Saturday, November 29, 2014

Asthma cigarettes

Some of you may have seen this particular image doing the rounds a while back.  I'm guilty of posting it myself without comment to my facebook page because, you know, smoking and asthma!  Funny!


As with every meme that does the rounds on facebook, however, the wider historical context of this one probably got a little bit missed in the details. 

So let's have a little bit of a chat about 'Asthma cigarettes'. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dr. Richard Mead - Generous Georgian

I recently got invited to the opening of an exhibition at the Foundling museum.  Your correspondent was doubly excited a) because she has never been taken seriously as a blogger before and b) because it was about a really interesting character named Dr. Richard Mead. 

Also your correspondent really enjoys a good medical history exhibit. 

Unfortunately she ran up against the smallish problem whereby she lives in Australia with a toddler and an obstetric practice and the exhibition is in London. 

The people at the Foundling museum have been kind enough to bring the exhibition to me, and today I am going to bring a little of it to you.  If you are in London, though, please go, tell me how awesome it is and turn me green with jealousy!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Rear endings

An enema, where fluid is inserted into the bowel via the rectum, is a very useful tool in a doctor or a nurse's toolkit.

It's also often the butt of many, many a joke.  (Forgive me for that one.  I couldn't help myself).


In modern medicine enemas are most frequently used to help with constipation, clear the bowel out prior to a surgical procedure such as a colonoscopy or to help in imaging, for example in a barium enema. 


However it may surprise you to know that history of human's sticking fluid up their rectums is a long and, well, somewhat obsessed one.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Shunning the Lepers

To people in Western societies leprosy is usually the punchline of a joke.  To us leprosy is now rare and fairly treatable, although interestingly around 200 people a year are still diagnosed in the USA.

However Leprosy still affects around 180, 000 people worldwide acutely, with up to a million suffering chronic complications most of them in Africa and Asia. It is a disease that has only been controlled in very recent history, mainly due to increased hygiene practices.  Prior to that it has been something that has stalked humanity for almost all of known history.

The earliest recorded account of a disease resembling leprosy appears in an Egyptian papyrus document in 1550 BC. Indian writings also mention a similar illness in 600 BC.  It appears that the army of Alexander the Great may have brought leprosy back from India with them - as accounts of it appeared in their writings around this time.  Similarly it began to be recorded by the Romans around 62 BC when Pompeii's soldiers came back from Asia minor.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Outbreak

It's all over the news.  And it's scary.  The virus without a cure that makes you literally bleed to death.  With a 90% mortality rate.  That's raging out of control in Africa.

Ebola.

But what is it, exactly?  And where did it come from?