XVII. TUBERCULOSIS

Definition.--The definition, according to modern medical science, is an infectious disease caused by the bacillus tuberculosis. The lesions are characterized by nodular bodies, called tubercles. These tubercles undergo cheesy degeneration, sometimes a hardening or fibrous degeneration, and again they become limy. This is the ending in spontaneous recoveries.

 

Etiology.--The disease is universal. It is found in animals. Cattle are supposed to be afflicted with the disease a very great deal. Forty to forty-five years ago Koch declared that bovine tuberculosis was similar to human tuberculosis, and that man could contract tuberculosis from cattle. The last years of his life he recanted, but I think his followers persisted in advocating his first declaration in this matter. Those who wish to be thoroughly informed on this subject from a bacteriological standpoint should get special works on the subject. I recognize the disease as coming from perverted nutrition brought on from crowded digestion, in those who are predisposed to take the disease.

Such people are very imprudent. Young men and young women, at the time when they are enjoying the best of health, practice gross imprudence, such as dancing until very warm, then standing in a draft or sitting in a draft; also persisting in eating wrong combinations, overeating, and taxing the nervous system in every kind of way. Young men use tobacco, and abuse, the stomach by eating all kinds of trash between meals; in fact, it seems that young people who are predisposed to this disease are born with a lack of judgment. Self-abuse enters largely into the cause of this disease by breaking down digestive power, enervating the subject, and forcing indigestion, decomposition, and the generation of toxins in the intestine, which are absorbed and poison the system. Besides the causes that I have mentioned, there is no question but that vaccination, inoculation, and serum injections have much to do with starting up a glandular derangement. A morbid process set up by vaccination in just the right individual--one with a dyscrasia--may be the beginning of the development of tuberculosis. Infection in childhood may run on, and show itself, or its evil influence, at forty-five or fifty years, of age. Instead of the cause of disease being unitary, it is, decidedly multiple; and this is especially true in tuberculosis. No two persons will be broken down in exactly the same way. All, however, must have their resistance brought to a very low ebb before the disease will manifest itself.

 

The Beginning of TubercuIosis.--Indigestion, characterized by frequent symptoms of derangement of the stomach, brought on from overeating or imprudent eating. These patients will be troubled with cough. After they have gotten over one attack of indigestion, they have a period of comparative health. Then they will have another spell of indigestion, developing a similar derangement that may be diagnosed as bronchitis. The coughing may be quite persistent, but after running on for some time there may be a complete respite, the patient having quite good health; but there is always a little inclination for coughing and expectorating that will be recognized as perhaps a little bronchial irritation. At last there may be an attack of bronchitis, so-called. There will be a hacking cough with some temperature. The temperature may run up to 102 degrees in the morning or evening, but the temperature will not last twenty-four hours. However, it will return in the form of a periodic fever. Some cases may be treated for malaria. Particularly will this be true in malarial countries. In sections of the country where there is no malaria, the present day diagnosis will be an infection from streptococci.

Such cases will have fits of indigestion, perhaps sore throat, and it will be diagnosed streptococcus infection. The cough and expectoration becomes continuous, and a little fever will show every day-not much-perhaps less than one hundred, with an increase to 102 degrees. By this time the doctors will be diagnosing tuberculosis. They will begin the regulation treatment for that disease. The patient suffers psychologically from this diagnosis, He will be inclined to be despondent and hopeless, and will require a great deal of encouragement from family and friends. There are a few temperaments which will always be looking on the optimistic side-they expect to be cured, but they are not cured.

If the lungs are watched, there will be found a growing dullness in one or both lungs--perhaps only the left lung. This means an accumulation of phlegm in the bronchial tubes.

 

Treatment.--lf taken to be treated at this stage, an effort should be made to empty the lungs of the accumulation. This can be accomplished more or less by having the patient lie in a position that will allow the accumulation to gravitate to the throat. Every day the patient should get into that position, and he will soon learn from experience that he can unload his lungs or get a freer breathing because of being able to expectorate a great deal of the accumulation.

This will not benefit the patient at all unless a rigid dietary is introduced. That means cutting out the dairy products and the starch; living largely on raw fruit and raw vegetables. The proteins should be watched. If a small amount can be taken care of without an increase in the cough and expectoration, it can be continued. There is no need for experimenting with starch for it will increase cough and expectoration from the bronchial tubes. From this point on the patient should improve until completely recovered, if the rigid dietary is adhered to. Some cases, if taken at quite an advanced stage, can be relieved within a month, and a very great deal of the dullness in the lungs overcome.

Scrupulous cleanliness is, necessary. A sponge bath of a morning, after a certain amount of exercise, and a tub bath at least every other night. That means a hot water bath and it should be continued for twenty to thirty minutes. If the patient is a female, vaginal douches should be used every day--if the patient be a virgin or a married woman, the douche should be used just the same. There is sometimes prejudice against young women being treated in this manner, but it is due to ignorance.

It is not a good thing to have the patient kept too warm. Bed clothing should be just enough to keep the patient comfortable, with the addition of a foot warmer, and the foot warmer is not to be used continuously. It should be kept to one side of the foot of the bed and as soon as the feet begin to show a coolness, the warmer can be brought to the feet. The feet should not be against the foot warmer. In other words, keep the feet warm, but do not allow them to sweat from overheat.

The patient should be encouraged to read and even study. The mind must be kept off himself by being interested in something outside of himself.

This line of treatment ought to save every patient, and if this care is begun early in the beginning of the development of symptoms, few would ever get far enough along to have to go to bed. It is curable in its beginning, one hundred per cent. Tuberculosis is doctored to death.

If this treatment is adopted early, there will be no tubercular bacilli, hence those who believe that there is no tuberculosis except in cases where the bacilli are to be found, will not believe that the disease can be jugulated as I have described. If it is any gratification to the profession and the people to believe in the present diagnosis and treatment, it is up to them to enjoy it. Those who will follow me will not need to develop that kind of tuberculosis.