Civics and Health
by William H. Allen
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

The features in the following cut are familiar to teachers the world over. Parents may reconcile themselves to such lips, eyes, and mouths, but seldom do even neglectful parents fail to notice "mouth breathing." Children afflicted by such features suffer torment from playfellows whose scornful epithets are echoed by the looking-glass. No fashion plate ever portrays such faces. No athlete, thinker, or hero looks out from printed page with such clouded, listless eyes. The more wonder, therefore, that the meaning of these outward signs has not been appreciated and their causes removed; conclusive reason, also, for not being misled by recent talk of mouth breathing, adenoids, and enlarged tonsils, into the belief that the race is physically deteriorating. Three generations ago Charles Dickens in his Uncommercial Traveller pointed out a relation between open mouths and backwardness and delinquency that would have saved millions of dollars and millions of life failures had the civilized world listened. He was speaking of delinquent girls from seventeen to twenty years old in Wapping Workhouse: "I have never yet ascertained why a refractory habit should affect the tonsils and the uvula; but I have always observed that refractories of both sexes and every grade, between a Ragged School and the Old Bailey, have one voice, in which the tonsils and uvula gain a diseased ascendency."

To-day we are just beginning to see over again the connection between inability to breathe through the nose and inability to see clearly right from wrong and inability to want to do what teachers and parents wish. Physical examinations show now, and might just as well have shown fifty years ago, that the great majority of truants and juvenile offenders have adenoids and enlarged tonsils. A recent examination made by the New York board of health on 150 children in one school made up from the truant school, the juvenile court, and Randall's Island, showed that only three were without some physical defect and that 137 had adenoids and large tonsils. Dickens wrote his observations in 1860; in 1854 the New York Juvenile Asylum was started, and up to 1908 cared for 40,000 children; in 1860 William Meyer pointed out, so that no one need misunderstand, the harmful effects of adenoids. What would have been the story of juvenile waywardness, of sickness, of educational advancement, had examinations for defective breathing been started in 1853 or 1860 instead of 1905; if one per cent of the attention that has been given to teaching mouth breathers the ten commandments had been spent on removing the nasal obstructions to intelligence?

William Hegel, who is pictured on page 48, before his tonsils and adenoids were removed was described by his father in this way: "When playing with other boys on the street he seems dazed, and sluggish to grasp the various situations occurring in the course of the game. When he decides to do something he runs in a heedless, senseless way, as if running away,—will bump against something, pedestrian or building, before he comes to himself; seems dazed all the time. When told something by his mother he giggles in the most exasperating way, for which he receives a whipping quite often." The father said the whipping was of no avail. The child was restless, talkative, and snored during sleep. He had an insatiable appetite. He was removed or transferred from five different schools in New York City. To get redress the father took him to the board of education, whence he was referred to the assistant chief medical inspector of the department of health, whose examination revealed immensely large fungous-looking tonsils and excessive pharyngeal granulations (adenoids). He was operated on at a clinic. The tonsils and adenoids removed are pictured on the opposite page, reduced one third. After the operation the child was visited by the assistant medical inspector. There was a marked improvement in his facial expression,—he looked intelligent, was alert and interested. When asked how he felt, he answered, "I feel fine now." It required about fifteen minutes to get his history, during all of which time he was responsive and interested, constantly correcting statements of his father and volunteering other information. Eleven days after the operation he was reported to have had no more epileptic seizures. "Doesn't talk in sleep. Doesn't snore. Doesn't toss about the bed. Has more self-control. Tries to read the paper. His immoderate appetite is not present."

While the open mouth is a sure sign of defects of breathing, it is not true that the closed mouth, when awake and with other people, is proof that there are no such defects. Children breathe through the mouth not because they like to, not because they have drifted into bad habits, not because their parents did, not because the human race is deteriorating, but because their noses are stopped up,—because they must. A mouth breather is not only always taking unfiltered dirt germs into his system but is always in the condition of a person who has slept in a stuffy room. What extra effort adenoids mean can be ascertained by closing the nostrils for a forenoon.

For many reasons it is perhaps unfortunate that we can breathe at all when the nose is stopped up. If we could see with our ears as well as with our eyes, we should probably not take as good care of our eyes. In this respect the whole race has experienced the misfortune of the man of whom the coroner reported, "Killed by falling too short a distance." Because we can breathe through the mouth we have neglected for centuries the nasal passages. When a cold stops the nose we necessarily breathe through the mouth. Unfortunately children make the necessary effort required to breathe through the nose long before other people notice the lines along the nose and the slow mind. Mouth breathing will show with the child asleep, before the child awake loses power to accommodate his effort to the task. Therefore the importance of a physical test at school to detect the beginnings of adenoids and large tonsils before these symptoms become obvious to others.

No child should be exempted from this examination because of apocryphal theories that only the poor, the slum child, the refractory, or the unclean have defects in breathing. This very afternoon a friend has told me of her year abroad with a girl of nine, whose parents are very wealthy. The girl is anaemic. Her backwardness humiliates her parents, especially because she gave great promise until two years ago. High-priced physicians have prescribed for her. It happens that they are too eminent to give attention to such simple troubles as adenoids that can be felt and seen. They are looking for complications of the liver or inflammation of muscles at the base of the brain. One celebrated French savant found the adenoids, assured the mother that the child would outgrow them, and advised merely that she be compelled to breathe through the nose. The mother and nursemaids nag the child all day. The poor unwise mother sits up nights to hold the child's jaws tight in the hope that air coming through the nose will absorb the adenoids. The mother is made nervous. Of course this makes the child more nervous and adds to the evil effects of adenoids. If the mother had the good fortune to be very poor, she could not sit up nights, and would long ago have decided either to let the child alone or else to have the trouble removed.

Adenoids are not a city specialty. Country earache is largely due to adenoids or to inflammation that quickly leads to adenoids. In 415 villages of New York state twelve per cent were found to be mouth breathers. For two summers I have known a lad named Fred. He lives at the seashore. Throughout his twelve years he has lived in a veritable El Dorado of health and nature beauty. Groves and dunes and flora vie with the blues of ocean and sky in resting the eye and in filling the soul with that harmony which is said to make for sound living. Yet to a child, Fred's schoolmates are experts on patent medicines and on the heredity that is alleged to be responsible for bad temper, running sores, tuberculosis, anaemia, and weak eyes. Freddie is particularly favored. His well-to-do parents have supplied him with ponies, games, and bicycles. Nothing prevents his breathing salt air fresh from the north pole but hermetically sealed windows. The father thinks it absurd to make a fuss over adenoids. Didn't he have them when a boy, and doesn't he weigh two hundred pounds and "make good money"? The mother never knew of operations for such trifles when she taught school; she supposes her boy needs an operation, but "just can't bear to see the dear child hurt." As for Fred, he breathes through his mouth, talks through his nose, grows indifferent to boy's fun, fails to earn promotion at school, and fears that "I won't be strong in spite of all the patent medicine I've taken." Father, mother, and Fred feel profound pity for the city child living so far from nature.

Adenoids are not monopolized by children whose parents are ignorant of the importance of them and of physical examination. Last summer I was asked by a small boy to buy some chocolate. A glance at his cigar box with its two or three uninviting things for sale showed that the boy was really begging. He had thick lips, open mouth, "misty" eyes, and a nasal twang. I asked him if his teacher had not told him he had lumps back of his nose and could not breathe right. He said, "No." I explained then that he could make a great deal more money if he talked like other boys, stepped livelier, and breathed as other people breathe. He said he had "been by a doctor onct but didn't want to be op'rated." I turned to my companion and asked, "Have you never noted those same lines on your boy's face?" Although he had been lecturing on mouth breathers, he had never noticed his own boy's trouble. He hastened home and found the infallible signs. The mother declared it could not be true of her boy. About five months before, their family physician had said of the child's earache, "The same inflammation of the nasal passages that causes earache causes adenoids; you must be on the lookout." Although in the country, the boy's appetite was not good and his zest for play had flagged. They had looked for the trouble to back generations and in psychology books,—everywhere but at the boy's face, in his mouth, and in his nose. After the operation, which took less than two minutes, the appetite was ravenous, the eyes cleared, and the spirit rebounded to its old buoyancy that craved worlds to conquer.

The new personal experience made a deep impression upon my friend's mind. He wanted everybody to know how easy it was to overlook a child's distress. One person after another had a story to tell him; even the janitor said: "You'd ought to have seen our John at sixteen. He spent a week by the hospital." The only people who do not seem to know more than the new convert are the mouth breathers whom he religiously stops on the street.

The indexes to adenoids and large tonsils for the teacher to read at school are:

1. Inability to breathe through the nose.

2. A chronically running nose, accompanied by frequent nose-bleeds and a cough to clear the throat.

3. Stuffy speech and delayed learning to talk. "Common" is pronounced "cobbed"; "nose," "dose"; and "song," "sogg."

4. A narrow upper jaw and irregular crowding of the teeth.

5. Deafness.

6. Chorea or nervousness.

7. Inflamed eyes and conjunctivitis.

The adenoids and large tonsils discovered at school are an index:

1. To children needlessly handicapped in school work.

2. To teachers needlessly burdened.

3. To whole classes held back by afflicted children.

4. To breeding grounds for disease.

5. To homes where children's diseases and tuberculosis are most likely to break out and flourish.

6. To parents who need instruction in their duty to their children, to themselves, and to their neighbors, and who are ignorant of the way in which "catching" diseases originate and spread.

