Home About TB TB History Human Impact Timeline People Profiles Sanatorium Age Preventing TB Finding TB Trea��ting TB International TB Today Index

  Treatments of Tuberculosis

 Bed Rest

Sanatorium patients "chase cure" while resting in bed out on the porch where much fresh air is available.

 Bed Rest

The most common treatment of tuberculosis, and the foundation of sanatorium treatment was simple bed rest. Here, the simple logic of this treatment is explained by a sanatorium doctor in the Valley Echo in the 1930s:

TB patients on bed rest at the Saskatoon San rest comfortably while waiting for a visit of the King and Queen (1939).

"Any injured part of the body heals if put to rest. A broken leg is put on a splint to hold it steady and keep it at rest. A knife-cut must be stiffly bandaged; otherwise the wound tears apart again each time the finger is bent.

Thus, rest is also the treatment for tuberculosis. When tuberculosis germs attack the lung, nature sets to work to stop the germs from spreading further. Certain living cells gather around the germs and form a kind of capsule around them.

A teacher brings school to the patients at the Saskatoon San.

This capsule, together with its contents, is called a tubercle. In time the tubercle becomes firm and tough and locks up the germs. Then the spread of germs is stopped, the damage is repaired and the person gets well. Of course, there are usually not just one, but thousand of tubercles in the sick lung; some already firm, others just beginning to form and others in a stage between.

The net-like capsule that forms around the germs is at first very delicate, like a spider’s web. A slight pull may tear it apart. Deep and rapid breathing is likely to tear the newly-formed network as fast as it is formed. How can the lung be rested so that the healing may go on undisturbed? Sleeping or waking, we must breathe, but the work of the lung can be greatly eased by slowing down the body.

– National Tuberculosis Association quoted in the 1944 Valley Echo [volume 25(12), page 7]