Health in The Victorian Age

Health in the victorian age.


                During the Victorian Age, there was much reform and change in the field of health and medicine. One of the major changes during this time period was the methods of pain reduction. At first, scientists used little to no methods of pain reduction during surgery and operations, but during this period of time that changed. Another of the major aspects of health and medicine during this time period was the diseases and epidemics. Many of these came from the poor living conditions of the people during this time period. There were also many other aspects of health reform and factors that changed during this time. The sewage system changed and many other aspects of general health did too. The Victorian Age was a time of great change and reform in the field of health and medicine.

            Pain reduction was a major problem during the Victorian Age. Before the middle of the 1800s (19th century), there were only a few poor drugs and no anesthetics to relieve pain. These drugs did not kill pain and barely even dulled it. When people went through surgery or had a tooth pulled, they had to take the pain and deal with it. They had no option for numbing it; they just had to deal with it. Sometimes the patients would even have to be tied down during surgery because they would move around too much and mess up the procedure if they weren’t tied down (Marjorie et al. 118).

            The first stride towards reformed pain relief was taken in the 19th century, shortly before the Victorian age. This was when nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, was discovered. Also at this time, ether was discovered. In 1815, Faraday had discovered that it was possible to kill pain for a person and make them go slightly unconscious. In 1824, Dr. Henry Hickman published results of experiments he had done using laughing gas in which he found the same results as Faraday. At the time of its discovery, laughing gas and ether were not taken seriously. People used it at parties, or inhaled it just for fun (119). In the mid 1840s, operations with ether started to occur, leaving doctors stunned that they were not hearing the screams of patients. But there were negative after-effects of ether. Back in the Victorian Age when the drug was first discovered and being administered on patients, an unrefined version of ether was being used. According to one family of a patient who went through surgery with ether, the man seemed to be drunk (120). The ether was not approved of by many doctors, but still a step up from what people had before it, which was nothing but straps on an operating table. A final step toward improvement in pain killing during the Victorian times was in 1847 when chloroform was used on a patient who needed to have a piece of his arm removed. The man went unconscious and didn’t feel anything.  This was the birth of the field of knowledge known as anesthetics today, since scientists finally started to accept the field of science and use it to their advantage (121).

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