The riot that occurred when the adenoids of children in a school on the "East Side" in New York City were removed without the preliminary of convincing the parents as to the advantages of the operation was merely a demand for the "right to knowledge," which is never overlooked with impunity. Reluctance to permit operation on a young child, and the natural shrinking of a parent at seeing a child under the surgeon's knife, require the teacher or school physician or nurse to answer fully the usual questions of the hesitant mother and father.

1. Is the operation necessary? Will the child not outgrow its adenoids? Usually the adenoid growths atrophy or dry up after the age of puberty. Adenoids are not uncommon in adults, however. The surgeon general of the army reports that during the year 1905, out of 3004 operations on officers and enlisted men in service, there were 225 operations on the nose, mouth, and pharynx, 103 of which were operations for adenoids and enlarged or hypertrophied tonsils. Allowing the child to "outgrow" adenoids may mean not only that he is being subjected to infection chronically but that his body is allowed to be permanently deformed and his health endangered. Beginning at the age of the second dentition, the bones of jaw, nose, throat, and chest are undergoing important changes—nasal occlusion. Adenoids left to atrophy—if large enough to cause mouth breathing—may mean atrophy of this developing process, permanent disfiguration of face, and permanent deformity of chest and lungs.

2. Will the growth recur? In a few cases it does recur; frequently either because it was not desirable to make a complete removal of the adenoid tissue or because the surgeon was careless. If the growths do recur, then they must be removed again.

3. Is the operation a dangerous one?

4. Is an anaesthetic necessary?

5. Will the operation cure the child of all its troubles? These questions are best answered by the process and results of an "adenoid party," which was given especially for the benefit of this book, every step and symptom of which were carefully studied.

The seven children pictured here were discovered by their school physician to have moderately large adenoid growths,—one boy having enlarged tonsils also.

The picture on page 46 was taken by flash light at 2.30 P.M., January 15, 1908. At 3 P.M. the principal escorted these children into the operating room at Vanderbilt Clinic. The doctor examined the throat and nose of each child, entered the name and age of each, together with his diagnosis, on a clinic card, sending each child into the next room after examination. He then called the first boy and explained that it would hurt, but that it would be over in a minute. The principal stood by and told him to be brave and remember the five cents he could have for ice cream afterwards. The clinic nurse tied a large towel about him and put him in her lap; with one hand she held his clasped hands, while the other held his head back. The doctor then took the little instrument—the curette—and pushed it up back of the soft palate, and with one twist brought out the offending spongy lump. The boy's head was immediately held over a basin of running water. He was so occupied with spitting out the blood that rushed down to choke him that he hadn't time to cry before the acute pain had ceased. The rush of cool air through his nostrils was such a pleasurable sensation that he smiled as the school nurse escorted him out into the hall to wait for his companions. At 3.30 P.M. all seven children were out in the hall, all seven mouths were closed, and all seven faces were clothed with the sleepy, peaceful expression that comes with rest from the prolonged labor of trying to get enough air. At 3.45 P.M. they had been all reexamined by the doctor, and a few tag ends were picked out of the nasopharynx of one child. At 4 P.M. the "party" had returned to the Children's Aid Society's school and to the ice cream that follows each adenoid party.

It is worth while to tell mothers stories of the "marvelous improvement in school progress of those children whose brains have been poisoned and starved by the accursed adenoid growths, and how their bodies fairly bloom when the mysterious and awful incubus is removed," to use the words of one school principal. It is worth while to show them "before" and "after" pictures, and "before" and "after" children, and "before" and "after" school marks.



Deadly fevers, the plague, black death, cholera, malaria, smallpox, taught mankind invaluable lessons. Millions of human beings died before the mind of man devoted itself to preventing the diseases for which no sure cure had been found. Efforts to conquer these diseases were tardy because men were taught that some unseen power was punishing men and governments for their sins. The difference between the old and the new way is shown powerfully by a painting in the Liverpool Gallery entitled "The Plague." A mediaeval village is strewn with the dead and dying. Bloated, spotted faces look into the eyes of ghouls as laces and jewelry are torn from bodies not yet cold. In the foreground a muscular giant, paragon of conscious virtue, clad like John the Baptist and Bible in hand, finds his way among his plague-stricken fellow-townsmen, urging them to turn from their sins. Modern efficiency learns of the first outbreak of the plague, isolates the patient, kills rats and their fleas which spread the disease, thoroughly cleanses or destroys, if necessary, all infected clothing, bedding, floors, and walls, and makes it possible for us to go on living for each other with a better chance of "bringing forth fruits worthy for repentance."

Where boards of health make it compulsory to report cases of sickness due to contagion, health records are a reliable index to "catching" diseases. But now that the chief infection is the kind that afflicts children, we can read the index before the outbreak that calls in a physician to diagnose the case. School examination shows which children have defects that welcome and encourage disease germs. It points to homes that cultivate germs, and consequently menace other homes. To locate children who have enlarged tonsils may prevent a diphtheria epidemic. To detect in September those who are undernourished, who have bad teeth, and who breathe through the mouth will help forecast winter's outbreaks of scarlet fever and measles. One dollar spent at this season in examination for soil hospitable to disease germs may save fifty dollars otherwise necessary for inspection and cure of contagious diseases.

It is harder at first to interest a community in medical examination than in medical inspection, because we are all afraid of "catching" diseases, while few of us know how they originate and how they can be prevented by correcting the unfavorable conditions which physical examination of school children will bring to light.

Courses in germ sociology are therefore of prime necessity. How do germs act? On what do they live? Why do they move from place to place? What causes them to become extinct? With few exceptions, germs migrate for the same reason as man,—search for food, love of conquest, and love of adventure. When there is plenty of food they multiply rapidly. Full of life, overflowing with vitality, they move out for new worlds to conquer. Like human beings, they will do their best to get away from a country that provides a scanty food supply. Like men and women, they starve if they cannot eat. Like boys and girls, they avoid enemies; the weak give way to the strong, the slow to the swift, the devitalized to the vitalized.

Human sociology imprisons, puts to death, deprives of opportunity to do evil, or reforms those who murder, steal, or slander. Germ sociology teaches us to do the same with injurious germs. We imprison them, we take away their food supply, we kill them outright, or we starve them slowly. They have a peculiar diet, being especially partial to decomposing vegetable and animal matter and to what human beings call dirt. By putting this diet out of their reach we make it impossible for them to propagate their kind. By placing poison within their reach or by forcing it upon them we can successfully eliminate them as enemies. As the president of Mexico restored order "by setting a thief to catch a thief," so modern science is setting germs to kill germs that harm crops and human stock. Of utmost consequence is it that the body's germ consumer—its pretorian guard—be always armed with vitality ready to vanquish every intruding hostile germ. If we are false to our guard, it will turn traitor and join invaders in attacking us. But here, as in dealing with evils that originate with human beings, an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure. The most effectual way to eliminate germ diseases is to remove the cause—the food supply of disease germs. The fact that many germs are plants, not animals, does not weaken the analogy, for weeds do not get a chance in well-tilled soil.

Perhaps the most notable recent example of government germ extermination is the triumph over the yellow-fever and malaria mosquito in Panama. When the French started to build a canal in Panama, the first thing they did was to build a hospital. The hospital was always full and the canal was given up. At the time the United States proposed to re-attempt the work, it was thought that it could not be done without great loss of life and without great labor difficulties. Instead of taking the sickness for granted and enlarging the French hospital, the chief medical inspector, Gorgas, took for granted that there need be no unusual sickness if proper preventive measures were taken. He knew what the French had not known, that the yellow-fever scourge depends for its terrors upon mosquitoes. Accordingly, with the aid of six thousand men and five million dollars he set about to starve out the few infected and infectious kinds of mosquito,—the yellow-fever or house mosquito and the malaria or meadow mosquito. He introduced waterworks and hydrants, paved the streets, drained the swamps and pools in which they breed, and instituted a weekly house-to-house inspection to prevent even so much as a pail of stagnant water offering harbor to these enemies. The grass of the meadows where the malaria mosquito breeds was cut short and kept short within three hundred feet of dwellers,—as far as the mosquito can fly. All ditches were disinfected with paraffin, and the natives were forced to observe sanitary laws. President Roosevelt, in his special message to Congress on the Panama Canal in 1906, stated that in the weekly house-to-house visit of the inspectors at the time he was in Panama but two mosquitoes were found. These were not of the dangerous type. As a consequence of this sanitary engineering there is very little sickness in Panama, the hospital is seldom one third full, and the canal is progressing very much faster than was expected. Panama, like Havana, is now safer than many American cities, because cleaner and less hospitable to disease germs.

Any place where numbers of people are accustomed to assemble favors the propagation of germs,—whether it be the meetinghouse, the townhall, the theater, or the school. Every teacher can be the sanitary engineer of her own schoolroom, school, or community by cooeperating with the school doctor, the town board of health, family physicians, and mothers. Every teacher can exterminate disease by applying the very same principles to her schoolroom as Chief Medical Inspector Gorgas applied to Panama. Knowledge, disinfection, absolute cleanliness, education, and inspection are the essential steps. First she must know that "children's diseases" are not necessary. She should discountenance the old superstition that every child must run the gamut of children's diseases, that every child must sooner or later have whooping cough, measles, chicken pox, mumps, scarlet fever, just as they used to think yellow fever and cholera inevitable. The price of this terrible ignorance has been not only expense, loss of time, acquisition of permanent physical defects, and loss of vitality, but, for the majority of children, death before reaching five years of age. All these "catching" diseases are germ diseases, which disinfection can eliminate. The free use of strong yellow soap and disinfectants on the school floor, windows, benches, desks, blackboards, pencils, in the coat closets and toilets, plus the natural disinfectants, hot sun and oxygen, will prevent the schoolroom from being a source of danger. One or more of these germ-killing remedies must be constantly applied; cleansing deserves a larger part in every school budget.

