The nineteenth century was one of the most important eras in the history of medicine as many new cures and technologies were discovered. At the beginning, many poor people still lived in houses without proper sanitation, worked in dangerous factories and drank water from polluted rivers. By the end of the century, social conditions had improved, medicine was more complex, treatments were more widely offered and technology was more advanced along with many other improvements. But why did these changes occur? What caused them? Why did they occur during the nineteenth century and not before.
During the nineteenth century, Britain became the first industrialised nation in the world and with the machines came problems. Many rural people, finding themselves out of work, moved to the towns in search of a new job in the factories. Even though new industrialised towns were built such as Manchester or Leeds, the towns could not cope with the amount of people. Houses were illegally built in cramped conditions next to factories that heavily polluted the air. In these slums, disease was rife and many died from cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis and many more.
Some died from injuries at work, where an arm was cut off and the wound turned septic. According to Edwin Chadwick’s ‘Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain’ which was published in 1842; the average age of death depended on class and on where you lived. The results show that people generally lived longer in the countryside and people of a higher class lived longer than those who worked in the factories. The average age of death for the working class in Leeds was just nineteen years of age compared to thirty-eight in a rural area.
This report recommended that the government should organise proper drainage and refuse collection, provide a pure water supply and appoint a Medical Officer of Health. However, these changes were not implemented until thirty years later when Parliament finally agreed. There were a number of reasons why the government’s view of health conditions in towns changed in the 1870’s. The health in towns was still very bad and there were a number of cholera epidemics, including the famous one where Dr. John Snow linked cholera to polluted water.
In 1861, Pasteur proved that germs cause decay. It was Robert Koch who linked the germ theory and disease with actual proof in 1878, a few years after the Second Public Health Act had been passed, but many people believed that he was right before he proved it. One of the most important reasons was that in 1867, the vote was given to all male householders. Before, it had just been the rich that had voted. The rich lived in the towns, owned houses where disease was kept to a minimum and lived, on average, twenty-five years longer than the urban working class.
The Public Health Act was extremely successful and by the end of the century almost all towns had hygienic sewers and water systems. The Industrial Revolution meant that the government was more aware of the health of ordinary people and they tried to make sure that more people had access to cures and that the poorer classes were better protected against disease. Food was also of better quality and the harvests were more reliable. More wheat could be sown and harvested. The supply and demand laws meant that the price of food decreased and people ate more of better quality food.
BnUr Visit coursework ca in Many important discoveries were made during the nineteenth century, ones that changed people’s way of thinking, others that revolutionised surgery and others that saved thousands of lives. At the end of the eighteenth century, Edward Jenner discovered vaccination, initially for smallpox but people like Pasteur applied Jenner’s discovery to other diseases such as anthrax or rabies and were able to prevent many people and animals from dying. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the Prussians had a system of vaccinating their soldiers whereas the French had none.
Only two hundred and ninety seven Prussians caught smallpox compared to approximately twenty three thousand of the French soldiers. Louis Pasteur not only discovered vaccinations for many other diseases but also changed people’s reasoning behind decay. He disproved spontaneous generation and the germ theory became more popular. He managed to link germs to disease in plants and animals but although he tried to link germs to disease in humans, he was unsuccessful. Robert Koch, a German doctor, carried on the work of Louis Pasteur and it was Koch, in 1878 who discovered the link between germs and human diseases.
By the end of the century, he had identified the germs that caused twenty-one diseases. Another step forward in medicine was the discovery of anaesthetics. In 1799 Humphrey Davy noticed that it dulled the feeling and proposed the use of it in surgery. In 1844, an American dentist used it and in 1874, James Simpson, a surgeon from Edinburgh began to use chloroform in operations. Chloroform worked better than laughing gas but unfortunately, doctors were not always sure how much to give to their patients. As a result, many died from an overdose of chloroform. In 1853, Queen Victoria was given chloroform for the birth of her eldest.
It was successful and the drug became more widespread. coec ecr seececw orec eck inec foec ec. Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss was a doctor who proposed the theory that disease was spread on the hands of doctors when going from one person to another. He insisted that doctors and students should wash their hands in calcium chloride between treating patients. The death rate dropped dramatically in his ward from twelve percent to just one percent. Despite the success of Semmelweiss’s discovery, many doctors opposed him and high death rates from infections in hospitals continued. cocg cgr secgcgw orcg cgk incg focg cg.
