Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/516

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502
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ferent physicians, it is not necessary here to inquire. What chiefly concerns us now, having pointed out the principal causes of the disease, is to learn something of its symptoms, how in the absence of the doctor it should be treated, and what to do to avoid it.

The serious disturbance of all the functions occasioned by sunstroke results, as might be expected, in a great variety of symptoms. In a small proportion of cases, however, the attack is so sudden and so quickly fatal that little chance for the development or observance of symptoms is afforded. The patient suddenly falls, gasps a few times, and dies. But, in the majority of instances, premonitory symptoms are present. The more constant, as given by the best authorities, are great heat and dryness of skin, a varying degree of pain in the head, attended oftentimes with giddiness, congestion of the eyes, full, rapid pulse, which grows feeble and irregular as the disease advances, obstinate constipation, irritability of bladder, and great oppression or sense of weight about the region of the heart, with not unfrequently muscular weakness and a disinclination for exertion. If these symptoms continue, the patient soon passes into a state of profound insensibility. The pupils fail to respond to the action of light, and may be somewhat contracted, the breathing becomes hurried and difficult, and the action of the heart is irregular and tumultuous. Convulsions may come on early, or be postponed until late in the disease, or they may be absent altogether. Numerous minor and less constant phenomena have been recorded by different observers; but, when a person is suddenly attacked during exposure to great heat, the symptoms already enumerated will enable any one of ordinary intelligence to recognize the true character of the disease.

Only such measures of treatment will be suggested as any one of common-sense can apply; and they may be the means, if promptly resorted to, of ultimately restoring the patient, when, if nothing were done until the physician arrived, he might then have passed beyond the reach of help.

When the signs of an attack appear, the sufferer should be immediately taken to the nearest shade, preferably in the open air, but, at all events, where the freest ventilation can be secured. His body should at once be stripped, and the head, neck, and chest, continuously drenched with cold water. Let this be followed up, not timidly, but with boldness, until respiration is reestablished, after which it may be applied at short intervals, until a perceptible diminution of the temperature of the body has taken place, or until the doctor arrives. It is the great heat of the body that menaces life, and, the sooner this can be reduced into the neighborhood of the natural temperature, the better for the patient. In rare instances this free use of cold water, by the powerful impression it makes on the nervous system, excites convulsions, in which case it may be discontinued, and rubbing the surface with pounded ice resorted to. An injection of ice-cold water,