Health and Sanitation in the Victorian Era

Topics: Social class, Working class, Victorian era Pages: 3 (856 words) Published: August 20, 2013
Do you ever wonder what health and sanitation were like long ago? The truth is conditions and beliefs were radically different than today. People believed many superstitions over facts, didn’t support hospitals, and thought that being dissected for scientific study was the worst fate for a soul. Nonetheless, health and science made great advancements and discoveries in the Victorian Era. By the 19th century medicine made ample advances through the work of doctors and scientists that refused to use pseudoscience to answer medical and scientific questions. Surgeon John Hunter developed the medical community’s understanding of how peoples’ bodies’ organs affect their health. Physician Edward Jenner’s studies allowed for doctors to trace various sicknesses back to their true causes. A vaccine to help fight small pox was discovered. Chemist Sir Humphrey Davy found one could inhale nitrous oxide gas to become unconscious during surgery, and two great discoveries in science were made: antiseptics and anesthetics (Hughes 63). Hospitals also made great advancements in the Victorian Era. Many hospitals were used, not to treat the ill or injured and then release them, but as a place for the insane, poor, drunk and contagious to be left. They were unsanitary and overcrowded with limited staff, but because of increased public awareness and funding between 1700 and 1825, 154 new hospitals were opened in Great Britain to diagnose and treat patients. Cottage hospitals were also built in more rural areas to complement the large hospitals in the cities. The first one opened in Surrey in 1859. By 1880 every county had a hospital like this, increasing the need for doctors (Hughes 64). While there were many medical students, there was a decrease in the number of bodies for dissection (cadavers). Being dissected was looked at as an end for the worst kinds of people. Surgeons had to resort to body snatchers or “resurrection men,” who met the need for cadavers by stealing fresh bodies....
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