Often country towns are as ignorant of the existence of germs and of the means of preventing the spread of disease as the woman in a small country town who used daily to astound the neighbors by the "shower of snow" she produced by shaking the bedding of her sick child out of the window. Their astonishment was soon changed to panic when that shower of snow resulted in a deadly epidemic of scarlet fever. Medical inspection of New York City's schools was begun after an epidemic of scarlet fever was traced to a popular boy who passed around among his schoolmates long rolls of skin from his fingers.

Much of the care exercised at school to prevent children's diseases is counteracted because children are exposed at home and in public places to contagion, where ignorance more often than carelessness is the cause of uncleanliness. By hygiene lessons, illustrating practically the proper methods of cleaning a room, much may be done to enlist school children in the battle against germs. Through the enthusiasm of the children as well as through visits to the homes parents may be instructed as to the danger of letting well children sleep with sick children; the wisdom of vaccination to prevent smallpox, of antitoxin to prevent serious diphtheria, of tuberculin tests to settle the question whether tuberculosis is present; why anything that gathers dust is dangerous unless cleansed and aired properly; and why bedding, furniture, floor coverings, and curtains that can be cleansed and aired are more beautiful and more safe than carpets, feather beds, upholstery, and curtains that are spoiled by water and sunshine; how to care for the tuberculous member of the family, etc. Anti-social acts may be prevented, such as carrying an infected child to the doctor in a public conveyance, thereby infecting numberless other people; sending infected linen to a common laundry; mailing a letter written by an infected person without first disinfecting it; sending a child with diphtheria to the store; returning to the dairy unscalded milk bottles from a sick room.

The daily inspection of school children for contagious diseases by the school physician has, where tried, been found to reduce considerably the amount of sickness in a town. Such inspection should be universally adopted. Moreover, the teacher should be conversant with the early symptoms of these diseases so that on the slightest suspicion the child may be sent home without waiting for the physician's call. Like the little girl who never stuttered except when she talked, school children and school-teachers are rarely frightened until too late to prevent trouble. The "easy" diseases such as measles, whooping cough, etc., cost our communities more than the more terrible diseases like typhoid and smallpox. During one typical week ending May 18, 630 new cases of measles were reported to one department of health. Obviously the nineteen deaths reported give no conception of the suffering, the cost, the anxiety caused by this preventable disease. The same may be said of diphtheria and croup, of which only thirty-two deaths are reported, but 306 cases of sickness. Yet no one to-day will send a child to sleep with a playmate so as to catch diphtheria and "be done with it."

The most strategic point of attack is almost universally unrecognized. That is the child's mouth. Here the germs find lodgment, here they find a culture medium—at the gateway of the human system. The mouth is never out of service and is almost never in a state of true cleanliness. Solid particles from the breath, saliva, food between the teeth, and other debris form a deposit on the teeth and decompose in a constant temperature of ninety-eight degrees Fahrenheit. In the normal mouth from eight to twenty years of age the teeth present from twenty to thirty square inches of dentate surface, constantly exposed to ever-changing, often inimical, conditions. This bacterially infected surface makes a fairly large garden plot. Every cavity adds to the germ-nourishing soil. Dental caries—tooth decay—is a disease hitherto almost universal from birth to death. Thus the air taken in through the mouth becomes a purveyor of its poisonous emanations and affects the lung tissues and the blood. Food and water carry hostile germs down into the stomach. Thence they may be carried into any organ or tissue, just as nourishment or poison is carried.

Moreover, the child with an unclean mouth not only infects and reinfects himself but scatters germs in the air whenever he sneezes or coughs. In a cold apartment where there is no appreciable current of air a person can scatter germs for a distance of more than twenty-two feet. Germs are also scattered through the air by means of salivary or mucous droplets. It is this fact that makes colds so dangerous.


City of Manchester Education Committee


Four columns are omitted: (1) Interval between Exposure to Infection and the First Signs of the Disease; (2) Day from Onset of Illness on which Rash appears; (3) Period of Exclusion from School after Exposure to Infection; (4) Period of Exclusion from School of Person suffering from the Disease

-+ + + DISEASE PRINCIPAL SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS Method of REMARKS Infection -+ + + Measles Begins like cold in the After effects head, with feverishness, often severe. running nose, inflamed and Period of greatest watery eyes, and sneezing; risk of infection small crescentic groups of Breath and first three or mulberry-tinted spots appear discharges four days, before about the third day; rash from nose the rash appears. first seen on forehead and and mouth. May have repeated face. The rash varies with attacks. Great heat; may almost disappear if variation in type the air is cold, and come out of disease. again with warmth. -+ + + German Illness usually slight. Onset Measles sudden. Rash often first thing noticed; no cold in Breath and head. Usually have discharges After effects feverishness and sore from nose slight. throat, and the eyes may and mouth be inflamed. Rash something between Measles and Scarlet Fever, variable. -+ + + Chicken Sometimes begins with When children Pox feverishness, but is usually return, examine very mild and without sign head for of fever. Rash appears on overlooked spots. second day as small pimples, All spots should which in about a day become have disappeared filled with clear fluid. Breath and before child This fluid then becomes crust of returns. A mild matter, and then the spot spots. disease and dries upand the crust falls seldom any after off. effects. May have successive crops of of rash until tenth day. -+ + + Whooping Begins like cold in the After effects Cough head, with bronchitis and often very severe sore throat, and a cough and the disease which is worse at night. Breath and causes great Symptoms may at first be very discharges debility. Relapses mild. Characteristic from nose are apt to occur. "whooping" cough develops and mouth. Second attack in about a fortnight, and the rare. Specially spasm of coughing often ends infectious for with vomiting. first week or two. If a child is sick after a bout of coughing, it is most probably suffering from whooping cough. Great variation in type of disease. -+ + + Mumps Onset may be sudden, beginning with sickness and fever, and pain about the angle of the Breath and Seldom leaves jaw. The glands become discharges after effects. swollen and tender, and the from nose Very infectious. jaws stiff, and the saliva and mouth. sticky. -+ + + Scarlet The onset is usually sudden, Breath, Dangerous both Fever or with headache, languor, discharges during attack and Scarlatina feverishness, sore throat, from nose from after effects. and often the child is sick. and mouth, Great variation Usually within twenty-four particles in type of disease. hours the rash appears, and of skin, Slight attacks is finely spotted, evenly and as infectious as diffused, and bright red. discharges severe ones. Many The rash is seen first on from mild cases not the neck and upper part of suppuratory diagnosed and many chest, and lasts three to glands or concealed. The ten days, when it fades and ears. Milk peeling may last the skin peels in scales, specially six to eight weeks. flakes, or even large apt to A second attack is pieces. The tongue becomes convey rare. When scarlet whitish, with bright red infection. fever is occurring spots. The eyes are not watery in a school, all or congested. cases of sore throat should be sent home. -+ + + - Diphtheria Onset insidious, may be rapid Breath and Very dangerous or gradual. Typically sore discharges both during attack throat, great weakness, and from nose, and from after swelling of glands in the mouth, and effects. When neck, about the angle of the ears. diphtheria is jaw. The back of the throat, occurring in a tonsils, or palate may show school all children patches like pieces of suffering from sore yellowish-white kid. The most throat should be pronounced symptom is great excluded. There is debility and lassitude, and great variation of there may be little else type, and mild noticeable. There may be cases are often not hardly any symptoms at all. recognized but are as infectious as severe cases. There is no immunity from further attacks. Fact of existence of disease sometimes concealed. -+ + + - Influenza Begins with feverishness, Breath and Excessively pain in head, back, and discharges infectious. After limbs, and usually cold in from nose effects often very the head. and mouth. serious and accompanied with great prostration and nervous debility. -+ + + Smallpox The illness is usually well Breath, Peculiarly marked and the onset rather all infectious. When sudden, with feverishness, discharges, smallpox occurs in severe backache, and and connection with a sickness. About third day particles school or with any a red rash of shotlike of skin of the children's pimples, felt below the skin, or scabs. homes, an endeavor and seen first about the should be made to face and wrists. Spots have all persons develop in two days, then over seven years form little blisters, and of age in other two days become revaccinated. yellowish and filled with matter. Scabs then form, Cases of modified and these fall off about smallpox in the fourteenth day. vaccinated persons may be, and often are, so slight as to escape detection. Fact of existence of disease may be concealed. Mild or modified smallpox as infectious as severe type. -+ + + - In the following diseases only the affected child is excluded

Erysipelas. Child should not Ringworm on Scalp. Child should return till all swelling and be excluded till cured. Very peeling of skin has disappeared. difficult to cure and often takes a very long time. Ophthalmia. Child should not return till all traces have Phthisis (Consumption). If in disappeared. advanced stage and coughing much or spitting, child should be Scabies or Itch. Child should be excluded. (Infection from breath excluded until cured. and dried spit floating in the air as dust.) Ringworm on Skin. Child should be excluded till cured. This takes Impetigo (Contagious Sore). only a few days if properly Child should be excluded until treated. cured. A week or ten days should suffice.

