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1900's How You Catch a Cold
What They Believed in 1922

On this page you will find an explanation very simply of , How you catch a cold." This article is printed in the back of an old White House Cookbook © 1922. I found this article very interesting.

How Colds Are Caught

A great many cannot see why it is they do not take a cold when exposed to cold winds and rain. The fact is, and ought to be more generally understood, that nearly every cold is contracted indoors, and is not directly due to the cold outside, but to the heat inside. A man will go to bed at night feeling as well as usual and get up in the morning with a royal cold. He goes peeking around in search of cracks and keyholes and tiny drafts. Weatherstrips are procured, and the house made as tight as a fruit can. In a few days more the whole family have colds.

Let a man go home, tired or exhausted, eat a full supper of starchy and vegetable food, occupy his mind intently for a while, go to bed in a warm, close room, and if he doesn't have a cold in the morning it will be a wonder. A drink of whiskey or a glass or two of beer before supper will facilitate matters very much.

People swallow more colds down their throats than they inhale or receive from contact with the air, no matter how cold or chilly it may be. Plain, light suppers are good to go to bed on, and are far more conductive to refreshing sleep than a glass of beer or a dose of choral. In the estimation of a great many this statement is rank heresy, but in the light of science, common sense and experience it is the gospel truth.

Pure air is strictly essentiall to maintain perfect health. If a person is accustomed to sleeping with the windows open there is but little danger of taking cold winter or summer. Persons that shut up the windows to keep out the "night air" make a mistake, for at night the only air we breathe is "night air," and we need good air while asleep as much or even more than at any other time of day.

Ventilation can be accomplished by simply opening the window an inch at the bottom and also at the top, thus letting the pure air in, the bad air going outward at the top. Close, foul air poisons the blood, brings on disease which often results in death; this poisoning of the blood is only prevented by pure air, which enters the lungs, becomes charged with waste particles, then thrown out, and which are poisoning if taken back again. It is estimated that a grown person corrupts one gallon of pure air every minute, or twenty-five barrels full in a single night, in breathing alone.

Clothes that have been worn through the day should be changed for fresh or dry ones to sleep in. Three pints of moisture, filled with the waste of the body, are given off every twenty-four hours, and this is mostly absorbed by the clothing. Sunlight and exposure to the air purifies the clothing of the poisons which nature is trying to dispose of, and which would otherwise be brought again into contact with the body.

Colds are often taken by extreme cold and heat, and a sudden exposure to cold by passing from a heated room to the cold outside air. Old and weak persons, especially, should avoid such extreme change. In passing from warm crowded rooms to the cold air, the mouth should be kept closed, and all the breathing done through the nostrils only, that the cold air may be warmed before it reaches the lungs, or else the sudden change will drive the blood from the surface of the internal organs, often producing congestions.

Dr. B. I. Kendall writes that "the temperature of the body should be evenly and properly maintained to secure perfect health; and to accomplish this purpose requires great care and caution at times. The human body is, so to speak, the most delicate and intricate piece of machinery that could possibly be conceived of, and to keep this in perfect order requires constant care. It is a fixed law of nature that every violation thereof shall be punished; and so we find that he who neglects to care for his body by protecting it from sudden changes of weather, or draughts of cold air upon unprotected parts of the body, suffers the penalty by sickness, which may vary according to the exposure and the habits of the person, which affect the result materially; for what would be an easy day's work for a man who is accustomed to hard labor, would be sufficient to excite the circulation to such an extent in a person unaccustomed to work, that only slight exposure might cause the death of the latter when over heated in this way; while the same exercise and exposure to the man accustomed to hard labor might not affect him. So, we say, be careful of your bodies, for it is a duty you owe to yourselves, your friends, and particularly to Him who created you.

When your body is overheated and you are perspiring, be very careful about sitting down to "cool off," as the custom of some is, by removing a part of the clothing and sitting in a cool place, and perhaps where there is a draught of air passing over your body. The proper way to "cool off," when over heated is to put on more clothing, especially if you are in a cool place; but never remove a part of the clothing you have already on. If possible get near a fire where there is no wind blowing, and dry off gradually, instead of cooling off suddenly, which is always dangerous.

Many colds are taken from the feet being damp or wet. To keep these extremities warm and dry is a great preventative against the almost endless list of disorders which come from a "sight cold." Many imagine if their feet are not thoroughly wet, there will be no harm arising from mere dampness, not knowing that the least dampness is absorbed into the sole, and is attracted nearer the foot itself by its heat, and thus perspiration is dangerously checked.


All beings need drink as much as they need food, and it is just as necessary to health as pure air; therefore the water should be boiled or filtered before being drank. Rainwater filtered is probably the best attainable. Boiling the water destroys the vegetable and animal matter, and leaves the mineral matter deposited on the bottom of the vessel containing it; therefore it leaves it clear from poisonous substances. Read more about water.

1900's How To Keep Well

Don't sleep in a draught.
Don't go to bed with cold feet.
Don't stand over hot-air registers.
Don't eat what you do not need, just to save it.
Don't try to get cool too quickly after exercising.
Don't sleep in a room without ventilation of some kind.
Don't stuff a cold lest you should be next obliged to starve a fever.
Don't sit in a damp or chilly room without a fire.
Don't try to get along without flannel underclothing in winter.

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