The Revolution in Medicine: The Discovery of Microbiology by Louis Pasteur

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 2198 |

Pages: 5|

11 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

Words: 2198|Pages: 5|11 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

Medicine as we know it has drastically changed over the last decade. Starting to emanate during the Industrial Revolution, medicine has saved lives and increased access to proper care, and improved the quality of life as we know it. Medicine as we know it, has assisted in a positive uprising in the average life expectancy, which back in the 1800s, was only age 36. With people living into their 90s and 100s now, there’s one thing to thank, and that’s the advancement in medical science. But before medicine could advance as it did, life before modern medicine was completely different. There are a few practices that surgeons and doctors underwent to help patients, one being drilling holes into the skull of the patient to relieve neurological stress and problems.

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The procedure is called Trepanning, it was always done on people who were considered acting novel or abnormally. The belief was that, if a hole was drilled into the patient's head completely down to the surface of the brain’s tissue, then it would get rid of any seizures or any mental disorders. Some neurologists suggested that in the 1870s this procedure was done to keep spirits away and from keeping them inside people’s brains. Other neurologists suggested that the procedure was used for relieving swelling and pressure buildup in the skull after head injuries. Another procedure that was used as Cupping. Cupping is where the patient has a heated cup placed on certain areas of the body. Then, the cup is left there for 15 minutes so that it could leave a visible mark. There are two ways in which Cupping is done, with dry and or wet methods. The wet method includes small incisions on the skin to let the blood flow while everything is going on. A third procedure would be the use of leeches. The use of leeches first emerged back in ancient India. How the method works is that leech saliva has anesthetic properties, which is why medical procedures were virtually painless for the patients.

There are also dangerous chemicals and drugs that were used for the patients. In today’s day and age, mercury has named a toxin. Back then, it was used in the late twentieth century. There are three types of mercury, Inorganic Mercury, Organic Mercury, and Liquid Mercury. The only none dangerous form of mercury is the Inorganic Mercury compounds that are formed when the mercury combines with elements besides carbon, such as chlorine, sulfur, or oxygen. Inorganic mercury was used as an antiseptic at one point but is now for cosmetic usage.

Organic Mercury and Liquid Mercury are especially dangerous. Liquid Mercury decimates when in room temperature, it fills wherever it is up with very small and invisible mercury atoms that are scentless. If the atoms are absorbed, then, it will go to the lungs first, and then to the brain and blood. Organic Mercury can proliferate in the body and has the potential to cause blindness, memory loss, numbness, seizures, and even death. Cocaine was a drug used for patients back then. It was used for toothaches, the first official use of the drug was in 1884, where it was used as an anesthetic during surgery. It soon expanded into the market in form of toothache drops, lozenges, and wine. In the early 1900s, a safer, not as powerful version of the drug was created such as Novocaine. Another drug that was used is heroin. It was used as a cough medicine for children. Originally, codeines should be the supplement for cough medicine but diamorphine was added into the codeine by a mistake and then heroin was created. It was highly used in the pharmaceutical industry until 1924 where it was finally banned.

Before antipsychotic medicines, doctors would perform lobotomies on patients with psychological conditions and mental disorders. Antipsychotics are tranquilizers that are a form of medication that used to handle psychosis. Lobotomies are surgical operations where the prefrontal lobe is performed. Neurologists would bring into vogue the procedure in America and say it can cure schizophrenia, depression, and much more. How the procedure worked is that the doctor operating on the patient would stick a slender, sharp tool into the patient's eye socket’s tear duct far enough until it hit the bones. Then, the doctor would use a hammer and ever so lightly tap onto the tool until it broke into the skull area protecting the prefrontal cortex. Lastly, the doctor would move the tool around, clearing the bone and destroying any brain fiber around it. Before the antibiotic, Penicillin, mold was used to treat wounds. Dating back to the Ancient Egyptians, people would put moldy bread in poultices to treat sores and infections. In 1929, penicillin was reconstructed and made properly.

Discovering new ways to improve medicine never happened overnight. It was a step-by-step process, where once one thing is brought up to exist, then it leads to more and more ideas. Here is how modern medicine could become the advanced saving grace that it is today. Starting in the 19th century, scientists have a breakthrough with the 'Germ Theory”. It helped prove the principles of hygiene and:: antisepsis in treating wounds. Numerous breakthroughs throughout the 19th and 20th centuries were focused around infection control. By the end of the 20th century, death by infection had dropped down from 30% to 4%.

There is one specific scientist to give credit to and that’s Louis Pasteur. Louis Pasteur was a chemist and microbiologist. He worked on a task with his team, alongside Claude Bernard who was also a scientist, to find reasons why there were problems affecting the local industries. Pasteur explained that bacteria played a factor in why common store-bought commodities such as wine, beer, and milk, would go sour. A solution for this would be either boiling or cooling the bacteria would dispose of it. Pasteur was almost certain that pathogen attacks came from the outside, putting the Germ Theory of disease into play. However, to Pastures disapproval, many scientists did not believe that small, microscopic creatures could do such harm to a person or even if possible, kill a human being or any other species furthermore, Pasteur insisted that numerous diseases such as smallpox, cholera, and chickenpox, occur when germs enter the body, thus, enabling him to develop vaccines.

