The Symptoms of Chlorosis

Pale or yellowish countenance; dark circles about the eyes; palpitation of the heart; lassitude; variable and perverted appetite; depression of the mind; usually suppressed or scanty menstruation.

Chlorosis is a disease closely allied to anaemia. It in fact presents many of the symptoms of the latter disease, though there are several points of difference, one of the most marked of which is that there is little or no emaciation in chlorosis and may often be an increase of flesh, while in anaemia the opposite is almost invariably the case. Chlorosis generally occurs in young girls just entering womanhood, though it may occur in women at any period of life, and there have been a few instances of its occurrence in men. It usually occurs just after the beginning of menstruation. One of the first symptoms noticed is lassitude on slight exercise. Increasing loss of color is next observed, the cheeks becoming blanched, and, in brunettes and persons with dark complexions, acquiring a yellowish tinge which has a greenish appearance in contrast with the dark rings that encircle the eyes. In addition to the symptoms enumerated above, the patient suffers with anaemia, or the symptoms of anaemia, such as great shortness of breath upon taking even slight exercise. In many cases, hacking cough, nervous disorders, derangement of the digestion, obstinate constipation of the bowels. Sometimes slight dropsical appearance and swelling of the ankles occur, although this last symptom is not so serious as is generally supposed, the appearance of oedema being deceptive. One of the most unaccountable peculiarities of the disease is the great perversion of the appetite, the patient frequently eating slate and lead pencils, chalk, clay, even cotton, wool, and other indigestible substances, when not observed. It is generally supposed that suppression of menstruation, or amenorrhoea, is a constant symptom in chlorosis. This is not the case, as many cases have been observed in which this function was performed as regularly and even more profusely than in health.

The Causes of Chlorosis

Among the causes of chlorosis the first that should be mentioned are unhygienic habits of life, particularly sedentary habits, and the unwholesome mental condition produced by the reading of novels and other sentimental literature. The practice of secret vice very often entails upon its victims this serious disease. Many cases of chlorosis are due to the artificial modes of life imposed upon young girls by the habits of modem society. This accounts for the very great increase in the frequency of the disease which has been noticed within the last forty or fifty years. There can be no doubt that the neglect of physical culture among girls is a most potent cause of this malady. An unwholesome diet, particularly the use of pastry, highly seasoned food, Condiments, fats, and sugar in the shape of preserves, candies, and sweetmeats, has much to do in producing this disease. Lastly may be mentioned a hered itary disposition and congenital defects. An eminent German observer has shown that in many of the worst cases of this disease the large arteries of the body are exceedingly small, to which defect he thinks the disease is in many cases due. The popular supposition that it is caused by suppression of the menses is not supported by facts. In this, as in most other diseases in which the symptom referred to is observed, the suppression of the menstrual function is an effect of the disease rather than the opposite. It is necessary to keep this point in mind, as it has an important bearing on the treatment. Another popular theory respecting the origin of the disease, namely, that it originates in the emotions, being particularly induced by disappointment in love, is not without foundation, although cases in which it originates in this way are by no means the most common.