View Full Version : 1899 Medical Stuff?

10-19-2009, 03:48 AM
Hey there, I'm working on a story set in 1899/1900. I have a seventeen year old character with pneumonia. I just wanna know what wound be done in the situation - any medication or form of treatment or anything. Chances of survival and all that stuff.


10-19-2009, 07:53 AM
I don't know if people doctors and horse doctors followed much the same course of treatment at the time. I have an 1861 printing of the Illustrated Horse Doctor which advises giving a drink made of aconite root, sulphuric ether, extract of belladonna, and water, thrice daily. They advise against taking more than 1 pint of blood in this instance, even though bleeding is considered a good way to rid the body of disease.

Tsu Dho Nimh
10-19-2009, 07:01 PM
How sick do you want him to be?

And where is the plot happening? City, farm? wilderness?

10-19-2009, 07:39 PM



Here are a few I found.

10-19-2009, 08:01 PM
From a book in 1891 (http://books.google.com/books?id=p8hXAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA23&lpg=PA23&dq=pneumonia+%2B+mustard+plaster&source=bl&ots=HVt1PtTifW&sig=DpmTlRj6YIxq_uoUEiqgCY509Lg&hl=en&ei=WIncSpa9M8G1lAfYjJmhAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CCMQ6AEwBw) on Google Books. There was widespread use of the "mustard plaster" for respiratory illnesses. You can use Google to look up mustard plaster. (Do not ever try to make or use a mustard plaster!)

Really there was no effective treatment until the antibiotic era. I believe that sulfa was available before WWII, but bugs became resistant to it very quickly. Penicillin was developed in WWII and began to be used widely after the war. Since it was extremely effective against the pneumococcus, a common cause of bacterial pneumonia, mortality from pneumonia dropped significantly.

Most healthy people recovered from pneumonia even in the pre-antibiotic era.

10-20-2009, 03:24 PM
Pneumonia was one of the major killers in that time period - for the previously healthy as well as the infirm. There were no drugs to fight it. Mustard plasters, an onion poultice applied to the chest, and general fever fighting tactics.

In researching a local history story, I found an account of a young, healthy prominent man died in our community in 1905 after a long - about six week bout - with pneumonia. Most of the tactics used in an effort to save him sound like torture. If I can find the account - which ended up being part of his obit - I'll come back and post it later today.