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Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2

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In Part 1 of my Victorian-American Headaches Series, I shared one newspaper writer’s view that hats contributed to the problem. Today’s addition is Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2.

As I prepare this blog post, I suffer from a headache that won’t let up. The pain is severe, distracting, and disorienting. I can only imagine how I’d survive in 1890. Or 1870.

No wonder so many individuals turned to alcohol. Or the readily available opioids like morphine.

What did people do to survive? Let’s discover America’s Victorian view of headache pain together.

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Kristin Holt | 11-Part Blog Article Series: Victorian-American Headaches

Watch for the entire 11-part series covering Headaches in Victorian-America.

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Vintage Newspaper Article

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Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2 features a vintage newspaper article was published in The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890. Note: the article was originally published in Boston Herald.

Title: Have You a Headache?: A Common Complaint–It’s Causes, Nature and Prevention.”

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2; Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint--Its Causes, Nature and Prevention." From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890.

1) Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint–Its Causes, Nature and Prevention.” From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890.

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Nineteenth Century Medical Terms

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Nineteenth century medical terms are unfamiliar. Do you know the definition of paroxysm? I didn’t. And I’m an RN.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2. Definition of Paroxysm, compliments of Google.

Definition of Paroxysm, compliments of Google.

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Given this definition, I must say my headaches occur in paroxysms. Yay, me.

I’ll share a few more definitions of nineteenth-century medical terms. The more we understand, the more we enjoy reading fiction set in the Victorian era.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2; Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint--Its Causes, Nature and Prevention." From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890. (Part 2 of 10)

2) Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint–Its Causes, Nature and Prevention.” From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890.

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Named Categories

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  • Headaches from Disturbed Blood Circulation
  • Malarial Headaches

“… One physician said that malaria “became a component part of almost every other ailment such as malarial-neuralgia, malarial-headache, malarial-pneumonia, malarial-rheumatism, etc, . . . when a trouble was obscure, physicians were wont to call it malarial–malaria latent in form. Much too often malaria served as a kind of blanket to cover up the diagnostician’s ignorance.” “

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Source: Erwin H. Ackernecht, A Short History of Medicine (New York: Romanld Press, 1955), P. 1555; Tom Kirkwood, “The General Practitioner . . . ,” in David J. Davis, Ed., History of Medical Practice in Illinois, Vol. 11: 1850-1900… quoted in American Physicians in the Nineteenth Century: From Sects to Science, p. 188.

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“since 1801, neuralgia means an affection of one or more nerves causing pain. Affections of organs were seen as a cause and the concept was extended to include links with psychological illness In the last decades of the 19th century and throughout the 20th century.”

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  • Headaches from Decayed Teeth (even slight decay)

” The majority of those so-called neuralgic headaches which arise from decayed teeth are also rheumatic in their nature, being excited by the frequent alternations of heat and cold which reach the exposed nerve.”

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A Complete Treatise on Headaches and Diseases of the Head, 1859 edition (published 1853), Page 28

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  • Eyestrain (Ocular) Headaches
  • Sick Headache (Migraine)
  • Headache with a Common Cold
  • Headache due to Troubles in Nose and Ears
  • Anæmic Headaches (blood is poor and scanty)
  • Congestive Headaches (including manual congestion, e.g. hard coughing, too-tight collars)
  • Rheumatic Headache

“Rheumatic headache is described by some as a chronic headache with vehement pain, but especially characterized by a sense of tension of the whole head. If this form be not always rheumatic, it is always dependent upon some local irritation, of which rheumatism is the most frequent. … it may be distinguished from other varieties by its being rather limited to some particular part of the head… by an intolerance of all motion of the head, far more than of light or sound, both of which, however, are sometimes highly irksome; but especially by a particular feeling of tenseness or construction over the brain, as though its membranes were muscles, and were spasmodically contracted. When the headache is entirely rheumatic, it ceases as soon as another rheumatic pain sets in, in some other part of the body.”

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A Complete Treatise on Headaches and Diseases of the Head, 1859 edition (published 1853), Page 27

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  • Gouty Headaches
  • Kidney Disease Headaches
  • Headache arising from Indigestion, Biliousness, and Constipation
  • Brain Exhaustion Headaches (lack of nerve strength; Nervous Debility)
  • … plus many more (“to name them all would fill a volume”)

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2; Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint--Its Causes, Nature and Prevention." From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890. (Part 3 of 10)

3) Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint–Its Causes, Nature and Prevention.” From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2; Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint--Its Causes, Nature and Prevention." From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890. (Part 4 of 10)

4) Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint–Its Causes, Nature and Prevention.” From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2; Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint--Its Causes, Nature and Prevention." From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890. (Part 5 of 10)

5) Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint–Its Causes, Nature and Prevention.” From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2; Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint--Its Causes, Nature and Prevention." From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890. (Part 6 of 10)

6) Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint–Its Causes, Nature and Prevention.” From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2; Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint--Its Causes, Nature and Prevention." From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890. (Part 7 of 10)

7) Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint–Its Causes, Nature and Prevention.” From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2; Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint--Its Causes, Nature and Prevention." From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890. (Part 8 of 10)

8) Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint–Its Causes, Nature and Prevention.” From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2; Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint--Its Causes, Nature and Prevention." From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890. (Part 9 of 10)

9) Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint–Its Causes, Nature and Prevention.” From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2; Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint--Its Causes, Nature and Prevention." From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890. (Part 10 of 10)

10) Have You a Headache? A Common Complaint–Its Causes, Nature and Prevention.” From Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 28, 1890.

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Conclusion

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Victorian-American Headaches: Part 2 focuses predominately on one vintage newspaper article. This article promises “Its Causes, Nature and Prevention.” Did I miss the “prevention” portion of this article? I see 1890‘s causes and the natures of headache. What did they do to prevent trouble?

Do you see Prevention methods addressed?

Unless one counts general advice like obtaining a good pair of glasses. And “replenishing anæmic blood.” How? I may require more research.

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Invitation

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Do you suffer from headaches? Did anything in this 129-year-old article surprise you?

Please, scroll down and comment. Your thoughts are valuable!

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Coming Next

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Victorian-American Headaches: Part 3 ~ Why Your Poor Head Aches (1893)

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 3

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Coming later in this series:

  • Patent Medicines
  • Home Cures
  • How Sunday Leads to Headache
  • Why Women Suffer More Headaches
  • and more!

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Related Articles

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 1

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 4

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 5

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 6

Kristin Holt | Curling Colds, 1881 to 1901.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian Era: the American West

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