"In the time of Avicenna, the presentation of respiratory diseases, their treatment and their prognosis was much different than in modern times," says Hashemi. Mediaeval physicians had a greater reliance on history, physical examination (which was mostly based on visual observation), individual variation, environmental factors, diet, and so on, for diagnosis and treatment.
Even so, several of Avicenna's observations related to signs and symptoms, aggravating and relieving factors and the treatment of pulmonary disorders are still valid and can be explained by modern science. For example, one of the important symptoms in the diagnosis of asthma that Avicenna discusses is dyspnea during sleep that leads to awakening. Avicenna also observed plaster-like material in tuberculosis patients' sputum, which is now known as lithoptysis (stone spitting), where a patient coughs up calcified material due to perforated bronchial lymph node.
Despite many limitations and the lack of modern instruments in his day, Avicenna adopted a scientific approach to the diagnosis and treatment, not only of respiratory disorders, but also more generally to illnesses he treated and mentioned throughout the Canon of Medicine.
A Persian polymath, Avicenna (a widely-used Greek version of his name Abū 'Alī al-Husayn ibn) was a leading physician and philosopher who penned over 450 volumes, of which almost half have survived. During his lifetime (981 to 1037 AD), Avicenna was also an astronomer, chemist, geologist, logician, palaeontologist, mathematician, physicist, poet, psychologist, scientist and teacher. Canon of Medicine (al-Qanun fi al-Tibb), became a standard medical text, and was used across mediaeval Europe for 600 years.
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