Back in the "good old days", before people had access to a free National Health Service, before there were dedicated health phone lines to use in order to receive advice, before even there was Google to nervously type your symptoms into, people would turn to the newspaper columns to get medical advice. Newspapers such as "The People - A Weekly Newspaper For All Classes" would have sections entitled "Replies To Readers' Queries" and there would usually be a medical section. These were made even more fascinating to the casual reader by the habit of - in an act of sham confidentiality - not printing the original question but simply the answer. Here are a few examples from the paper of one hundred years ago - the 22nd April 1917.
(Highbury) - (Rheumatism) : Wear warm woollen stockings and stout soled shoes. Avoid sweets, sugar, and have the feet rubbed every night with some of the following embrocation - Lin terebinth acet (this turns out to be a mixture of turps, camphor and lemon juice).....FRANGIPANI
: Nothing can be done for this except a rather severe operation to cure the fistula. Should be inclined to put up with the discomfort......INQUIRER
: Unsuitable for publication, read rules.DRUMMER
: Wash the child's head once a week with powdered borax and hot water instead of soap ..... TREBLIG
: She might try the vaccine treatment and can be no worse after it.....GEORGE
(Surrey) : Impossible to do this ....GEORGE
(Tufnell Park) : A teaspoon of cod liver oil daily during cold weather is very good .... Wear woollen underclothing and get what outdoor exercise you can ....HUGO
: Answer as for George (Surrey) ....TROUBLED
(Portland) : There is no reason to worry; it is nothing unusual at your age.....STUDENT
: There is nothing for this trouble ....ANXIOUS
: As for "Student" ....THACKER
(Giddiness) : Your stomach is clearly out of order and you must have very light meals, no stimulants and plenty of time over your food. Drink hot water on rising and going to bed ....HAIR
: We don't recommend dye, and nothing else could do what you require ....DIGESTION
(Wilts) : Drink a glass of hot water every night at bedtime and eat your food slowly and masticate thoroughly ....
I realise that a whole century has elapsed since the onset of these symptoms, but just in case any of the sufferers are still around I would like to wish them continued good health, Could I just add to both Hugo and George (Surrey) that medical science has advanced a lot in the last hundred years so it might well be possible to do it now! And finally, if Inquirer would care to get in touch with me I will happily publicise his or her problem in this more enlightened era when few things are unsuitable for publication.