A. BROWN RITCHIE, Medical Officer to Education Committee.

Most people still think that colds are due to cold air or draughts rather than to a cold germ, which finds a body unequipped with resisting power, with its germ police off guard, exhausted from overwork, or disaffected and ready to turn traitor if the enemy seems stronger than our vitality. Sometimes it seems as if we contracted it from a sneezing fellow-passenger, sometimes from a draught from an open car window. An uninformed opponent of the theory that colds are a germ disease wrote the following letter last winter to a New York newspaper:

In addition to the Society for the Suppression of Noises there should be in this town a Society for the Suppression of "Fresh-Air" Fiends. The newspapers report an epidemic of pneumonia, grippe, and colds. It is almost entirely due to the fact that the average New Yorker is compelled to live, move, and have his being from daylight to midnight in a succession of draughts of cold air caused by the insanity of overfed male and female hogs, who, with blood almost bursting through their skins, demand "fresh air" in order to keep from suffocating. Everywhere a man goes, day or night, he is in a draught caused by the crazy ideas about fresh air.

Our wise ancestors, who as a rule lived much longer than we do, and had much better health, said:

"If the wind should blow through a hole, God have mercy on your soul."

After the correspondent has learned that our ancestors had more colds than we, had poorer health, and died twenty years younger, perhaps he will listen to proof that his unclean warm air weakens the body and makes it an easy prey to cold germs.

Many physicians preach and practice this fallacy as to fresh air and colds, but few physicians now deny that influenza is a germ disease or that a nose so irritated and so neglected as to secrete large quantities of mucus is a better place for breeding disease germs than a nose whose membranes are clean and not thus irritated.

Until medical specialists are agreed, and until they have definitely located the cold germ, we laymen must choose for ourselves a working theory. The weight of opinion at the present time declares that colds are due to germs. Strong membranes with good circulation and drainage provide poor food for germs. Congested membranes furnish proper conditions for propagation. The germ theory explains the spread of germs from the nose to the passages of the head, and from head to arteries and lungs.

A cold can always be charged to some one else. How many can be laid to our account? There is one right that is universally not recognized, and that is the right of protection from the germs showered in the air we breathe, over the food we eat, by the sneezes of our unfortunate neighbor at school, in the street car, at the restaurant. The chief danger of a cold is to our neighbor, not to ourselves. A cold which a strong person may throw off in a day or two may mean death to his tuberculous neighbor. Though for our own health "lying up for a mere cold" is an unnecessary bore, the failure to do so may deprive our neighbor of a right greater than the right to protection against scarlet fever or smallpox. Though formerly this statement would not have been true, rights change with conditions, and the fact that to-day the three most deadly diseases are pneumonia, tuberculosis, and diphtheria,—all diseases of the respiratory organs,—justifies the assertion that we have a right to protection against colds. The prevalence of colds, sore throats, irritated vocal cords, bad voices, catarrh, bronchitis, laryngitis, and asthma in America to-day demands summary measures. One can learn to sneeze into a handkerchief, not into a companion's face or into a room. School children can be taught to avoid handkerchiefs on which mucus has dried. In the far distant future we may be willing to use cheesecloth, and boil it or throw it away, or, like the Japanese, use soft paper handkerchiefs and burn them after using.



England and Wales 22.70 Scotland 27.40 Stockholm 26.70 London 31.20 Berlin 16.10 Vienna 39.70 Christiania 21.30 Boston 30.60 Chicago 24.20 Philadelphia 25.10 New York City 36.60

One child with a cold can infect a whole class or family, thus depriving the class and family of the top of their vitality and efficiency without their consent. Because a person is thought a weakling who lies up for a "mere cold," one is inclined to wish that colds were as prostrating as typhoid, in which case there would be some hope of their extermination.

The exclusion of children with colds from school deserves trial as a check to children's diseases. Many of these "catching" diseases start with a cold in the head, as, for instance, measles, influenza, and whooping cough. The first symptom of mumps, diphtheria, and scarlet fever is a sore throat or swollen glands, which, because they commonly accompany a cold, are not at first distinguished from it.

The first step for the teacher or mother in reading the index for colds is to look into the coat closet for evidence of warm clothing and overshoes, then to note whether the children put them on when they go out for lunch or recess. Whether "cold" settles in the nasal passages, ear, or stomach depends upon which is the weak spot. Draughts, thin soles, wet soles, exposure when perspiring, may be the immediate cause of the nutritional or respiratory disturbances that give cold germs a foothold. Adenoids, diseased teeth, inflamed ears, may furnish the food supply. "There is no use treating children and sending them on fresh-air trips as long as they have nutritional and digestive disturbances due to bad teeth, or colds due to adenoids," said a physician when examining a party of children for a summer outing. The great preventive measure to be taken for catching diseases, colds, diseased glands,—in fact all germ diseases,—is the repeated cleansing of those portions of the human body in which germs may find lodgment,—the mouth, the nose, the eyes, and the ears.

In caring for young infants great pains is taken to cleanse all the orifices daily, but as soon as the child washes himself this practice is usually abandoned. Washing these gateways is far more important than washing the surface of the body through which germs could not possibly gain entrance into the system except through wounds. Oftentimes the douching of the nostrils with salt water will stop a cold at once. The mouth is the most important place of all, and the teacher should take care of her pupils' mouths first and foremost. As bad teeth, enlarged tonsils, and adenoids harbor germs and putrescent matter that vitiate every incoming and outgoing breath, these defects should be immediately corrected. Are we coming to a time when a thorough house-cleaning in the mouth of every child will take place before he enters the schoolroom, preferably in the presence of the teacher?

Two other "catching" diseases cause city schools a great deal of trouble,—trachoma and pediculosis (head lice). There are probably no two diseases more quickly transmitted from one person to another. Almost before their presence is known, all children of a school or all persons of a group have contracted them. When at college twenty men of my fraternity discovered almost at the same time that they had an infectious eye trouble; yet we thought we were using different towels and otherwise taking sanitary precautions. Last summer a Vassar graduate took a party of tenement children for a country picnic. She returned with head lice that required constant attention for weeks. What then may we expect of children who live in homes where there is neither water, time, nor privacy for bathing, where one towel must serve a family of six, where mothers work for wages away from home and see their children only before seven and after six?

Unfortunately for thousands of children, many parents still believe these troubles will be outgrown. Last summer a fresh-air agency in New York City arranged for several hundred school girls to go to a certain camp for ten days each. The only condition was that the heads should be free from lice and nits (eggs). From the list furnished by school-teachers—girls supposed to have been cured by school nurses—not one in five was accepted. A baby two weeks old, brought to Caroline Rest, had already begun to suffer from this easily preventable scourge. Of 1219 children examined in Edinburgh, Scotland, 909, or 69 per cent, had some skin disease, and 60 per cent had sores due to head lice. Even when neglect has caused the loss of hair and ugly sores on the head, mothers deceive themselves into believing that some other cause is responsible.

Trachoma, if neglected, not only impairs the health of the eye, but may cause blindness. Tears carry the germs from the eye to the face, where they are taken up on handkerchiefs, towels, and fingers and infect other eyes. Of late, thanks to school nurses and physicians and hygiene instruction, American cities have found relatively little trachoma except among recent immigrants. So dangerous is the germ and so insidious its methods of propagation, that a physician should be summoned at once at the first sign of inflammation. Conjunctivitis is due to a germ, and will spread unless checked. Since the board of health of New York City has instituted the systematic examination of the eyes of the children in the public schools, it has found fully one third affected with some form of conjunctivitis. Many of these cases are out-and-out trachoma, others acute conjunctivitis, and a larger proportion are "mild trachoma." This last form of the disease is found to a great extent among children who have adenoids. The adenoids should be regarded as a predisposing factor rather than a direct cause. Therefore sore eyes are given as one of the indexes of adenoids. When we consider that adenoids are made up of lymphoid material, and that trachoma follicles are made up of the same sort of tissue, it is not surprising that the two conditions are found in the same child. The catarrhal inflammation produced by adenoids in the nasal mucous membrane travels up the lachrymal duct and thus infects the conjunctiva by contiguity.

In preventing pediculosis and infection of the eye vigilance and cleanliness are indispensable. After the diseases are advanced, after the germ colonies have taken title, some antiseptic or germ killer more violent than water is needed,—kerosene for the hair or strong green oil soap; for the eye, only what a physician prescribes.



Wherever school children's eyes have been examined, from six to nine out of thirty are found to be nearsighted, farsighted, or otherwise in need of attention. A child is dismissed from school for obstinately declaring that the letter between c and t in "cat" is an o; "a pupil in her fourth school year was recently brought to me by her teacher with the statement that she did unreasonably poor work in reading for an intelligent and willing child;" a boy is punished for being backward. These three cases are typical. Examinations showed that the first child was astigmatic and not obstinate; the boy had run a pin into one eye ten years before and destroyed its sight; while the second girl was found to be afflicted with diplopia, and in a friendly chat told the following story: "I very often see two words where there is only one. When I was a very little girl I used to write every word twice. Then I was scolded for being careless. So I learned that I must not say two words even when I saw them." As Miss Alida S. Williams, principal of Public School 33 in New York City, has in many articles and addresses freely illustrated from school experience, the art of seeing is acquired, not congenital, and every human being who possesses it has learned it.

