Advantage of Treatment Abroad - The Special Benefits to be Derived from Marienbad, Homburg, Carlsbad - Delightful Situation of Evian-les-bains - Diet Cures - Nauheim Treatment - Resorts of the Tyrol - The Pyrenees ravelling has become much easier and T cheaper within the last few years. People no longer consider a trip to the Continent in the light of a pilgrimage, and foreign health resorts are catering much more than formerly for the less well-off portion of the English people.
In all the well-known spas abroad there are hotels of varying prices, and it is possible to enjoy all the health advantages of a cure with the novel recreation of life abroad for quite a moderate sum nowadays. In some places the managing directors make a point of building an additional hotel or cure-house where quite a modest tariff is charged, and the heavy expenses which a trip to a spa in France, Germany, or Austria formerly involved are very much reduced, except for those people who still prefer a large and fashionable hotel.
There is a great deal to be said in favour of treatment at a foreign spa compared with one in England, even when there is nothing to choose between the climate and mineral characteristics of the two. A holiday abroad takes us away altogether from the ideas and habits of everyday life. Cooking, in most cases, is different, and the food is a thorough change. Then we are surrounded by people speaking a different language, with customs different to our own; and then, again, most health resorts are situated amid beautiful scenery.
The difficulty which faces most people is that they do not know which place to choose of the two or three the doctor may recommend as suitable to their cases. In many instances the doctor himself has not visited the spa, and those going in for treatment are somewhat timid about facing foreign doctors, foreign hotels, and foreign customs. They have a hazy idea that the sanitary conditions and the water supply of these places are very inferior compared with England; but this idea is quite unfounded, as the authorities at foreign health resorts are fully alive to the importance of perfect hygiene and sanitation.
With regard to the best spas, most people know that certain spas have natural mineral waters, efficacious in the treatment of such diseases as gout and obesity. Other spas are suitable for heart affections, whilst another type of health resort, because of the iron contained in its waters, is advocated for anaemia, debility, - and similar ailments.
Carlsbad and Marienbad both are popular. They are thronged in the season by the wealthy and the fashionable, who imagine that, by a course of the waters, they will undo the evil effects of over-feeding and over-drinking for months previously. The waters are alkaline, and contain sulphates. These places are suited to robust people who wish to be treated for gout, obesity, or liver affections. People with the various diseases which follow upon too little exercise and liberal quantities of food will do well at these places, which are situated close together. The season is at its height in June and July, when hundreds of health pilgrims flock to the place and drink and bathe and exercise as a serious business. Carlsbad can be reached in thirty-one hours from London.
Waters of the same type are found at Wiesbaden, Kissingen, and Brides-les-bain. Dyspeptic invalids are treated at Vichy, which is especially suitable for men and women of the nervous type, where a very luxuriously appointed spa for electrical and mechanical appliances and massage is installed. It can be reached in fourteen hours from London, so that the journey is not a very serious undertaking.
Homburg is another very fashionable spa, close to Frankfort-on-the-rhine, where gouty and rheumatic cases are treated effectively.
Aix-les-Bains, in the Savoy, specialises in cases of rheumatoid arthritis and gout, and not far away is Brides-les-bains, a far less fashionable and smaller place, which has at the same time a very complete equipment of health-resort treatment.
Evian is one of the most delightful spas in the world for those who desire health treatment, comfort, and artistic surroundings combined. Its waters are famous for the treatment of gout, liver, kidney and heart conditions. There is not a better appointed "cure-house" in the world. The natural mineral waters are utilised also for baths and douches of all kinds.
One of the most interesting features of the place is a house devoted to diet cures. Each patient is served, in the dining-room, with a particular diet according to the doctor's prescription. There are diets suitable for diabetes, gout, or obesity. There are diets absolutely without salt, and this is a very important matter. Doctors often tell their patients not to take salt, but the great difficulty is to be able to procure a saltless diet, as it is rarely possible in a big hotel for a cook to prepare special dishes cooked without salt for one person. The charges in this "cure-house" are exceedingly moderate, especially during those months of the year which are not in the fashionable season.
