million germs are known to be given off daily by some patients. The eating and drinking utensils must be placed in boiling water immediately after being used by the patient.
Where it is possible, a consumptive should go to a sanatorium or hospital. These are homes with doctors and nurses who thoroughly understand how to treat the sick to get the best results. Some of these homes receive poor persons free of charge.
Before the year 1798, when Jenner showed the use of vaccination, smallpox was the worst of human ills. Scarcely any one lived beyond the age of thirty years without being attacked by the disease. One in every seven who suffered from it died, while many others were made deaf or blind.
In 1721 more than half of the inhabitants of Boston had smallpox, and a few years later 18,000 of the 50,000 residents of Greenland died of the malady. It killed 60,000,000 inhabitants of Europe in the eighteenth century.
To-day smallpox is a rare disease, because vaccination properly performed absolutely prevents it. In Germany, where the law compels every person to be vaccinated twice, the deaths from smallpox are only one twentieth as great in proportion to the population, as they are in the United States. Hundreds of people die yearly in our country from smallpox, because they neglect vaccination. Everyone, unless in ill health, should be vaccinated in infancy and again ten or twelve years later or oftener, if near a case of smallpox.
Fig. 150. Edward Jenner who has saved thousands of lives by showing us how to prevent smallpox.
There is no danger of giving to one any disease by vaccination when the process is properly done, as the vaccine is now taken from healthy calves. If a clean instrument is used on a clean arm, with clean clothing, much of the soreness and inflammation may be avoided.
Other means of preventing some diseases or curing them are by using antitoxins, secured from the blood of domestic animals, treated in a special way. A puncture of the flesh by a dirty nail, or the common Fourth of July accidents in which powder is blown beneath the skin should receive the attention of a physician, who may use antitoxin to prevent lockjaw.
Diptheria antitoxin used in the early stages of the disease of diphtheria is a sure cure in nearly all cases. It saves yearly the lives of 45,000 children in Germany, and the lives of more than ten thousand persons in the United States.
If all persons obeyed strictly the teachings of this book for healthful living, there would be much less need of antitoxins and other drugs. Instead of the 5,000,000 homes now saddened yearly by sickness, the number might be decreased one half. It is better to prevent sickness than to try to cure it after it has come through our own carelessness.
Every boy and girl can be a life saver, and show true patriotism by having the courage to live a healthful life and help others to do the same.
1. What helps us keep well? 2. What are the three ways of fighting the germ diseases? 3. Name a sure way of preventing your germs from harming others. 4. What is a disinfectant? 5. Name two disinfectants. 6. What causes so much typhoid fever? 7. How could we get rid of all germ diseases? 8. Describe caring for the sick. 9. Why should you wash your hands after touching a sick person or his clothing? 10. How should clothing and dishes used about the sick be treated? 11. What is the duty of the board of health? 12. Give five ways of keeping the germs out of the body. 13. Why should all ponds containing mosquitoes be drained? 14. Why are fleas and bugs to be feared? 15. Why is it difficult to keep some germs out of the body? 16. What is filtration? 17. Show how filtering water saves lives. 18. Why do many germs entering the body cause no harm sometimes? 19. Explain how alcohol is the foe of health. 20. How may the body become safe from some diseases? 21. Tell how tuberculosis may be avoided. 22. What helps cure tuberculosis? 23. How may the danger from a consumptive be avoided? 24. What was the result of smallpox before the time of vaccination? 25. Why is there less smallpox in Germany than in our country? 26. Name two diseases in which antitoxin is used. 27. How many lives saved yearly in Germany by the use of antitoxin? 28. How many times have you been sick in your life? 29. How would the knowledge in this book have helped you prevent any of your sickness?
In connection with this chapter, the teacher may direct some valuable lessons in nature study. The life history of fleas, mosquitoes and flies should be studied. All information needed may be found in pamphlets issued free by the United States Department of Agriculture or secured from any recent elementary textbook on zoology. It is important that every one should have a practical knowledge of these three kinds of insects which are responsible for transmitting diseases afflicting more than 1,000,000 persons annually in the United States and its possessions.
From May until November, the eggs and the two young stages of the mosquito may be found in pools of water or even in pails or tubs left standing a week or two out of doors. In malaria and yellow fever districts, special attention should be given to the means of destroying the young mosquitoes. The children may be asked to report in how many places they find mosquitoes breeding. Some communities have spent thousands of dollars yearly in cleaning out the breeding places of mosquitoes.
The boys may be asked to find out where the young of flies called maggots live in their neighborhood. These pests may be found in horse manure, uncovered garbage cans and other kinds of decaying matter. Let the pupils suggest means of getting rid of flies when they have learned that they can breed only in waste matter.
The care of the teeth, the chewing of food and the use of cold baths and fresh air in making strong bodies should be emphasized. A health talk by a physician to the entire school is always helpful and a great aid in impressing upon the pupils the value of a sound body.