The large proportion of children suffering more or less seriously from eye trouble has led many persons to suggest physical deterioration as the cause. Eye specialists, however, assure us that eye troubles are probably as old as man. Our tardiness in learning the facts regarding these troubles is due in part to the lack, until recently, of instruments for examining the eye and for manufacturing glasses to correct eye defects; in part, also, to the tendency of the medical profession, which I shall repeatedly mention, to explain disorders by causes remote and hard to find rather than by those near at hand.

About 1870 Dr. S. Weir Mitchell's attention was called "to the marked relief of headache, insomnia, and other reflex symptoms following the correction of optical defects by glasses." In 1874 and 1876 he wrote two articles that "impressed upon the general profession the grave significance of eye strain." Since that time, "in Philadelphia at least, no study of the rebellious cause of headache or of the obscure nervous diseases has ever been considered complete until a careful examination of the eyes has included them as a possible cause of the disturbance."

The new fact, therefore, is not weak eyes or strained eyes, but rather (1) an increase in the regular misuse of eyes by school children, seamstresses, stenographers, lawyers, etc.; and (2) the incipient propaganda growing out of school tests that show the relation of eye strain to headache, nervous diseases, stomach disorder, truancy, backwardness.

Every school, private and parochial as well as public, should supply itself with the Snellen card for testing eyes. Employers would do well to have these cards in evidence also, for they may greatly increase profits by decreasing inefficiency and risks. If there is no expert optician near, apply for cards to your health board or school board; failing there, write to your state health and school boards. In many states rural teachers are already supplied with these cards by state boards. In October, 1907, the New York state board of health sent out cards, with instructions for their use, to 446 incorporated towns. The state commissioner of education also sent a letter giving school reasons for using the cards. Results from 415 schools having shown that nearly half the children had optical defects, it is proposed to secure state legislation that will make eye tests obligatory in all schools. Such a test in Massachusetts recently discovered twenty-two per cent of the school children with defective vision, and from forty to fifty thousand in need of immediate care by specialists.

Of course eye specialists,—oculists,—if skillful, know more about eyes and eye troubles than general medical practitioners or teachers. Preliminary eye tests, however, may be made by any accurate person who can read. The Massachusetts state board of health reports that tests made by teachers were "not less efficient" than tests made by specialists. In June, 1907, a group of eminent oculists recommended to the school board of New York City that teachers make this first test after being instructed by oculists. Persons interested in the schools nearest them can quickly interest teachers and pupils by starting tests with this card. In cities oculists can be found who will be glad to explain to teachers, individually or in groups, how the cards should be used and what dangers to avoid.

Nature intended the human eye to read the last line of this card at a distance of ten feet. This conclusion is not a guess, but is based upon the examination of thousands of eyes. In making the test, the number of feet the eye ought to see is written as the denominator of the fraction; the distance the eye can see clearly is the numerator. If the child's card reads, "Right eye 10/10, left eye 10/20," it means that the right eye sees without conscious strain the distance it is intended to see, while the left eye must be within ten feet to see what it ought to see twenty feet away.

The practical steps for a teacher to take in making eye tests are:

1. Scrutinize the faces for a strained or worried expression while reading or writing, for squint eyes, for unnatural positions, and for improper distances (more or less than nine inches) from eye to book.

2. Select for first tests the children who obviously need attention and will be obviously benefited. Use the eye test to help trace the cause of headaches, nervousness, inattention.

3. Let the children mark off the distances with a foot rule and chalk, going as high as twenty. Be sure to get the best light in the room.

4. Start all children on the ten-foot line. If a child cannot read at ten feet the letter which should be seen at that distance, move the child forward, have it step forward and backward, and note the result carefully. It is better to have ten separate letters of exactly the right size and the same size than a row of letters on one card, as in the Snellen test, otherwise memory will aid the eye, or, as happened recently, a whole class may agree to feign remarkable nearsightedness or farsightedness by confusing letters learned in advance from the card. If the Snellen card is used, and if it is more convenient to have both child and card stationary, satisfactory results will be obtained by having the child read from large letters down as far as he can see.

5. Have the child read from right to left, from left to right, or skip about so that memory cannot aid the eye.

6. Test each eye separately. I was twenty-five years old before I learned that my left eye did practically all of the close sight work. A grown woman discovered just a few days ago that she was almost blind in the left eye; when she rubbed the right one while reading she was shocked to find that she could see nothing with the left eye.

7. If the card is stationary and the child moved, and if only one size of the letter is used, put in the denominator the number of feet at which the normal eye should see clearly, and in the numerator the distance at which each eye and both together can easily see. If the regular Snellen card is used containing letters of different size, place in the denominator the number of the lowest line each eye and both eyes together can read easily, and in the numerator the number of feet from card to eye.

8. Explain the result to the child, to his fellows, to his parents. If the left eye reads 10/20 and the right eye 10/30, it means that neither eye is normal, and that reading small type is a constant strain, even though unnoticed. The right eye must be within ten feet to read what it should read at twenty feet. The left eye must be within ten feet to read what it should read at thirty feet. If the two eyes read at ten, it means that in working together they successfully strain for a result that is not worth what it is costing. When eyes thus unconsciously see what they are not intended to see, it is only a matter of time when stomach and nervous system will announce that the strain can no longer be borne. Indigestion, dislike of study, restlessness follow. If, however, the eyes are so near the normal that their story reads 12/10 or 8/10, the strain will be negligible for the present. If, on the other hand, the only difficulty is a confusion of x and z with c and g, it means that there is a strain due to astigmatism, and that the child should be sent to an oculist.

9. Teach children and parents (and practice what you preach) the urgent importance of periodic reexamination, just as you would teach them to visit a dentist twice a year. This is needed by those who wear eyeglasses, and more particularly by those who have recently put them on. Moreover, as shown below, it is needed by children able to pass satisfactorily the Snellen test.

10. Acquire the habit of reading the eye for evidence of temperate or intemperate living, sleeping, eating, dancing, drinking, and smoking. Inflamed eyes are results,—signals of danger. "The organ may be faultless in construction and in its work poor, because of nerve exhaustion, or, in a less and more easily recoverable degree, nerve fatigue." If unusual eye conditions are not readily explained by mode of living or by eye tests, an oculist should be consulted.

The limits of the card test must be constantly kept in mind: (1) it does not register eye sickness due to dust, smoke, or disease germs; (2) it does not show unconscious eye strain due to successful accommodation. But it will discover a great part of the children who most need care. Sooner or later, too, inflammation of the eyelids, due to external causes, will affect the nerves of the eye and their power to conceal by accommodation the eye's defects. Just as we unconsciously open the mouth when a cold stops up the nose, the eye adapts itself to our needs without our realizing it. We expect it to see. It sees. If our eyes are not made alike, they do their best to work together. Like a good team of horses, the slow one hurries, the fast one holds back a little. But if one eye is 10/15 and the other 10/10, they will both be unnatural and strained if both read the same type. The effects of this strain frequently upset the stomach before the eyes rebel. I learned that I needed eyeglasses after a case of protracted indigestion, first diagnosed as "nervous" and later traced to eyes. Thousands of upper-grade children and college students are dieting for stomach trouble that will last until the eyes are relieved of the undue and unrecognized strain. To prove the influence of eye strain on indigestion, persuade some obstinate parent to wear improperly focused glasses for a day; she will then be willing to have her child's eyes attended to.

It is unfortunate that the eyes will overwork without protesting. For years many persons suffer without learning that their eyes are unlike, or, as often happens, that one eye does all the close range work. Even when being tested, eyes will seem to see easily what requires a great effort of "accommodation." To prevent this self-deception skilled oculists do not trust the eye card, but put a drug in the eye that benumbs the muscles of accommodation. They cannot contract or expand if they want to. The oculist then studies the length of the eye and the muscle of accommodation. With this absolute knowledge of how each eye is made he knows what is wrong, exactly at what angle light enters the eye, whether objects are focused too soon or too late, exactly what kind of eyeglasses or what operation upon the eye is needed to enable it to do its work without undue straining or accommodation. So unconsciously do the eyes accommodate themselves to the work expected of them that not infrequently a child with seemingly perfect sight may be more in need of glasses than the child with imperfect sight. Practically, however, it is out of the question at the present time to have the majority of children given a more thorough test than that provided by the Snellen card. Where eye strains escape this test teachers will find evidence in complaints of headache, nervousness, sick stomach, chorea, or even epilepsy. The constant strain may also cause red or inflamed lids. Parents and teachers must be on the constant lookout for these symptoms of good sight persisting in spite of imperfect eyes.

An epidemic of eyeglasses is usually the consequence of eye tests. So naturally do we associate eyeglasses with eye defects that some people assert that the eye tests at school originate with opticians more intent upon selling spectacles than upon helping children. In fact, even among educators who proclaim the need for eye tests there has been far more talk of eyeglasses than of removable conditions that cause eye strain. The women principals of New York City have sounded an alarm, and urge more attention to light and to reading position, more rest, more play, more hand work, less home study and less eye work at school, rather than more eyeglasses to conceal temporarily the effect of abusing children's eyes. Putting glasses on children without changing causal conditions is like giving alcohol to consumptives. The feeling of relief is deceptive. The trouble grows worse.

For some time to come eye tests will find eye troubles by the wholesale in every industrial and social class, in country as well as city schools. In 415 New York villages 48.7 per cent of school children had defects of vision,—this without testing children under seven,—while 11.3 per cent had sore eyes.

