This section is from the "Impaired Health: Its Cause And Cure" (Volume 1) book, by John H. Tilden. Also available from Amazon: Impaired health its cause and cure: A repudiation of the conventional treatment of disease
Obviously both plans are rather more detrimental than good. The object is fine, for it is necessary to have as pure air as possible; but the good is, according to my way of thinking, more than offset by the irritating effect of the cold on the lungs. Reader, stop and think: These patients are in heated houses all day, and some of them in superheated houses. At night they breathe an atmosphere many degrees colder than it is throughout the day. The house temperature through the day is seventy degrees Fahrenheit, or more; while on the porch it ranges, in Denver, from thirty-two degrees above to ten degrees below zero. The range is from thirty-eight to eighty degrees. Can anyone with common sense believe that a weak, diseased lung will thrive subjected every twenty-four hours to such extremes of temperature?
If the above is true, the modem treatment of this disease could not possibly be much worse.
If houses are as clean as they should be; if bedding is as clean as bedding should always be, patients will do much better in a closed house--closed up for the entire night--and fire enough to keep the night temperature within ten or twenty degrees of the day temperature.
All of us (doctors and laymen) must go through the fresh air insanity. Converts to new thoughts, or old thoughts, are always nearsighted, enthusiastic, and even fanatical in their loyalty in following literally and not wisely such fads. The fresh air craze has surely killed its quota. Filthy houses have done their share. Now sensible people should split the difference and keep both foul and cold air out of their lungs. To encourage those who read this, I will say: The composition of the atmosphere is always the same,* and, like all organs, it is maintained at the same composition, and must remain so until destroyed; and along with its destruction must go all animal life. (*This does not mean that the air of proper composition cannot be made the vehicle of filth. Houses, bedding, clothing, and the body must be clean.)
It is all nonsense to talk about burning up or breathing out of the atmosphere all the oxygen. If houses are clean, no harm will come to the sick by closing doors and windows to prevent them from chilling their lungs and blood by breathing an atmosphere much colder than their bodies.
Harm from breathing cold air does not end with simply causing irritation; the patient's nerve energy is used up in resisting the cold. It takes nerve energy to resist cold; it takes nerve energy to digest food. This being true, should not sick people be kept in a warm atmosphere, and fed on food that will nourish the body at the least expenditure of energy in digestion?
The nervous system of a plithisical patient should not be severely taxed in resisting cold. It must be remembered that digestion cannot be carried on with a bodily temperature varying much from 99° F.
It is a mistake for sick people to live in an atmosphere so cold that wool or other heavy, impervious underwear is thought to be necessary to keep the body warm. Air is a tonic and stimulant to the skin, and, neither last nor least, it is a disinfectant. To keep the surface of the body sweet and clean, air must get to it, and it cannot when the body is swathed in tight-fitting woolen or other underwear. Open-woven cloth is better; no underwear at all is best.
It matters not how clean a housewife may be-if she does not air her closets and clothing, she cannot boast of her cleanliness. Men who ruin their homes with tobacco smoke, rendering them unfit for women and children to live in, certainly pay a lot for their pleasure. I have known of invalid wives who could get well if their homes could be freed from stale tobacco smoke. Invalid wives are expensive.
A part of humanity live in ill-smelling houses and clothing. Many men think they are excused for ill-smelling bodies because their work is dirty. This is not necessary. Grease, smoke, dust, and iron rust or filings will make the clothes, hands, and face dirty; but I deny that it is necessary for any man to emit an odor that is offensive.
Women who take advantage of dirty work as an excuse for making themselves a nuisance from malodor should be boycotted. It is no disgrace to do work that makes one's body and clothes dirty; but there never can be any excuse for filth, and the odor that accompanies it. People who are filthy are a menace to society and should be taken care of by the health authorities, in the same manner that all decomposition is cared for.
Air and dust, sometimes called dirt, are aseptic and antiseptic. Dust is fought against by housewives, and cities hold it down with the sprinkling cars. In this way one of nature's health-imparting agencies is made inefficient.
Winds and storms are necessary; they are nature's sanitary measures. Wind is necessary for lowlands and low altitudes. Canyons are frequently swept by windsthe reason given being that they act as chimneys for conveying hot air out of the plains: the hot air rises and the cold air goes to the bottom, creating currents. These winds are sanitary; they carry out of the canyons malodors, and antisepticize the accumulated decomposition.
Vegetation grows more luxuriantly, everything being equal, in a windy country than it does in a windless country. Trees grow more rapidly in Kansas because of its winds. Chicago is noted for large, fine-looking girls, and wind. The relationship is obvious.
Walls of wood and stone around private residences in cities are menacing to the health of the neighborhood.
Houses for stock and chickens should be nothing more than windbreaks--never airtight pens or houses. All that animals need are windbreaks; they do not need warm houses, notwithstanding the fact that such protection is often given as a matter of economy--the warmer the animal is kept, the less food is needed. But this is economy at the expense of health. Warm houses and tuberculosis are close friends, and are found among the human animals as well as the brute creation.
The more air we breathe, the better our digestions will be. Warm, close houses are not so menacing to health as people generally believe. The real health-destroyer in our houses is dirt that is taking on septic change: dirty clothes, kept in closets that cannot be ventilated and are not cleaned; decaying food, and never thoroughly cleaned pantries and ice-chests; old beds that are dressed with nice, white pillows and spreads--veritable whited sepulchers; and then the habit of keeping an ill-smelling cesspool under the diaphragm, from eating beyond the digestive capacity.
Keep the home, in every comer and recess, sweet and clean; keep dirty clothing from accumulating; keep the body and mind clean; then, when cold weather comes, it will not be necessary to keep doors and windows open or to sleep out-of-doors. Keep clean and comfortable, and avoid shocking the lungs and nervous system by breathing air seventy to eighty degrees colder at night than at midday. When necessary to breathe cold air, do so in action--when walking, exercising, or at work. Do not sit out-of-doors wrapped up, or sleep out-of-doors.
In all things it is worth while to take a commonsense view; and in the care of the body, moderation--avoiding fanaticism, which is another name for ignorance--is the safer practice, and much more conducive to long life and success.