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Water and Drinking of

cisterns, intestinal, bacteria, body and action

WATER AND DRINKING OF WATER.—Sixty per cent., or more, of the weight of the human body is made up of water ; and this quantity must be maintained by a large daily consumption, in order to preserve good health. Drinking-water should be absolutely pure, or it may become a menace to health. Water from deep cisterns or from wells is better than water from lakes or rivers, because the latter becomes warm in summer, and tastes badly.

Water is often contaminated by human evacuations, and by drainage from dwellings, stables, factories, etc. Contaminations with disease-produc ing micro-organisms, or with the eggs of intestinal parasites (tapeworms, for instance) are of the greatest importance. Bacteria are found in water of every kind, chiefly in that of cisterns, lakes, and rivers. Although most of these bacteria are harmless, there are others that may cause severe diseases and epidemics. The most frequent of these pathogenic bacteria are the typhoid-bacillus (found chiefly in cisterns), the cholera-spirillum, and the bacterium of dysentery. Impure water should, therefore, be used neither for drinking nor for cleaning purposes. When typhoid or some similar disease is prevalent, the best safeguard is to drink only water which has been boiled. A few drops of lemon-juice added to such boiled water will counteract its flat taste. Owners of cisterns ought to have the water chemically examined at regular intervals.

Half a century ago the systematic drinking of spring-water was extensively used as a method of treatment. At the present time, this idea of water

as a " cure-all " has been discarded. Similar experiences of recent years (such as the Kneipp water-cure) have likewise vanished and been forgotten. Scientific water-treatment (hydrotherapeutics), however, still remains in use, and is bound to so remain, supported and developed by the medical fraternity.

The action of water is threefold : mechanical, chemical, and thermal. The mechanical action is due to the weight and volume of water, by which it distends the stomach, the intestine, the urinary bladder, and the gall bladder. This stimulates the muscular movements of these organs, and promotes the passage of their contents. Water also softens the intestinal contents, and aids in the movements of the bowels. Small stones in the gall-bladder, gravel or sand in the pelvis or the kidney, and hard faecal masses in the intestine, may be carried along mechanically by drinking large quan tities of water. The chemical action is due to the solution by water of certain injurious substances circulating in the body, as in gout and rheumatism. The excretion of uric acid is increased by the ingestion of large quantities of water at regular intervals. Cold water, either drunk or given in enemas, stimulates the intestinal canal, and furthers the evacuation of It also reduces the pulse, and lowers the temperature of the body. For this reason, persons suffering from fever may drink cold water to ad vantage.