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Academia and the Profession |

At Swim-Two-Birds

Flann O'Brien
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Submitted by: Rory O'Connor, MB; Greystones, Ireland

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1998;128(11):921. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-128-11-199806010-00011
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What is alcohol? All medical authorities tell us it is a double poison − an irritant and a narcotic poison. As an irritant it excites the brain, quickens the action of the heart, produces intoxication and leads to degeneration of tissues. As a narcotic, it chiefly affects the nervous sytem; blunts the sensibility of the brain, spinal cord and nerves; and, when taken in sufficient quantity, produces death. When alcohol is taken into the system, an extra amount of work is thrown on various organs, particularly the lungs. The lungs, being overtaxed, become degenerated, and this is why so many inebriates suffer from a peculiar form of consumption called alcoholic phthisis − many, many cases of which are, alas, to be found in our hospitals, where the unhappy victims await the slow but sure march of an early death.



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