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Author(s):

Richard J. Kahn

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190053253.003.0017
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date: 23 April 2021

The etymology of the word “consumption” is followed by a discussion of the anatomy of the respiratory system and a quote by William Cullen on the frequency of hemoptysis (coughing up blood) in the disease. Barker reports on the incidence of consumption in women and concludes that the disease was much more frequent in both sexes than in former years, owing in part to neglect and delay on the part of the patient, changes in mode of living and dress, and the increased use of spiritous liquors among both sexes. He argues that consumption was more common in New England in part due to “the cold changeable air of our variable climate” and to hereditary differences between the populations of New England and states further south. He considers heredity the issue in his loss of two children, at three weeks and at six months, both born of consumptive mothers.

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