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The almost universal use by the profession and the laity of laxatives and cathartics in the treatment of acute upper respiratory tract infections (so-called "colds") suggested an investigation to determine how large a rôle this method of therapy played in shortening the duration of these conditions.
A mild epidemic of acute respiratory infections—rhinitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, laryngitis, tracheitis and bronchitis — occurring during January and February, 1923, furnished an opportunity to investigate this problem among the employees of a large industrial organization situated in Chicago.
In most of the cases under observation there was a more or less generalized infection of the whole upper respiratory tract before the termination of the illness. The usual complaints were general malaise, "cold" in the nose, chilliness, headache, sore throat and cough. Fever was present in most cases, but in a few this one symptom alone remained absent. A definite leukocytosis was present in
Macdonald H. CATHARSIS IN THE TREATMENT OF "COLDS". JAMA. 1923;80(19):1375. doi:10.1001/jama.1923.26430460002010b