This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
The following may be mentioned as the most clearly traceable causes of consumption:
The health of the lungs depends more upon purity of the atmosphere than upon any other cause. There are numerous impurities to which the air is subject, but the most potent of them all in the production of consumption is what is known as the organic matter of the breath. This is always present in air which has been contaminated by the products of respiration, hence is found in abundance in the air of churches, lecture halls, school rooms, and other places where large numbers of people congregate, as well as in most dwelling houses during the cold season of the year, when dwellings and other buildings are very seldom sufficiently ventilated. Some of our most eminent sanitary authorities assert that this organic matter is the most important of all the causes of consumption. The inhalation of dust is another active cause, the effect being to produce local irritation which gradually increases and extends more and more deeply into the air-tubes until the air-cells become involved. This cause is particularly active upon those engaged in the trades of stone-cutting, file-grinding, wool-carding, cigar-making, and other dusty occupations.
Errors in diet, particularly the use of food of an innutritious character or deficient in the elements of nutrition, and an insufficient supply of food, are very productive of conditions of the system which in the highest degree favor the occurrence of consumption. Young ladies who attempt to live on bread and butter and pickles, and older ones who make white bread and strong tea their staple articles of diet, are the favorite victims of this disease. The idea has been advanced that the use of an exclusively vegetable diet is productive of consumption, but no substantial evidence has been presented in favor of this views and it can be clearly shown by irrefragable evidence that this is not the case. Indeed we have seen persons recover from the disease in its third stage when subsisting upon an almost exclusively vegetable diet. Vegetable food will sustain life well under all conditions, in health as well as disease, provided it is well digested and thus made into pure and healthy blood.
A large number of those who suffer with this disease date the beginning of their disease from "taking cold" at some time. This cause is seldom looked upon with that degree of seriousness which it really deserves. A cold is thought to be so trivial that it hardly requires medical attention at all, and thus many acute catarrhs which are in themselves trivial, lay the foundation for this more formidable malady. A cold should never be neglected. Drinking large draughts of cold water when the body is overheated by exercise has been pointed out by some as a cause of consumption, and there are reasons for believing that this may be the case. The practice is certainly a very pernicious one, often occasioning a great shock to the system, fully as much as is produced by exposure of the surface of the body to cold air.