Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/2057

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1851
NON-INFECTIOUS DISEASES

open air and a cold sponge in the morning are also helpful. The habit of taking an apple or an orange an hour beforebedtime will often effect a permanent cure. An occasional aperient may be required, and then Friedrichshall water, in the dose of a wineglassful taken fasting, may be employed. In children a similar treatment may be adopted, with such modification as the age will require, while in infants an altered diet and a little magnesia occasionally, mixed with the milk, will suffice.

Clysters or Enemata are now in frequent use in constipation. It is not, however, advisable to use them daily. Where they are employed, care should be taken to see that the fluid is bland in its nature, such as barley-water, thin gruel, linseed tea, or milk and water. Warm water by itself has a tendency to injure the mucus membrane of the bowel. The injection of a teaspoonful of glycerine is a simple and efficacious means of relieving the bowels; also glycerine suppositories.

Consumption.—This disease is called technically phthisis, a Greek word, meaning a wasting away, wasting being a common symptom in the latter stages of the disease.

Cause.—Consumption is a form of lung disease which is characterised by destruction and ulceration of the lung itself. It is caused by the growth and multiplication in the lung substance of the tubercle bacillus, discovered by Professor Koch. These bacilli produce inflammatory changes in the lung; tissue of an inferior kind is then deposited round the bacilli, and gradually invades the lung tissue proper. At a later stage ulceration and degeneration take place in this tissue and in the inflamed lung adjacent, resulting in the destruction of the lung by the formation of cavities in its substance. The blood that is often coughed up is a sign that destruction of the lung is present.

Symptoms.—The earliest symptoms of consumption are probably connected with digestion. The appetite becomes capricious, there are pains in the chest, some cough, often dry and hacking, with a small quantity of frothy expectoration. There is debility, flushing of the face and shortness of breath on slight exertion; at other times the countenance is pale, except for a hectic patch of red in the middle of the cheek. There is some fever at night, and a tendency to night-sweats. Very likely there is some spitting of blood. As the disease advances emaciation becomes more marked, and the fingers become clubbed at their ends. The night-sweats, diarrhoea and expectoration reduce the bodily strength and substance; at the same time the capricious appetite and the imperfect digestion leave the bodily supply very deficient. Usually, it the disease be not arrested, the patient dies of exhaustion.

Treatment.—The selection of the conditions under which the consumptive is to live is the first and most important item of the treatment. At different health resorts in Europe there are to be found people who have suffered all their lives from bad chests, but who, by moving from one resort to another, according to the season of the year, are able to