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Q: Head colds, historically ( No Answer,   4 Comments )
Subject: Head colds, historically
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: archae0pteryx-ga
List Price: $7.02
Posted: 17 Jun 2006 20:01 PDT
Expires: 17 Jul 2006 20:01 PDT
Question ID: 739045
What are some of the ways that common colds--head colds, chest
colds--have been thought of in the past, centuries ago?--Middle Ages,
especially?  Were they considered serious?  _Were_ they serious?  What
are some names by which they were called?

Thank you,

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 18 Jun 2006 12:10 PDT

You might want to have a look at this book:
Cold Wars : The Fight Against the Common Cold 

The first chapter of the book looks like it hits the nail on the head,
as it's titled:  Colds Through The Cneturies:  The History of the
Common Cold

You can see much of the material from this chapter by clicking on the
"Excerpt" button.


Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 18 Jun 2006 12:17 PDT
By the way, a cnetury is a hundred yreas.

Clarification of Question by archae0pteryx-ga on 19 Jun 2006 23:29 PDT
Thanks for taking a look for me, paf.  From what I could see at
Amazon, the history chapter does come close, but it is mostly about
remedies.  That's interesting, but I don't see that it tells me what I
was asking for, namely, about the illness rather than the response to
the illness.

Anyway, I can't really get much out of this book online.  It's not
posted as an open resource that I can just read.  I was hoping to find
an accessible website with information I could read freely.

There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Head colds, historically
From: pinkfreud-ga on 19 Jun 2006 11:17 PDT
One of my grannies used to call a cold "the ague." This term comes
from Middle English, and can be used in reference to just about any
febrile illness.
Subject: Re: Head colds, historically
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 19 Jun 2006 23:33 PDT
Thanks, Pink!  I never realized that the terribly Victorian-sounding
ague was just a cold.  That's the kind of thing I am looking for--old
names, old ideas about colds and what caused them, degree of
seriousness attached to them, etc.

Subject: Re: Head colds, historically
From: myoarin-ga on 20 Jun 2006 04:20 PDT
Hi Tryx,
"Grippe", which now seems to be a term limited to influenza, MAY have
been an expression also for colds  - similar symptoms.  The word came
into the English language from French in the 18th century:

"grippe Look up grippe at
    1776, from Fr. grippe "influenza," originally "seizure," from
gripper "to grasp, hook," of Frank. origin, from P.Gmc. *gripanan (see
grip). Supposedly in reference to constriction of the throat felt by
sufferers; the word spread through European languages after the
influenza epidemic during the Rus. occupation of Prussia in the Seven
Years' War (c.1760)."  (etymoline)

Without wanting to question Pink's Granny, ague seems to refer
specifically to fever (as Pink mentions), not always so evident with
some colds:

"ague Look up ague at
    1377, from O.Fr. ague "an acute fever," from M.L. (febris) acuta
"sharp (fever)," fem. of acutus "sharp" (see acute)."

"Coryza" is a French expression for a cold, but may not have been one
in the Middle Ages:

Somewhere I found a French site that talked about illness in the
Middle Ages and pointed out the high mortality rate:  3-4 of the 5-6
children in a family dying before they were ten years old.
It sounds like any illness could be serious, despite Mom's chicken
broth and inhilation over a hot pan of water with herbs (which is a
scientifically recognized treatment).
I have read elsewhere that child mortality was so common that people
had a rather fatalistic attitude towards it  - not that they had much

HOpe that helps a bit.  Nice to see you again here.

Subject: Re: Head colds, historically
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 10 Jul 2006 20:56 PDT
Oh, thank you, Myo, for adding some helpful information for me here. 
This is almost enough.  I can use it, anyway.  As always, I appreciate
your generous contributions.

I sometimes "lose sight" of a question, as you put it elsewhere,
because while I am waiting to gather information, I move on to
something else.  Then I follow the new thread for a while and don't
think about the previous one until I reach a new stopping point and
cycle back.  It is never because I have lost interest!


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