Antibiotics showcase the very pinnacle of human innovation and are the reason for the way that countries are outside of the U.S. are prospering well too. During the 1950s, antibiotics were once referred to as “wonder drugs” because they could convert bacterial infections to conditions that were curable. Penicillin was also popularized during WWII for being a treatment for syphilis and wounds of course. With the antibiotic having a high use rate during these times, it would lead a spew in the healthcare industry. Before the discovery of antipsychotic medicine, patients would receive psychoanalysis, although many of them did not. In the 1940s, scientists would start exploring psychopharmacology and developing new compounds to treat mental illness, for example, in 1926 acetylcholine was thought to be a neurotransmitter, in 1937, antihistamines were identified.

Various types of therapy such as insulin coma therapy and electroconvulsive therapy were used to help patients with mental illnesses. In the early 1950s, learning how DNA was structured was finally figured out. At first, geneticists did not know how DNA worked until the double helix discovery by James Watson and Francis Crick. Immunity. It didn’t take long for doctors and scientists to realize that the immune system utilizes the pattern of HLA antigens on cells as a unique biological necessity. If unrecognized by the human body, the HLA antigens on attack the unrecognizable cell which results in the creation of antibodies and other substances by the host.

Of course, with medicine advancing and doing good for the lives of people, alongside those advancements come with negative side effects as well.

One example would be losing the natural immunity in the body to infectious illnesses. The absurdity of action by medical scientists making the effect of which is to weaken rather than strengthen the capacity of the human race for survival may take another toll. People living in highly developed populations may be put in significant danger by the removal, for even a short period, of health safeguards to which they have become accustomed to. Vaccination against diseases, water purification systems, application of sanitation requirements, and education in personal hygiene has created a relatively benign environment in advanced countries. But people living in such favorable circumstances fail to realize and gain the natural immunities of whom survive the hazards of unprotected environments. When the discovery of the Salk vaccine in reducing polio disease among American children was a success when used in 1955, it was taken for granted that it would be an aid to children everywhere. But the World Health Organization cautioned against mass vaccination in countries with poor public health facilities, where most of the population had already gathered up a natural immunity while in the early ages of birth. It was recognized that in highly developed countries, polio had been striking the elderly, but in those poorer areas, the infection was short almost entirely to babies. A mass inoculation program would greatly reduce the natural destruction of the poliovirus and might lead to an outbreak of the disease if artificial immunity from the vaccine was not regularly renewed.

Detrimental side effects of wonder drugs. “Wonder Drugs,” started in 1936 with the sulfanilamides and continued through a constantly expanding list of new compounds. This has been a key factor in cutting down death rates from infections, as for many other beneficial discoveries in medicine. Side-effects have become a consideration in drug research. They may not appear at all in many persons who take the wonder drugs but they definitely do appear frequently.

In 1956, The Food and Drug Administration documented 800 hospitals and 1,600 doctors on their experience with antibiotics. The survey showed that various disturbances ranging from mild to fatal had afflicted a vast number of patients. There were life-threatening reactions to antibiotics that were reported as a shock, super-infections, and severe skin reactions. These reactions involved disturbances in the blood, the skin, kidneys, the heart, and the nervous system. Some opened ways for infections more serious than the original illness. Cortisone was also a highly used drug for arthritis. Cortisone, proven to be valuable only a few years ago as the great hope for people who have suffered from arthritis, has proved to have side effects so undesirable as greatly to limit its use. The drug may interfere with the excretion of sodium and potassium from the body, raise blood pressure, aggravate peptic ulcers, or even weaken bone structure. Diabetics and sufferers from kidney or heart disease may suffer an aggravation of their condition, while some patients develop psychological abnormalities.

Even the milder drugs presented hazardous if taken uncontrollably. An overdose of aspirin can kill a person. Tranquilizers at first were the answer to reducing the effects of stress on the human system, but soon raised alarm to great numbers of people being rendered listless; suicides were also a depressant effect. The vogue for antihistamines faded years later because of mild but discomfiting side effects. People who drive vehicles were warned against taking antihistamines because it might cause drowsiness or mental confusion. All of these drugs are still medically useful, but none of which were proven to be a sovereign remedy.

These negative side effects can also undeveloped countries. Lowered mortality among young people in underdeveloped countries, has given these countries unusually youthful populations. Not only have medical advances been too recent to bring an accumulation of elderly people, but the mortality gains of younger people have not been manipulated by declines in birth rates. With high increases of crude birth rates in countries, medicine will be made more towards the new life being brought into the world, thus making elderly people more vulnerable to diseases if not treated correctly.

Improvements in health status in the past situations have made acquaintance with gains in social and economic spheres. They have brought with them, steadily improving standards of living and have tended to sap the birth rate percentage. Though there are multiple parts of the world in today’s age, where the high crude birth rates and high crude death rates have had an indisposed history with one another, the beneficial aftermath of modern medicine are being confabulated without calling into play the forces which curtailed the birth rate in western nations.

The growing inconsistency between the has and the have-not nations has amplified the national population policies. Such countries must struggle with a high percentage of child-dependency and have not fully compensated for their minor old-age dependency. Surely having the sheer growth of the world population results in large parts from the increasing potency of medicine in curbing the terminal powers of disease and poverty, will raise some unanswerable questions for the future.

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To conclude, medicine as we know it has significantly improved and bettered the lives of your everyday civilians by making cures for diseases such as schizophrenia, smallpox, and influenza, creating antibiotics in order to fight bacterial infections, and new procedures for diagnosing patients. Medicine has advanced through the years but also came with aftereffects as well.  

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The Revolution in Medicine: The Discovery of Microbiology by Louis Pasteur. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from
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