There are three possible ways of remedying defects: (1) changing the eye by operation; (2) changing the light as it enters the eye by eyeglasses; (3) decreasing the demands made upon the eye. To change eyes or light requires a technical skill which few physicians as yet possess. It will be remembered that it is but thirty years since the medical profession in America first began to understand the relation of eye defects to other defects. Until a generation of physicians has been trained by medical colleges to learn the facts about the eye and to apply scientific remedies, it is especially necessary that teachers and parents reduce the demands made upon children's eyes; oral can be substituted for written work, manual for optical work, relaxed and natural movement for discipline, outdoor exercise for less home study. Other requirements are suitable light and proper position, and abolition of shiny paper, shiny blackboard, and fine print. Even after it is easy to obtain the correction of eye defects it will still be necessary to adapt the demands upon children's eyes to the strength and shape of those eyes. Because we are born farsighted, nearsighted, and astigmatic, we must be watchful to eradicate conditions that aggravate these troubles. Finally, there is no excuse whatever for permitting the parent of any school child in the United States to remain ignorant of the fact that it is just as absurd to go to the druggist or jeweler for eyeglasses as to the hardware store for false teeth.

The education of physician, oculist, and optician can be expedited by eye tests in school and by the follow-up work of schools in removing the prejudice of parents against glasses when needed. Because knowledge of chemistry preceded knowledge of the human body, the teaching of medicine still shows the effect of predilection for the remote, the problematical, the impossible. This predilection has influenced many specialists as well as many general practitioners, both overlooking too frequently obvious causes that even intelligent laymen can be taught to detect. Very naturally the man who makes money out of attention to simple troubles has stepped into the field not as yet occupied by the general practitioner and the specialist. Thus we have the optician, the painless tooth extractor, and quack cures for consumption. Opticians are placing before hundreds of thousands simple truths about the eye not otherwise taught as yet. Because they make their money by selling eyeglasses and because their special knowledge pertains to glasses rather than to eyes they frequently fail to recognize their limitations.

Physicians feel very strongly that it is as unethical for an optician to fit eyeglasses without a physician's prescription as for a pharmacist to give drugs without a physician's prescription. The justification for this feeling should be based not upon the commercial motive of the optician but upon his ignorance. A physician uninformed as to eye troubles is just as unsafe as an optician determined to sell glasses. It must be made unethical and unprofessional for physician and optician alike to prescribe in the dark. Laymen and physicians must be taught that it is just as unethical and unprofessional for oculists and physicians to fail to bring their knowledge within the practical reach of the masses as for the optician to advertise his wares. School tests will not have been used to their utmost possibilities until optician and physician alike take the ethical position that the first consideration is the patient's welfare, not their own profits. It must soon be recognized as unethical and unprofessional for an optician who is also a skilled physician to refer patients to a medical practitioner ignorant as to optical science.

Whether opticians and physicians are unprofessional or unethical may be told by reexamination if the examiner is himself competent and ethical. There is no better judge of their efficiency than the patient himself, who can tell whether the results promised have been effected. Whether the work of a country oculist is efficient and ethical can be learned: (1) by teaching country school children to recognize eye strain; (2) by comparing his results with those of other physicians. As soon as one or two states have tested eyes, we shall have an average by which to compare each class, school, and city with others of their size under similar conditions. If a particular physician finds half as many more or only half the average number, the presumption will be that his results are inaccurate and warrant an investigation. The interested teacher or parent can render an inestimable service to her local school and to the children of her state by taking steps to secure state laws compelling eye tests in all schools.

Finally, it must be remembered by teachers, employers, parents, and all eye users that eyes are constantly changing; that eyes may need glasses six months after they are examined and found sound; that glasses change or develop the eye, so that they may be unnecessary and harmful six months after they are prescribed, or the eye may require a stronger glass; that eyeglasses become bent and scratched, so that they worry and strain the eye; that a periodic examination is essential to the health of the eye.

In caring for the health of the eye, we should also remember that our eyes are our chief interpreters of the world that gives us problems, profits, and pleasures. Out of gratitude, if not out of enlightened self-interest, we owe our eyes protection, attention, and training, so that without straining we shall always be able to see truth and beauty.



The presence of adenoids is a frequent cause of both slight and aggravated deafness. Of 156 deaf mutes examined 59 per cent had adenoids, while only 6 per cent of the general run of the children in the neighborhood had this trouble. In mouth breathing, the current of air entering the mouth draws out some of the air from the Eustachian tube which ventilates the middle ear and unequalizes the atmospheric pressure on the eardrum, causing it to sink in and to blunt the hearing. An examination of the eardrums of school children in New York who are mouth breathers showed a high percentage of deafness, incipient or pronounced, accompanying adenoids. For example, of 9 mouth breathers selected from one class (average age 7-8 years), 6 were well-marked cases of deafness. Of 8 mouth breathers (average age 8-9 years), and of 5 mouth breathers (average age 5-6 years), all had noticeable defects of hearing. Many adults that suffer from deafness maintain that they never had any trouble in childhood. Yet the evidences of nose and throat trouble in childhood persist and disprove such statements. The foundations of deafness in later life are, in most instances, laid in childhood. Since the majority of cases of ear trouble occurring in school children accompany diseased conditions of the nose and throat, the proper care of nose and throat will, in large measure, balance the shortcomings of the aural examinations. Since the examination of the drum itself is not practicable, especial care should be given to the examination of the nose and throat.

The figures published by New York City's department of health show that of 274,641 children examined from March, 1905, to January, 1908, 3540, or 1.2 per cent, gave evidence of defective hearing. Ear specialists suggest that this small percentage results from employing the whisper test at twenty feet. The whisper test at sixty feet has been set by experts as a test of normal hearing. But preciseness with this test is well-nigh impossible when we consider that the acoustics, the quality of the examiner's voice, the weather, the vowel or consonant sounds, all are variable quantities. The watch test is frequently used, but since a young teacher in her enthusiasm used an alarm clock to make the test, specialists have decided that the volume of sound differs in watches to such a degree as to make the watch test unreliable. The examination of the eye has been reduced to mathematical precision, due altogether to the anatomy of that organ. As yet there is no instrument for the ear comparable to the ophthalmoscope. The acoumeter is largely used by aurists and can be obtained from the optician. This instrument has an advantage over the whisper or watch tests in that its tick is uniform.

Each ear should be tested separately. Let the child place his finger against the flap of one ear while the other is being tested. Then compare the farthest distance from the ear at which the tick can be heard with the normal, standard distance. During the test all sound should be eliminated as far as possible and the eyes should be closed. At a demonstration of ear testing at Teachers College, one student stated that she could not hear the tick of the watch at a distance greater than twenty inches. Then the tester walked noisily toward her, leaving the watch on the desk, five feet away from the patient. She heard it now. When the class burst out laughing she opened her eyes, and, seeing the watch so far away, exclaimed, "Why, I thought I imagined it." Be careful in testing a child to distinguish between what he "thinks he imagines" and what he really hears. Because of the difficulties of this test a doubt should be sufficient to warn the teacher to send the child to be tested by an expert. Detection of slight deafness may lead to the discovery of serious defects of nose or throat. Inflammation from cold or catarrh may cause deafness, which if neglected may permanently injure the ear. Often deafness is due to an accumulation of wax. A running ear should receive immediate attention, as it is an indication of inflammation which may imperil the integrity of the eardrum, and, if neglected, may eat its way through the thin partition between the ear and the brain and cause death.

It should never be assumed that deafness is incurable. Stupidity, inattention, and slowness to grasp a situation accompany difficulty of hearing and should cause the teacher to examine the ears. No ear trouble is negligible. Children and parents should be taught that the normal ear is intended to hear for us, not to divert our attention to itself. When the ear aches or "runs" or rumbles there is something wrong, and it should be examined together with the throat and nose.


In New York City one child in ninety-one already examined has had the form of nervous disease known as St. Vitus's Dance, or chorea. So prone are we to overlook moderate evils and moderate needs that the child with aggravated St. Vitus's Dance is apt to be cured sooner than the child who is just "nervous." Teachers cannot know whether twitching eyes, emotional storms, constant motion of the fingers or feet are due to chorea, to malnutrition, to eye strain, or to habits acquired in babyhood or early childhood and continued for the advantage that accrues when discipline impends. Many a child treasures as his chief asset in time of trouble the ability to lose his temper, to have a "fit," to exhibit nervousness that frightens parent, teacher, or playmate, incites their pity, and wards off punishment. The school examination will settle once for all whether the trouble can be cured. The family physician will explain what steps to take.


We Americans were first interested in the physical examination of school children by exaggerated estimates of the number of children who are underfed. As fast as figures were obtained for eye defects, breathing defects, bad teeth, some one was ready to declare that these were results of underfeeding. Hence the conclusion: give children at least one meal a day at school. Scientific men began to set us straight and to give undernourishment a technical meaning,—soft bones, flabby tissue, under size, anaemia. While too little food might cause this condition, it was also explained that too much food of the wrong sort, or even food of the right sort eaten irregularly or hurriedly or poisoned by bad teeth, might also cause undernourishment, including the extreme type known as malnutrition. In extreme instances the symptoms enable an observant teacher who has learned to distinguish between the pretty hair ribbon and clean collar and the sunken, pale, or hectic cheek and lusterless eyes to detect the cause. But as with eyes and nose, an unhealthy condition of nourishment may exist long before outward symptoms are noticeable. Therefore the value of the periodic searching examination by the school physician.


