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Diseases in The Victorian Age

An essay about the diseases and treatments in the Victorian age.

Diseases in the Victorian Age took to great importance in the lifestyle and hardships that the Victorians had. During the Victorian Age, people had to worry for themselves,family and friends in fear that disease and death might strike. Diseases that had the most impact on the Victorians include Cholera, Yellow Fever and Typhus. Out of the Victorian Society, infants and children were the most affected by diseases. Adolescents were of the most vulnerable to diseases because of their weak immune systems and strength. Before they could even enter the workforce, they would have to survive an assortment of epidemic diseases (Childhood Diseases…1). Death was so frequent that children even created a game called “Funerals” as kids today might play Doctor (1). Almost one third of deaths in the Victorian Age were to children under five years old. Because of dirty and crowded conditions, the death rate of children in poverty was even higher. Diarrhea, which could kill an infant in less than 48 hours, resulted from poor sanitation, lack of hygiene and steamy summers (1). Measles, another childhood disease, often weakened the immune systems of children and left them even more vulnerable to infections, particularly pneumonia. This was even worse in poor areas because the overcrowding made it hard to isolate the victim (Diseases and Epidemics 1).

Aside from the childhood diseases, there were also many epidemics that struck the middle aged population. These epidemics include cholera, yellow fever, diphtheria, typhus and typhoid. In 1854, a cholera outbreak in London caused 500 deaths in only 10 days. Cholera is an infectious disease that causes diarrhea, severe dehydration and cramps. London had also dealt with a typhus epidemic from 1870 to 1871.Typhus is an infectious disease that caused severe headache, sustained fever and created outbreaks of red rashes on the victim . This epidemic even reached the royal family when the Prince of Wales, Edward suffered from it (2). These epidemics only got worse due to the crowdedness of workhouses and small homes. All of these diseases were considered to be great threats to the Victorian society and if a solution was not to be found, could have possibly wiped out the entire population of Victorian England.

The Victorians took many measures to prevent and treat the threats to their society. They realized that sanitation and medical science created useful ways to control the epidemics and diseases. Medical science linked both typhoid and typhus to the contamination of water (2). In response to this, London improved the treatment of sewage which helped stop the spread of diseases. As the living conditions of the working class gradually improved, the spread of typhus and typhoid declined. Although inoculations were already developed by Edward Jenner in the 1790s, effective regulations to enforce the immunization were not developed until the 1871-1872 smallpox epidemic (2). Other painful and not very effective “treatments” included plastering, bleeding, purging, surgery and blistering. Bleeding involved letting a patient for a period of time and it was thought that it helped lower high blood pressure. Purging was a technique that consisted of providing a patient with a large dose of laxatives to “remove toxins” him. Although surgery was not very effective at first, it became safer and more effective through the usage of antiseptic medicines. Blistering, likely to be one of the more painful of the ineffective treatments was a treatment in which acid or hot plasters were pored on an ill patient. This was done because Victorians thought that the body could only contain one illness at a time which meant that if they caused blistering, the actual disease would leave the body. Lastly, amputation was discovered to separate a limb from a body, in some cases to stop gangrene from infecting the whole body. This was done by first giving the patient wine to drink and holding up a chloroform soaked rag up to the patient’s face to numb some of the pain.The doctor would then stop the blood circulation in the area that is to be amputated with a tourniquet. He would then take a scalpel and cut through all the flesh and finally saw the rest of the bone. Lastly, he would cauterize the veins and arteries and then sealed the limb with hot tar to stop the bleeding. Without the knowledge of bacteria and sterilization, infection frequently took over (Medical Treatments 1).Diseases have played a major part in the lifestyle of the Victorians. Prevention progressed with the advancement in medical sciences and less and less people were dying as a result. Along with the decreasing in the rate of death and illness, living conditions of the lower classes were being improved as well. With all the improvements and treatments developed in the Victorian Age, the Victorians didn’t have to worry as much for themselves, their friends or their family and their children didn’t have to witness death as frequently as they did.he doctor would then stop the blood circulation in the area that is to be amputated with a tourniquet. He would then take a scalpel and cut through all the flesh and finally saw the rest of the bone. Lastly, he would cauterize the veins and arteries and then sealed the limb with hot tar to stop the bleeding. Without the knowledge of bacteria and sterilization, infection frequently took over (Medical Treatments 1). Diseases have played a major part in the lifestyle of the Victorians. Prevention progressed with the advancement in medical sciences and less and less people were dying as a result. Along with the decreasing in the rate of death and illness, living conditions of the lower classes were being improved as well. With all the improvements and treatments developed in the Victorian Age, the Victorians didn’t have to worry as much for themselves, their friends or their family and their children didn’t have to witness death as frequently as they did.

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