In the late nineteenth century, where my time traveling hero in the romance novella, Thoroughly Modern Amanda, finds himself, medical care is a far cry from what we have today.
Early in the Victorian period the transmission of disease wasn’t fully understood. It was a patient’s inherited susceptibility, which we call the genetic component as well as the individual’s intemperance or lifestyle that caused a person to catch a disease. Another factor was the climate and location where one lived, sort of our version of environmental factors. They didn’t consider water or air-borne infections possible.
In 1848, symptoms of smallpox, scarlet fever and measles, were thought to be caussed by diseased parents, night air, sedentary habits, anger, wet feet or an abrupt changes of temperature. Fever was caused by injury, bad air, violent emotion, irregular bowels and extremes of heat and cold. Cholera was believed to be caused by rancid or putrid food, cold fruits such as cucumbers and melons, and passionate fear or rage.
The treatments of the period could be simply a change of air emetic and laxative purgation and bleeding by cup or leech–this traditional remedy was abandoned in mid-century. These remedies were thought to purge impurities from the body. Limited medications were employed, and the power of prayer was regularly invoked.
More seroius diseases of the early nineteenth century including pulmonary tuberculosis–commonly called consumption, and cholera, became epidemic. Infectious and respiratory causes predominated. Male death rates also included occupational injury and toxic substances, while women died as a result of childbirth or violence, but also suffered occupational diseased as they moved into the workforce in crowded factories.
For the full article on Victorian Era diseases, visit this site:
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