Fevers and shaved heads
Posted by Captain Everett on September 01, 1998 at 23:05:28:
In response to Heads Up, written by Ken on August 31, 1998 at 07:47:38
Like several other respondants to this thread, I too have a vague recollection about shaving the head of a person smitten by fevers. Like the other, I am unable to recall where I read it, or what the exact context was.
However, I did find a mention in relation to "remitting" or "Lake Fever." Of hand I don't know what it's modern equivelant was, it wasn't malaria (intermittant fever), but was likely one of those contracted by drinking water contaminated by bacteria, etc. First course of treatment was "depletion", i.e. bleeding. When there was great "determination" (whatever that meant) to the head, "much benefit was obtained by opening of the temporal artery." Might the headshaving preceed this operation? Purgatives, when the stomach was not too irritable, were also prescribed. "When delirium or comma supervened, blisters were applied to the head, and calomel, combined with Jame's powder, was given in such quantities as might affect the mouth." John Douglas, Medical Topography of Upper Canada (1819)
On a side issue, trepanning seems to have been a relatively common operation. Slightly further off topic was what was once known as "combat fatigue" or "shell shock." It is interesting to notice that while it was expected in the Gulf War, and recognized in wars of this century, there is much less in prior conflicts. Occassionly one does find references to the condition in veterans of the American Civil War (or whichever name you like to apply to it), but almost never from the Napoleonic conflict, in diaries, stories, etc. It was recognized by medical personnel from the period. They saw men with out any injuries, yet behaving as if they had suffered a severe blow to the head. They reasoned that the air pressure of passing cannon balls was the cause. Off topic, but I thought it might be of interest.
I remain, etc.
- fever conditions P. Bingham 03:46:06 9/02/98 (0)
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