Wound infection was a major problem in the early nineteenth century and of those who managed to survive the operation a number died from wounds turning septic and becoming infected. Joseph Lister was Professor of Surgery at the university in Glasgow from 1860 and it was in 1865 that he came across the research of Pasteur that showed that micro-organisms in the air turned wine sour. Lister immediately connected microbes in the air and the blood poisoning in wounds that was killing people. Since Lister knew what caused the blood poisoning, he could find ways of destroying the microbes.
His first idea was to clean the wound and then apply a piece of lint that had been soaked in carbolic acid. This was the first successful treatment of compound fractures. He invented a pump which sprayed a mist of carbolic acid into the air in the operating theatre. The number of patients dying from infection dropped. Just like Semmelweiss, many people did not agree with Lister and the nurses thought that he was too clean. Others doctors did not carry out Lister’s ideas carefully enough so many still died from wound infection. Some surgeons believed that carbolic acid did not work as an antiseptic.
One of the main reasons why these changes occurred was technology and the speed with which it advanced during the nineteenth century. Technology and science had always played an important part in the study of medicine but it was only in the nineteenth century that technology had become sufficiently advanced to allow doctors to research in more depth about the causes of diseases. coda dar sedadaw orda dak inda foda da. The microscope had been invented in the seventeenth century but it was a comparatively primitive piece of equipment.
In the nineteenth century, Joseph Lister, the father of the famous doctor, solved the problem of microscopes and invented one that could magnify up to a thousand times without distortion. Scientists could finally examine micro-organisms properly. Surprisingly, scientific thinking had not changed much since Hippocrates. The technology had improved, doctors knew more about what caused diseases, some micro-organisms had been identified but the way that people discovered new things was the same. The scientist started with observation, then careful reasoning and then checked their theory.
In the nineteenth century, doctors recorded their measurements precisely and they checked their theory with carefully designed apparatus but the ideas remained similar. cogg ggr seggggw orgg ggk ingg fogg gg. The hospitals had become cleaner and death from infection became infrequent, thanks to people like Semmelweiss and Lister, operations were not painful because anaesthetics had been invented. The coming of electricity in the late nineteenth century meant that more complicated machines could be invented such as the x-ray machine.
Medicine had always relied on other technologies and sciences; in prehistoric times the skill of trephining depended on the ability to make sharp enough knives. It is still the same today but the circumstances and the technologies needed are different. There were a number of factors that influenced the changes in medicine in this period, both indirectly and directly. The indirect changes were socio-economic factors, such as the Industrial Revolution and direct factors like the discovery of the germ theory by Louis Pasteur.
They both contributed to the vast changes in medicine during the nineteenth century and changed the way people thought about medicine. More people had a general knowledge of illnesses and there were more trained doctors. Health had improved and the majority of the towns had become more hygienic in the past century; the average age of death had risen and people worked in safer factories. cogd Louis Pasteur developed the germ theory in 1867; his work was to do with the link between germs and disease. This was very beneficial knowledge, it allowed others to go on and develop his theory.
From this Robert Koch later discovered how each germ caused a specific disease. cofe fer sefefew orfe fek infe fofe fe: Also from Pasteur’s theory came the use of antiseptics. After cleaning the wound of an 11 year old boy and covering it in a dressing of carbolic acid, he decided that it must have killed the germs because the boy had survived and did not suffer from infection. This was very significant because it meant that surgery could be carried out without the constant fear of the patient dieing from infection. cofc fcr sefcfcw orfc fck infc fofc fc;
During the 20th century the medical knowledge and understanding moved on at a much greater pace, many more break-throughs were occurring in the field of medicine which meant more lives were being saved. New techniques meant that surgery could be performed much more safely and regularly without the constant risk of death. The introduction of the National Health Service provides people with access to medicine and health care. Although medical advances are still being made rapidly, not all medical problems have been solved. AIDs still remains a life threatening illness with no known cure.
The completion of this essay shows that throughout the past 3000 years there have been many bursts of progress, however there have also been some periods of regression (for example 400-500AD). Progress was slow until about 1400AD. Things seemed to get much better as religion declined as a big influence on people’s lives. Technology, science and education have all been factors influencing the rate of change in medicine. However overall the pace of progression has become more rapid. Medical progress changes as attitudes change, which predicts that there will be many more advances in the field of medicine in the near future.