This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Family Doctor" book
In the popular mind consumption and tuberculosis are one and the same thing. They are not the same thing, however, and it is worth while keeping the distinction in mind. Consumption is the terminal stage of tuberculosis but tuberculosis does not have to become consumption. If tuberculosis were always recognized when it is merely tuberculosis and proper treatment followed nobody would need to die of the disease. When the tubercle bacillus gets lodging in the tissue it reproduces itself very rapidly. The cells of the body at once start a fight with it and in the struggle many of them die. An accumulation of dead cells and living and dead bacilli takes place on the battle field and a little lump forms. This is the lump which has given us the name tuberculosis. By and by when the little lump grows large enough to become a foreign body, nature cuts it off from healthy tissue in order to save that which is still healthy. Here is where the other micro-organisms come in to help the tubercle bacillus. The streptococcus and the staphylococcus which exist very plentifully in nature, and which can do no harm to the body so long as it is perfectly healthy, get lodgment in this injured tissue and help to break it down. What is called softening takes place and the little lump becomes a cheesy mass. This is consumption. For the purpose of getting rid of this dead matter nature breaks a channel into the nearest opening of the body and throws it out. This is called ulceration and ejection of the dead tissue. During this time there is danger of the tubercle bacillus again getting back into the system through re-infection. If the person is at all uncleanly or does not destroy every particle of this dead tissue when it comes off, he is sure to re-inoculate himself.
Death-rate from consumption, of men in fifty-three occupations, in the registration States, of the United States--1900. (Brandt.)
No one ever dies of a single attack of tuberculosis. The first attack is mild. This is followed by one slightly more severe, and there is a series of attacks, each more severe than the preceding one until finally the process culminates in death.