Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Asthma, a term loosely applied in common parlance to almost any form of chest affection. In its correct use the word should be employed to designate a peculiar spasmodic affection of the bronchial tubes leading to recurring paroxysms of distress and laboured breathing. True spasmodic asthma is frequently hereditary, and is curiously dependent upon certain exciting causes, such as certain smells, the consumption of particular articles of food, and especially the influence of locality. Many asthmatics can only live in large towns; nay, sometimes they breathe in comfort in one particular part of a town, while their removal to some closely neighbouring spot is attended by the development of an asthmatic attack. During a paroxysm the distress is intense, the chest is expanded, and even the most powerful efforts of the muscles seem unable to promote that interchange of air which is necessary for the due aeration of the blood. The attack commonly lasts two or three days, and in young people recovery is rapid, but in old subjects of the disease organic changes are apt to develop in the lungs, making convalescence more prolonged. The occurrence of death in a seizure of uncomplicated asthma is practically unknown; nevertheless the symptoms are exceedingly distressing and alarming while the paroxysm lasts. Much can be done in the way of lengthening the intervals between the seizures by adopting hygienic precautions, by the suitable choice of locality to live in, and by avoiding all those digestive and other troubles which are so apt to induce an attack.