Dr. Minot in his lecture last night, entered at once upon the topic of Hygiene, and occupied an hour in an attractive and systematic exposition of the subject. The first thing that should be considered is the matter of ventilation, drainage, and position of our houses. Especially necessary is good drainage, as most cases of typhoid fever and diphtheria can be traced to defects in this. Bed-rooms and studies should be provided with open fire-places, as all other methods of heating are open to serious objection. Furnace heat raises the air far above a healthful temperature, besides robbing it of a large proportion of its oxygen.
With regard to the care of the person, bathing is a matter of the greatest importance. A sponge bath daily, either cold or tepid, may be considered as a necessity. Hot baths every day are extremely debilitating and otherwise injurious. The clothing should be adapted to the person, one in the open air much, requiring less than an individual of sedentary habits. The tendency is to wear too much clothing. We are much better off than our grandfathers in the matter of fabrics adapted to changes in weather. Gauzes and light-woolens take the place of stiff linen and cotton clothing of half a century ago. The neck should be exposed to the air, otherwise sore throat and catarrh will ensue. Overcoats should be light as possible. Head coverings should be looked to far more than they are at present. Ought to be light and cool, even in severe weather, and must not bind the head.
The average amount of sleep required by adults is 7 1-2 hours. Young people need more. All persons after severe mental or physical effort require extra sleep. Too much sleep is injurious, and must be gauged according to the individual. Ventilation is of vital importance in sleeping-rooms, as the maximum amount of carbonic dioxide that air can contain without fatal results is 1-1,000, and in one night we inhale about five cubic feet of this poisonous gas.
Food should be well cooked and wholesome. Because it is well served is no reason for supposing that it is injurious. Nature has made us with different tastes and powers of digestion. It is well not to be too watchful lest we become hypochondriacs. Tea and coffee should not be taken in excess. Alcohol, on account of its disturbing effect on the digestion, should be used sparingly, especially by young people.
Dr. Minot urged the necessity of regular open-air exercise, and gave peculiar emphasis to this, especially as a preventive of consumption. Symptoms of coming disease are hard to interpret, general wasting being a sign of chronic affections; fever, severe chill or vomiting are the accompaniments of many of the more acute diseases. The lecturer closed with short directions to those who are in any way exposed to the disease, pulmonary consumption. His directions here were simply to live in obedience to the laws of hygiene, being much in the open air and not subjecting the system to protracted exertion.