So, why exactly did people in medieval Europe contract dangerous health issues? Today, we can easily contract common and dangerous diseases. Some health issues are contagious, like the flu, some aren’t, like cancer. Today, we understand how we contract most health issues, but what about the people in medieval Europe? How did they contract health issues? Animals (like rats) that were infected, passed on diseases and plagues to humans. In dirty, crowded areas of medieval Europe, rats carried infected fleas. If an infected rat died, the infected flea would jump onto a human and bite the human’s skin. Then the human would contract the disease that the flea had.
Diseases were also passed on from person to person, through bodily fluids such as saliva. When a person coughed (without covering their mouth), the health issue would be spread to someone else through their cough. The causes of health issues mentioned above are good explanations, but did people in medieval Europe understand those causes; or did they think differently? People in medieval Europe did not have much knowledge about how illnesses were caused, most of the time they thought that if someone contracted a disease, it meant that God was not pleased with them. There were also other theories about what caused illnesses, Astronomers blamed the planets going out of place. Physicians also had their own ideas of how illnesses were caused, their work was based on their little knowledge about the human body. Some physicians blamed bad smells to being the reason why someone contracted an illness, so they created a treatment for taking away bad smells.
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Other physicians thought bad luck caused medical illnesses. Doctors in medieval Europe occasionally checked a person’s urine to see if there was any imbalance. They did this because they believed that the human body had four fluids (humours), and if the fluids became unbalanced, it was thought that you were ill.