Only recently have we laymen learned that knee trouble, clubfoot, ankle sores, spine and hip troubles, scrofula, running sores at joints, etc., are not hereditary and inevitable, but are rather the direct result of carelessness on the part of adult consumptives. These conditions in school are indices of homes and houses where tuberculosis is or has been active, and of health boards that are or have been inactive in checking the white plague. Early examination may disclose the small lump on the child's spine,—which one mother diagnosed as inherited "round shoulders,"—and save a child from being a humpback for life. Moreover, the examination of the crippled child's brothers and sisters will often show the beginnings of pulmonary tuberculosis.


In almost every class are one or more children who are proud of small or big lumps under one or more jaws. Only physicians can find very small lumps. Many family doctors will say, "Oh, he will outgrow those," or "Those lumps will be absorbed." Like most other evils that we "outgrow" or that pass away, these lumps shriek not to be neglected. They mean interference with nourishment and prevent proper action of the lymphatic system, as adenoids prevent free breathing. Even when not actually infected with tubercle bacilli, they are fertile soil for the production of these germs. If detected early, they point to home conditions and personal habits that can be easily corrected. In New York one child in four has these enlarged glands. If the same proportion prevails in other parts of the United States, there are 5,400,000 children whose strength is being needlessly drained, many of whom, if neglected, will need repeated operations.



"Have their teeth attended to first, and many of the eye defects will disappear." This was an unexpected contribution to the debate upon free eyeglasses for the school children of New York City. So little do most of us realize the importance of sound, clean teeth, and the interrelation of stomach and sense nerves, that even the school principals thought the eye specialist was exaggerating when he declared that bad teeth cause indigestion and indigestion causes eye strain.

"Bad" teeth mean to most people dirty teeth and offensive odors, loose, crooked, or isolated teeth, or black stumps. Even among dentists a great many, probably the majority, do not appreciate that "bad" teeth mean indigestion, lowered vitality, plague spots for contaminating sound teeth and for breeding disease germs. Until recently the only rule about the teeth of new recruits in the United States army was: "There must be two opposing molars on each side of the mouth. It doesn't matter how rotten these molars may be." The surgeon general was persuaded to change to "four opposing molars on each side"; still nothing as to the condition of the two additional molars! In the German army there is a regular morning inspection of teeth and toothbrushes. Several German insurance companies give free dental treatment to policy holders, not to bestow charity but to increase profits.

Neglecting "baby teeth" and adenoids may mean crooked second teeth that will cause: (1) hundreds of dollars for straightening; (2) permanent business handicap because crooked teeth are disagreeable to others, because mastication is less perfect, and because a disfigured mouth means dis-arranged nerves; or perhaps (3) large dental bills because it is difficult to clean between cramped, crooked teeth.

Unfortunately the great majority of parents rarely think of their children's teeth until too late to preserve them intact. Even among families where the rule of brushing the teeth twice daily prevails, regular dental examination is often not required. Doctors and dentists themselves have not been trained to realize that the teeth are a most dangerous source of infection when unclean. Does your dentist insist upon removing tartar and food particles beyond your reach, upon polishing and cleansing, or does he regard these as vanity touches, to be omitted if you are in a hurry?

Physicians send tuberculosis patients to hospitals or camps without correcting the mouth conditions that make it impossible for the patient to eat or swallow without infecting himself. Tonics are given to women whose teeth are breeding and harboring disease germs that tear down vitality. Nurses watch their suffering patients and do the heavier tasks heroically, but are not trained to teach the simple truths about dental hygiene. The far-reaching results of neglect of teeth will not be understood until greater emphasis is placed on the bacteriology, the economics, the sociology, and the aesthetics of clean, sound teeth. Whether or not there is at present a tendency to exaggerate the importance of sound teeth, there is no difference of opinion as to the fact that the teeth harbor virulent germs, that the high temperature of the mouth favors germ propagation, that the twenty to thirty square inches of surface constantly open to bacterial infection offer an extensive breeding ground, and that the formation of the teeth invites the lodgment of germs and of particles of food injurious both to teeth and to other organs.

By scraping the teeth with the finger nail and noticing the odor you can convince yourself of the presence of decomposing organic matter not healthful to be carried into the stomach. By applying a little iodine and then washing it off with water, your teeth may show stains. These stains are called gelatinous plaques, which are transparent and invisible to the naked eye except when colored by iodine. These plaques protect the germs, which ferment and create the acid which destroys tooth structure. Their formation can be prevented by vigorous brushing and by eating hard food.

The individual with decayed teeth, even with unclean teeth, is open to infection of the lungs, tonsils, stomach, glands, ears, nose, and adenoid tissues. Every time food is taken, and at every act of swallowing, germs flow over the tonsils into the stomach. Mouth breathers with teeth in this condition cannot get one breath of uncontaminated air, for every breath becomes infected with poisonous emanations from the teeth. Bad teeth are frequently the sole cause of bad breath and dyspepsia, and can convey to the system tuberculosis of the lungs, glands, stomach, or nose, and many other transmissible diseases. They may also cause enlarged tonsils and ear trouble.

Apart from decomposing food and stagnant septic matter from saliva injured by indigestion, and by sputum which collects in the healthy mouth, there are in many infected mouths pus, exudations from the irritated and inflamed gum margins, gaseous emanations from decaying teeth, putrescent pulp tissue, tartar, and chemical poisons. Every spray from such a mouth in coughing, sneezing, or even talking or reading, is laden with microbes which vitiate the air to be breathed by others. Indigestion from imperfect mastication and imperfect salivation (themselves often due solely to bad teeth) is far less serious than indigestion from germ infection. Germs taken into the stomach can so change the composition of saliva (a natural disinfectant when healthy) as to render it no longer able to kill germs. Indigestion may result in excess of uric acid and toxic material, so that the individual becomes subject to gout and rheumatism, which in turn frequently destroy the bony support of the teeth and bring about Riggs's Disease. The last named is a prevalent and disfiguring disease, whose symptom is receding gums. The irritating toxins deposited on the teeth cause inflammation of the tissues at the gum margins. The gums withdraw more and more from sections of the teeth; the poisons get underneath and work back toward the roots; the infection increases and hastens the loosening of the teeth. I know of a man who had all of his teeth extracted at twenty-one years of age, because he was told that this was the only treatment for this disease, which was formerly thought to be incurable. Yet thorough cleansing and removal of this matter from under the edges of the gums, disinfection, a few visits to the dentist, will stop the recession but cannot regain lost ground.

Among those who regularly use the toothbrush, instinct, comfort, or display is the ruling motive, while a small percentage have evolved to the anti-nuisance stage, where the aesthetic standard of their group forbids any member to neglect his teeth. The anti-slum and pro-slum motives for mouth cleanliness and dental sanitation have been awakened in but one or two places. A significant pro-slum activity is the dental clinic organized by forty volunteer dentists, acting for an industrial school maintained by the New York Children's Aid Society.

Here 550 children have been examined, 447 teeth extracted, 284 teeth filled, 200 teeth treated for diseased pulp (and only 24 sets cleaned), 40 dentists taking turns in giving time to this work. The equipment cost but $239; cards and stationery, $72; incidentals, $33. The principal attends the clinic, because in her presence no child is willing to confess fear or unwillingness. To supplement this work, the dentists have prepared for free distribution a leaflet which tells in short, clear sentences how to care for the teeth.

A DENTAL CATECHISM When should they be cleansed? What are the teeth for? Immediately after the morning and noonday meals and before going to To masticate food; that is, bed. grind it into fine particles, mix it with saliva, and so By what means should they be begin its digestion; also to cleansed? aid in speaking and singing. By a moderately stiff brush, How long should they last? water, and floss silk. To the very end of life. How should these be used? How do we lose them? The brush should be first used in a general way, high up on the By decay, by loosening, and by gums length-wise of the jaws, to accident. remove large particles and stimulate the gums, then the What causes teeth to decay? brush and the teeth should be carefully rinsed with water. The Particles of food decaying in brush should next be used with a contact with them. rolling or circular motion, so that the bristles will follow the Where does food lodge? lines of all the grooves and spaces in which the particles of All along the edges of the gums, food have lodged, and so brush in the spaces between the teeth, them out. Then again the mouth and in the crevices of their should be rinsed with water. grinding surfaces. Should the gums be brushed? Can we prevent this loss? Yes, moderate friction helps to Yes, to a large extent. keep them healthy. How can we do it? How can the spaces between the teeth be reached? By using the teeth properly and by keeping them clean and the By dental floss silk passed gums healthy. between the teeth, drawn carefully back and forth till it What does using them properly reaches the gum, pressed firmly mean? against the side of each tooth in turn and drawn out towards the 1. Using sufficient hard or grinding end of the tooth, and fibrous food to give the teeth this repeated several times in and gums full exercise. each space. 2. Taking time enough to Should tooth powder or paste be masticate food thoroughly before used? swallowing. Usually once a day. How often should teeth be cleansed? As often as they are used.

Such a leaflet should be given out at dispensaries, hospitals, dental offices, schools, and from many Sunday schools and missions.[5]

The time for the schools to begin is when the child is first registered. Examination and reexamination must be accompanied by explanation of the serious disadvantages of neglected teeth, and the physical, social, and economic advantages of clean, sound teeth. Instruction at school must be followed by education of parents. The school or health authorities should examine the teeth of all children before issuing work certificates. Finally, the dental, medical, and nursing professions and the press must be enlisted in the school's campaign for dental hygiene. The Dental Hygiene Council of Massachusetts should be copied in all states.

