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History Anatomy

iron, blood, disease, worms, treatment, condition and plant

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ANCHYLOSTOMIASIS.—Term denoting a special disease which was first observed in bricklayers and in workers in tunnels, but at present is found extensively in mines throughout the world, having been transported from place to place by infected miners. It is caused by a worm (anchy lostoma duodenale ; see Fig. 72) which settles on the mucous membrane of the small intestine, and lives on the blood it sucks. This results in a considerable degree of anaemia, which may be accompanied by bloody diarrlyea, respiratory difficulties, palpitation of the heart, dropsical swell ings, great weakness, etc. The disease is recognised by microscopical examination of the faces, in which the eggs of the worm may be found. Within recent years it has become apparent that this disease is very common in the southern United States ; and it has been found that a distinct species, Anchylostorna (Uncinaria) Americana, is responsible for the American disease.

Treatment consists of medicines (to be prescribed only by a physician) for killing the worms, and of purges and enemas. The chief prophylactic points to be observed are :—disinfection of the intestinal evacuations, pro vision of pure drinking-water, and the observance of scrupulous cleanliness on the part of the workmen. The diseases caused by tape, thread, and pin worms are described under separate paragraphs. It should be added that frequently, especially in the case of children, all sorts of complaints are ascribed to " worms " which often are due to different and more serious causes. Therefore, if more serious disturbances appear, it is wise to have the child examined by a physician. A microscopical examination of the faces should be made in every case called " worms." ANZEMIA.—Deficiency of haemoglobin or of red blood-corpuscles. Accord ing to the views of the laity, there is no complaint easier to recognise than an anaemic condition of the blood. Paleness of the skin is admitted to be an infallible sign of poor blood, and if a member of the family is stated to he suffering from this complaint, the question is almost universally asked, " shall not he or she, as the case may be, take iron ? " In the presence of such generally accepted knowledge, any further explanations would appear superfluous. For the layman argues that as the

pale condition of the skin which he sees and the various symptoms of which the patient complains are due to anamia, and that the impoverished state of the blood is caused by a lack of sufficient iron in the system, the only rational treatment by which all the disturbances may be allayed is to administer iron freely. Nevertheless, it is very easy to prove that these conclusions are superficial and erroneous, and that iron is not an infallible remedy for this affection. A gardener would certainly ridicule the notion that the fading and blanching of the leaves of a plant could be prevented by enriching the soil with iron. Everyone who is conversant with plant life knows that in producing this condition a great number of factors arc at work, among which may be included insufficient or over-abundant light, too much or too little heat or moisture, the composition of the soil, in whicl• of course the proper modicum of iron must be present, and finally, parasites, either resident on the plant or in the surrounding earth.

That iron alone does not meet all the indications with which it is cred ited, is evidenced by the fact that there is appearing a constantly increasing number of iron preparations, which are claimed to be more easily digested and therefore possessed of greater tonic properties ; and furthermore that in successful cures, important hygienic rules have been prescribed in addi tion to the iron medicine. Constant experience and careful observation must make it plain to all who are willing to learn that, particularly in these disorders of the blood, it is extremely essential that each individual case be submitted to the test of a medical examination, and that treatment be determined accordingly. For we are not merely concerned with giving an appropriate name to a disease based on its external characteristics, but we are required as a precautionary measure to determine the cause, the error in the conditions of life, which brings about these disturbances.

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