Acute is a Latin word equivalent to our word sharp. An acute disease is a short, sharp illness. The symptoms are commonly severe and there is fever, but the disease does not last long. "As a general thing," so it was said in days gone by, "the suddenness of the attack, the loss of appetite, the prostration of the nervous force and the strength, proclaim the unwelcome presence of 'a fever.'" Examples of acute disease are pneumonia, typhoid fever, meningitis, smallpox, measles, scarlet fever, etc.

Chronic comes from chronos, meaning time. A chronic disease is a lasting one, often persisting for the remainder of the life of the individual. Although there are often exacerbations of acute symptoms in chronic disease, on the whole the symptoms are less severe than in acute disease and there is little or no fever; indeed, there may be subnormal temperature. Examples of chronic disease are chronic rhinitis, gastric ulcer, chronic arthritis, most nervous diseases, etc.

During the last century acute disease was very common, epidemics being the rule. Almost every year epidemics of diphtheria or smallpox or measles or scarlet fever or pneumonia or, typhoid fever, etc., developed. Hygiene and sanitation were largely neglected and Hygienists made slow progress in promoting Hygienic and sanitary science among the people. It is now everywhere admitted that progress in Hygiene and sanitation and not medicine was responsible for the disappearance of these epidemics.

The death rate in acute disease, at all ages of life under medical care, was very high, in some instances, in diphtheria, being as high as 100 percent. In typhus, typhoid and yellow fever the death rate was very high. It will be interesting and instructive to contrast Hygienic care with medical care of the time and compare results.

The idea prevailed then as now that the patient with high fever must be treated in a way to reduce the fever. The practice is as unscientific as it is fatal. Under the antipyretic treatment, so freely employed by physicians at that time, untold thousands were retired to that refuge from physicians which is located several feet below the surface of the earth. Hygienists, recognizing the remedial character of fever, did not seek to reduce temperature, as they did not seek to suppress other parts of the remedial process. As a consequence, they enjoyed a much more successful practice.

Thomas Low Nichols, M.D., said that the Hygienic practitioner is in a different position from the practitioners of medicine--"If he has a case of fever, he would be ashamed to take more than a week in curing it." Kittredge said that as a common thing, he scarcely had to visit a child suffering with the common diseases of childhood more than two or three times before the patient was sufficiently recovered that the family could take charge and complete the work. He said that medical men know "very well that even a very large practice would soon run out if they should stop drugging it," and that "they have only to give one dose of medicine (drug) to ensure at least the necessity for a dozen more."

The great certainty with which acute sufferers recover health under Hygienic care induced some early graduates of the Hygeo-Therapeutic College to offer to care for such patients, if within 20 miles of their residences and if called before any drugging was done, with the understanding that if the patient did not recover within a reasonable length of time, they would make no charges for their services. This not only served to reassure people who knew little or nothing of Hygiene, but it demonstrated that Hygiene could be as effectively carried out in the home as in an institution.

This should answer the question often asked: will Hygiene meet the needs in cases of acute disease? It is no uncommon thing to have one whose life has been saved by Hygiene, but who suffered with chronic disease, to send a child or a wife or husband to the hospital with an acute disease, saying: "I sent for a physician who gives medicine for I do not suppose that Hygiene would reach such cases."

Hygiene will not reach anything, except those cases in which all the many and varied forms of treating and curing disease have been used and failed. Hygiene is valuable and helpful only in those cases that have been declared to be incurable. Hygienists are the kind of idiots that abandon all schemes that offer help to the sufferers except one that will work on the broken-down and hopeless. If it offers help to the young and recoverable, Hygienists want nothing to do with it. If it is helpful to those who have squandered their inheritance on all manners of scientific cures, but is useless in those who are physiologically solvent, Hygienists can use it.

In his editorial for February 1860, Trall said: "In no class of diseases are the incomparable safety and superiority of hygienic medication more strikingly manifested than in the eruptive fevers--smallpox, measles, scarlet fever, erysipelas, etc." The "old fashioned" practice of keeping smallpox patients in close, heated rooms, denying them water to drink and drugging them to death was the real cause of the high death rate. Let us always bear in mind the fact that the high death rate in smallpox was due to barbarous treatment. Physicians knew nothing better than heroic drugging and keeping the patient shut up in a foul atmosphere, denying him even the simplest gratification of his senses, literally letting him die for lack of a single drink of cool water. In those dark ages death was the most common result of medical treatment.

In 1859 E. M. Snow, M.D., Health Superintendent of Providence, R.I., communicated to the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal an account of 11 cases of smallpox which just shortly before the communication was made had all recovered in Providence, all of them cared for without drugs and not one of them dying. In this communication Snow said: "The treatment was expectant to the fullest extent. Not one of the eleven cases took a particle of medicine of any description, from first to last. My efforts were wholly directed to measures to prevent contagion, the chief of which were cleanliness and ventilation. The result was that all recovered--none died. Every case went forward to a favorable termination without a single unfavorable symptom."

Well did Trall exclaim that this is quite equal to the best of Hygienic care. "We never claimed for our system, when directed by the most skillful and experienced hands, any better than a cure of all the cases." He asked, if this "expectant" treatment or no-medicine plan "is going to cure all cases of so formidable a disease as smallpox, will not the same principle apply to some other diseases? And if to some, why not to all?"