A preliminary examination of teeth can be made by parent or teacher. Crooked, loose, dirty, or black teeth or receding gums can be detected by a layman's naked eye. In fact, children can be interested in finding the most obvious defects in their own or their brothers' teeth. There could be no better first lesson than to ask each pupil to look in a hand mirror and to count each tooth obviously needing a cleaning or a filling. The most urgent need can thus be ascertained without expert aid. But because parent, teacher, or child cannot discover defects does not prove that dental care is not imperative; hence the importance of examination by a dentist or by a physician competent to discover dental needs. If a private, public, or parochial school has no paid visiting dentist, a zealous school officer can, at least in large towns, persuade one or more dentists or physicians to make a few first tests to confirm the teacher's findings, and to persuade the community that regular examination and reexamination are necessary and a saving of pain, beauty, and money.

Reexamination is necessary because decay may start the day after a dentist has pronounced a tooth sound. For most of us twice a year is often enough. A reexamination should be made upon the slightest suspicion of decay, breaking, or loosening.

Educational use should be made by the teacher of the results of school examination. Children cannot be made self-conscious and cleanly by telling them that their teeth will ache three or five years from now. They can be made to brush or wash their teeth every morning and every night if they once realize that cavities can be caused only by mouth garbage. All decay of human teeth starts from the outside through the enamel that covers the soft bone of the tooth. This enamel can be destroyed by accidentally cracking or breaking it, or by acids eating into it. These acids come from (1) particles of food allowed to remain in the teeth; (2) tartar, etc., that adheres to the teeth and can be removed only by a dentist; (3) saliva brought up from an ill-conditioned stomach. Even where the enamel is destroyed, absolute cleanliness will prevent serious decay of the tooth. A perfectly clean tooth will not decay. Generally speaking, unless particles of food or removable acids remain on or between the teeth long enough to decompose, teeth cannot decay. Decay always means, therefore, uncleanliness. To unclean teeth is due in large part the offensive odor of many schoolrooms.

Uncleanliness becomes noticeable to our neighbors sooner or later. There is no offense we are so reluctant to commit as that of having uncleanliness of our bodies disagreeable to those about us. Very young children will make every effort in their power to live up to the school's standard of cleanliness. The other side to this reason for having clean teeth is vanity. Because all cleanliness is beautiful to us, clean teeth are one attribute of beauty that all of us can possess.

Habits of cleanliness are easily fixed. In the most crowded, most overworked section of large cities visitors from "uptown" are surprised by the children's bright hair ribbons, clean aprons, clean faces, and smoothly combed hair. It will be easy to add clean teeth to the list of things necessary to personal and family standing. Armenian children are taught to clean their teeth after eating, even if only an apple between meals. They covet "beautiful teeth." American standards will soon prevent these Armenians from cleaning their teeth in public, but desire for beautiful teeth will stay, and will remind them to care for their teeth in private. As coarse food gives way to sugars and soft foods, stiff toothbrushes must supplement tongue and toothpicks.

Strong as are the instinct and display motives in cleaning teeth, both parents and children need to be reached through the commerce motive. Instinct makes children afraid of the dentist, or content when the tooth stops aching. Display may be satisfied with cleaning the front teeth, as many boys comb only the front hair or as girls hide dirty scalps under pompadours and pretty ribbons. Desire to save money may give stronger reasons for not going to the dentist than instinct and comfort can urge for going. But parents can be made to see, as can children after they begin to picture themselves as wage earners, that a dentist in time saves nine, and that no regular family investment will earn more money than the price of prompt and regular dental care. A problem in arithmetic would be convincing, if, by questions such as those on page 98, we could compare the family cost of neglecting teeth with the cost of toothbrushes, bicarbonate of soda, pulverized chalk or tooth powder, early and repeated examination by a dentist, and treatment when needed.

How many members in your family? What does a toothbrush cost?

How many teeth have they? How many do you need in one year? How many teeth have they lost? How much does tooth powder How many false teeth have they? cost?

How many teeth have been filled? How much is needed for one year? What is the total cost to date? How much would two examinations How many days have been lost a year by a dentist cost? from work because of toothache?

How many teeth are now decayed?

What will it cost to have them attended to?

The result will show that the money spent for one good "house cleaning" of one child at fourteen or eighteen exceeds the cost of keeping clean and in repair the teeth of the entire family. How effective and economical is thorough cleaning is confessed by an eminent dentist, who taught an assistant to clean his patients' teeth. "Do you know," he said, "I had to stop it, so perceptibly did my work decrease." The total time required to examine school children for teeth needing attention is much less than the time now lost by absence from school or wasted at school on account of toothache.

To remind school children regularly of dental hygiene is not more important than for the school to remind parents repeatedly of the many reasons for attending to their children's teeth. It is not enough, however, to send one message to parents. Illustrated lectures, mothers' meetings, demonstrations at hospitals and fresh-air homes are all very serviceable, but listening is a poor substitute for understanding. Schools should see that parents understand the aesthetics, the economics, the humanity of dental hygiene. The best test of whether the parent has understood is the child's tooth.

Dental examination of children applying for work certificates gives the health and school authorities a means of enforcing their precepts. When no child is allowed to go to work whose teeth cause malnutrition or disgust, the news will spread, and both child and parent will see clearly the grave need for dental care.

Finally, local papers can be interested. They will print almost anything the teacher sends about the need for dental care. They like particularly facts about the number of cavities found, the number of children needing care, efforts made to procure care, and new facts about diseases that can be caused by bad teeth or about diseases that can injure teeth. Teachers can persuade dentists and physicians to write stories. No newspaper will refuse to print such statements as this: "A tuberculous patient in six weeks lost ground steadily. I persuaded him to go to a dentist to clean the vestibule to his digestive system, and to have a set of false teeth. He enjoys his meals, and has gained twelve pounds in six weeks." Popular magazines and newspapers mention teeth seldom, because those who best know the interesting vital things are making money, not writing articles or otherwise concerning themselves with dental education. It is said that of forty thousand American dentists not over eleven thousand are readers of dental journals, and probably not three hundred contribute to professional literature. One dentist who is working for the children's clinic described above, when asked by the board of education to lecture to the people on the care of the teeth and to recommend simple, readable books, told me that he knew no good books to suggest.

Five obstacles exist to practicing what is here preached:

1. The expensiveness of proper dentistry.

2. The untrustworthiness of cheap dental service and "painless" dental parlors; the domination of the supply houses wishing to sell instruments and other supplies.

3. The ethical objection to any kind of advertising or to work by wholesale.

4. The lack of dispensaries.

5. The profit-making basis of dental education.

Additional reasons these for cleanliness that will make the dentist serviceable for his knowledge rather than for his time and gold.

Good dentists really "come too high" for both the poor and the comfortably situated. Families in New York City that have four or five thousand dollars a year hesitate to go to a dentist whom they thoroughly trust, because his time is worth more than they feel they can afford to pay.

The "free-extraction" dental parlors undoubtedly are doing a vast amount of harm. In every city are dental quacks that injure wage-earning adults as much as soothing-sirup quacks injure babies. Instead of teaching people to preserve their teeth, they extract, and then, by dint of overpersuading by a pretty cashier hired for the purpose, make a contract for a gold crown or a false set at an exorbitant price. A reputable dentist has said that a dental parlor can do more damage to the welfare of the race in a few months than a well-intentioned man in the profession can repair in a lifetime. Its question is not, What can I do for this patient? but What is there in this mouth for me? Many "parlors" never expect to see the same person twice, because they do not make him comfortable or gain his confidence; they put a filling in on top of decayed matter or even diseased pulp; put in plates and bridges that do not fit; charge more than the examination at first leads one to expect; refuse to correct mistakes; deny having ever seen the patient before. Yet true and severe as this arraignment is, many of these parlors, with their liveried "runners in," are doing an educational service not otherwise provided; it is conceivable that in many cities they are doing less harm by their malpractice than well-intentioned men in the profession by neglect of public needs or by failure to organize facilities for meeting those needs.

I realize that advertising is "unethical" among dentists as among physicians. Humbug and imposition are supposed to go inevitably with self-advertising by the methods used in selling shoes or automobiles. Therefore such advertising is prohibited. But what seems to be forgotten in this definition of ethics is that the need and the opportunity for dental care must be advertised in some way, if we are ever to control diseases and evils due to bad teeth. The rich that one dentist can help are able to pay for his good taste, his neat attendants, his automobile, his club dues, his vacations at fashionable resorts, his hours without work, his standard of living. All of these things advertise him, just as hospital appointments and social position may and do advertise successful physicians. The patients of moderate means that one dentist can treat cannot afford to pay for rent, time disengaged, and indirect advertising. Either they must have free treatment, must go without treatment, or must go to a dental parlor where dental needs are organized so that a very large number will contribute to rent and display. It is out of the question to have both dentists and patients so distributed and prices so adjusted that dentists can make a good living by charging what the patient can afford, and at the same time admit of every patient being properly treated when necessary. Judging from every other branch of work, the solution of the problem lies partly in free care for those who can pay nothing or very little, and partly in cooeperative treatment through the heretofore objectionable dental parlors. If instead of inveighing against advertisers, honorable and capable dentists worked through dental and medical societies to secure adequate public supervision of dental practice, more progress would be made against dental malpractice.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse