Mr. Gallaher— After what has been written by the ablest medical men of this country and Europe, it may be deemed imparticent in me thus to obtrude myself upon the attention of the public. The only apology I can offer, is the panic that afflicts our neighborhood on the approach of this disease. I might add, that public confidence seems to be partly withdrawn from the precautionary measures heretofore recommended. To allay the fears of the neighborhood, and to urge the continuance of these measures, or rather a more rigid system of measures, as a meant of entire safety, is the object of this communication.
To make my views perfectly intelligible, I will briefly state what I deem the pathology of this disease. The poison which stamps upon its great characteristics, whether it be aerial or telluric, makes its first impression upon the stomach. Whether it be directly stimulant, or not, it very shortly after its admission, produces great debility in this organ. With this derangement or debility of the stomach, all the organs most closely connected with it, or whose nervous influence are most modified by its derangement, deeply sympathize. Although there may be no symptoms of congestion in this state of things, still I believe that from the operation of this atmospheric cause, there is a strong tendency to congestion. This cause does not seem to make any selection, if I may so speak, of the organ or organs that are found in this state. The discrimination is made by the habits, age, health, and other circumstances of each particular case.—
Although different parts of the system are found suffering, in the different cases, still the general tendency in all is the same, viz: the retrocession of blood from the extremities to the centre. This produces the same outward appearances in all.—
Though the same general remedies such as bleeding, &c. are used in all, still the locality of what I will term the main body of the disease, differs greatly in different cases. Except in the cases of drunkards, I believe the system, even when thus prepared, will never suffer an attack of cholera, without the presence of an exciting cause to rouse into action these dormant elements of disease. This has been questioned. But I have seen nothing to shake my faith in the efficacy of preventative measures, if carried far enough. We are told that many temperate men have died. I admit the fact to be so. And if those who many differ from me will produce one well authenticated case of death from cholera, under the circumstances which I would recommend as a security, I will give up the point.
The idea of strict temperance, and such only as I hold to be a security against this disease, comprehends two important things: 1st. That the quantity and quality of food and drink supply simply the demands of nature. These demands differ in different persons. The labouring man required more food than one of sedentary habits, because there is greater expenditure of blood by perspiration, &c. than in the latter. The second thing comprehended is, that the quantity of food, and also its quality, should be completely within the control of the stomach. If more be taken than the stomach will digest, even though it be ordinarily a moderate quantity; or if it be of a quality generally harmless, I would call this at least a very unsafe quantity; or in the depressed state of the stomach, I would call the quality unsafe, however harmless it might be at other times.
I believe it frequently happens during the prevalence of a cholera atmosphere, that the stomachs of labouring men will not digest food enough to sustain their labour. A man taking moderate exercise can digest in perfect safety what will sustain life. But I do not believe a stomach poisoned by the cause of cholera, will digest much more with comfort, or receive it in entire safety. If these views, then, be correct, it follows that generally the whole population take too much food.—
They take the usual quantity, and the whole population generally feels the effects more or less; and when the cause is very virulent, this moderate quantity brings on an attack of cholera in very prudent, temperate men. If it be asked how much food should be taken, I would answer, that upon this there can be laid down no positive rule. More or less may be taken, according to the virulence of the poison. I have felt great depression, after taking less than one fourth of the usual quantity. When a cholera atmosphere prevails, I have observed that when the stomach is empty, there is in it a comfortable sense of warmth. It seems to undergo a slight reaction, after its heavy task has been performed. Persons, as far as my knowledge goes, do not, during such seasons, feel the usual sense of hunger. —
Other things that must be attended to– such as the passions, anger, grief, joy, sorrow, and especially fear— indeed whatever tends to affect the system strongly. To this may be added, the importance of warm, comfortable clothing, changed according to the temperature; also, sleeping warm, avoiding much exposure to the sun, fatigue, dampness, loss of sleep, or any cause that will derange the system.—
I cannot close this article without calling the attention of your readers to the danger of tobacco: It debilitates the stomach under the most favourable circumstances; and how much more destructive of its tone must it be when acting in concert with such an agent as the cause of this deaded scourge. Shepherdstown, Sept. 21, 1832.
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