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Colonial America (1492-1765)
Health Care in Colonial Times



Health Care in Colonial Times
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.08

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    apothecary, bile, fester, grape-flavored, influenza, medicinal, phlegm, excess, herbal, provided, somewhat, dated, greatly, colonial, physician, based


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Health Care in Colonial Times
By Sharon Fabian
  

1     You wake up feeling yucky. Your mom takes your temperature and says you have a fever and can stay home from school today. She gives you some sweet grape-flavored cold medicine. Soon you are feeling much better so you play some video games; tomorrow you'll probably go back to school.
 
2     If you are really sick, you might visit your doctor, who will also take your temperature as well as listen to your chest with his stethoscope, or you might even go to the hospital, where the latest medical equipment can diagnose and cure your illness.
 
3     Medical care today is different in so many ways from medical care in colonial times. In a few hundred years, medicine has changed from a mysterious guessing game to a modern science.
 
4     Medical "knowledge" in colonial times was based on ideas brought over from Europe. Those ideas dated back to the ancient Greeks who believed that the earth was made of four basic elements - earth, water, air, and fire. They believed that the human body was made of four "humors" or fluids, which corresponded to those four elements of the earth. The four humors of the body were blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. Colonial physicians believed that when a person was sick, it was because the person's body did not contain the proper balance of the four humors.
 
5     To cure an illness, colonial physicians believed that the body's humors must be brought back into balance by removing the excess. They had many interesting ways of removing the excess. Some of them seem really disgusting today. Some of them were dangerous enough to kill patients.

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