Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 1.djvu/91
THE CAUSES OF DYSPEPSIA.
impure atmosphere of assemblies and public places of amusement among the better classes, are constantly acting causes of dyspepsia.
Many invalids are affected by changes of weather, especially if these changes occur suddenly. Even in the healthy a general feeling of discomfort is caused by easterly winds; and various disorders are greatly aggravated by them. Rheumatic patients are especially susceptible of bad effects from damp or cold winds, and many dyspeptics are hardly less so; an unusually dry atmosphere is equally injurious to others.
As in the case of a change of climate, the quantity and kind of food required are much influenced by season and temperature, and the agency of these in causing dyspepsia is, therefore, not to be wondered at. Some dyspeptics are always better in summer than in autumn or winter, others the reverse; while a great many tell us they suffer more in spring than at any other season.
Our bodies are at all times pervaded by electricity, the condition of which often completely changes. The clear, serene atmosphere is usually charged with positive electricity, and this, by induction, causes our bodies, as well as the earth itself, to be negative. In wet or stormy weather the opposite of this state of things is usual; the atmosphere is negative while our bodies are positive. We are unable in health to detect these electrical changes; but we might reasonably look for their effects when disease had rendered the body less capable of resisting external impressions. The probable effects of electricity, when the health is susceptible, will be again referred to.
We have still to consider instances in which, although the food may be suitable, and the digestive organs healthy, dyspepsia may be induced by an immediate and accidental effect upon the organs, through the influence of the nerves. There are certain sensations, of which nausea is a remarkable instance, not obviously assignable to any of the five senses; and all these sensations seem capable of being excited by mental influence. We are all conscious that the stomach is a region of sympathy; and here Van Helmont places the seat of the soul itself. With the stomach, or with the bowels, easily confounded with it, various passions—as joy, sorrow, compassion, and indignation—have been in all times associated.
It is universally known that bad news received at or preceding a meal will spoil the best appetite. A disagreeable mental impression sometimes even produces severe dyspepsia, with epigastric pain and sense of oppression, nausea, or vomiting. The intimate nervous connection between the stomach and the brain leaves us at no loss to explain this; and probably an arrest of the secretion of gastric juice is the immediate cause; for in the same way the mouth will become dry from a diminished secretion of saliva. Dyspepsia is also produced or aggravated by severe mental exertion immediately after meals, because of the untimely expenditure of nervous power.