Evian is situated on the Lake of Geneva, opposite Lausanne, and has some of the most glorious views in the world. Its climatic conditions are mildly bracing, so that it is very suitable for convalescents or for delicate children; whilst the properties of the drinking water are such that it is one of the very best places for people suffering from kidney and liver affections.
The Nauheim treatment for heart affections is fairly well-known to the general public. Those suffering from enfeebled heart after influenza and certain other heart affections where there is no organic disease, but which are nervous and irritable in origin, are very much benefited by the treatment at Nauheim.
Baths and exercise comprise the chief treatment, and it must not be forgotten that many of our own health resorts, such as Bath, Harrogate, and Buxton, carry out this treatment perfectly satisfactorily. This is an important matter, as people with heart affections should not be subject to the strain of a long journey and the fatigue it entails.
Anaemia and debility are such common diseases that some knowledge of where impoverished blood conditions are best treated on the Continent may be useful. There are a great many of these iron water spas in Europe, amongst the best-known being St. Moritz, which has two factors which operate in the treatment of anaemia. For one thing, its elevation is nearly 6,000 feet above sea-level, and it is a wellknown fact that high altitudes increase the red corpuscles in the blood. Then its water contains iron salt, and it is iron that the blood is deficient in. St. Moritz has a world-wide reputation as a resort for consumptives.
Spa, in Belgium, is fairly accessible from this country; whilst Schwalbach, in Germany, is not far from Ems, where people go for throat and respiratory affections.
Because the ideal mineral water should contain both iron and arsenic for the treatment of anaemia, Levico, in the Austrian Tyrol, deserves a very hearty recommendation. No medicines can have the same beneficial effect upon an anaemic constitution as natural mineral waters containing iron and arsenic.
Levico is a very enterprising and progressive place, splendidly situated in the valley of the Valsugana, 1,600 feet above the sea-level, near a lake which offers every facility for bathing and boating. The bathing establishments and "cure-houses" contain all modern requirements in the shape of baths, physical culture systems, electric treatment, etc.
Whilst the arsenic and iron baths are obtained at Levico, and Vetriolo, 3,000 feet above Levico, the mineral waters are bottled and sent to all parts of the world, and thus can be used as a cure at home in such ailments as anaemia, rheumatism, gout, nervous affections, and diabetes. The season is from the beginning of April until the end of October, and as the place is growing rapidly and new hotels are being built, Levico is bound to become popular.
Along the Pyrenees there are various sulphur-water spas which are largely utilised for people with skin affections, gout, and delicate throats.
One of the most delightful of the health resorts on the Pyrenees is Vernet-les-bains, which is crowded during the season with French, Spanish and Portuguese. During the last few years English people are coming to know Vernet, which has the very great advantage of being open all the year round. It is during the winter and early spring season that people will find Vernet at its best, and it can be recommended for the treatment of rheumatism, nervous ailments and bronchitis, and other respiratory affections except consumption.
It must not be forgotten that a doctor should always be consulted before a choice of a foreign spa is made. No patient can diagnose his or her own condition, and it depends altogether on the vitality at the time whether a bracing or sedative climate should be chosen. Many people are anxious to be "braced up" when they actually require a rest of mind and body. They need to go slowly, so that they may store up energy; whilst a bracing place has the very opposite effect. In a bracing atmosphere the body machine is driven at high pressure, and this is especially true in asthma, certain nervous affections, tuberculosis, and gout.
Somebody once called neurasthenia "physiological bankruptcy," and it is true that in many of these nervous conditions the vital energies require to be husbanded in every possible way. Thus a restful, soothing, foreign spa. where baths and drinking of the waters can be alternated with gentle exercise in the form of moderate walks into the surrounding country, and long sun baths, are what the majority of invalids need when they are most run down.