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Medical ArticlesWant Of Water
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Source: Papers On Health
In this fever, now known as a form of Typhoid, the
disease spreads a sort of blight over the nervous centres, and from the
first greatly lowers their power. The patient is too weak to bear the
powerful cooling recommended in Fever; there is also a tendency to
prolonged and "low" fever. First of all, in such a case, the feet and
legs must be fomented. Watch against burning the patient, but get as
good and powerful a heat as possible right up over the knees. Then
after about fifteen minutes the cooling of the head may proceed as in
fever. Both cooling and heating must proceed together.
We must think of not merely relieving, but of curing the patient, by
attacking the poisonous substance where it has lodged in the nerve
centres of the bowels. Pure water, with just as much acetic acid or
vinegar dropped into it as will make it taste the least sour, should be
given in tablespoonfuls (and hot) as frequently as the patient can take
it without discomfort. If possible it should be distilled water, or
rain water filtered, but certainly as pure and soft as can be procured.
There is no drug that can be prescribed that is equal to pure water,
and no acid better than common white vinegar. These three things--the
strong fomentation of the feet and legs, the cooling of the head, and
the dissolution of the poisonous substances by means of pure water, and
their counteraction by means of acid in very small strength--will do
wonders in gastric fever. The "turn" may be secured in a week instead
of three, if these things are skilfully and persistently applied. We
should say that the strong fomentation and cooling of the head should
not be done oftener than twice a day, and only once if the patient
feels too weak for twice. But as a general rule, the person who is ill
will wish these things at least twice a day. The sips of water should
be given, say in a dozen separate tablespoonfuls at a time, at least
thrice a day--oftener if desired by the patient.
For food there is nothing equal to good fresh buttermilk. All alcoholic
drinks are damaging in a high degree in such an illness as this. Sweet
milk, if somewhat diluted with good water, will do, but there is
nothing so good as the buttermilk fresh from the churn.
Absolute rest in bed is necessary, and no solid food should be given to
the patient until his temperature has been ten days at normal point.
All food given in the illness should be liquid enough to pass through
the meshes of a milk strainer. Care should be taken in this matter, as
death has often followed the taking of solid food, when otherwise
recovery would have come.
Milk should always form the largest portion of the diet, and may be
given with arrowroot or oatflour. Beef tea is of little use, and is
always to be avoided if there is a tendency to diarrhoea. Plenty of
cold water may always be given.
In a community which is visited by gastric fever as an epidemic this
fact is striking--only a portion of the people are affected by the
visitation. Here is one man who drinks the water which gives gastric
fever to another; that water goes into his stomach as it does into that
of his neighbour, and passes through his system the same, yet death is
the result in one case, and not even sickness or inconvenience in the
other. In the latter case the system has the power of resistance, and
our aim should be to increase this. Therefore we say by all means look
to the healthful state of the lungs and bowels when you have the least
reason to fear that bad water may bring gastric fever to you or yours.
If there is any tendency to constipation get some liquorice, and boil
it thoroughly with about half an ounce of senna leaves to a twopenny
stick. Strain well, and let all in any danger have a teaspoonful of
this thrice a day. It will do wonders in keeping matters in a good
state within. If possible, give a good rubbing all over once a week
with hot vinegar, and follow that up with warm olive oil. That will do
a great deal to keep things right outside. Take and give more rest than
usual to the toil-worn when such danger is near, and have as good food
provided for all as is possible. There may be danger in the air, and
still worse danger in the water to those whose vital force has got low,
while there is none in either to those whose systems are in good tune.
You are, perhaps, ready to ask if we care nothing about bad water?
Certainly; we care a great deal about it, as we do about bad air. By
all means condemn wells and streams that are corrupted, and insist on
the opening of better ones. Make it a first condition of having
anything to do with a place for habitation that it has good air and
good water. We are only pointing out the best safeguard when neither
the one nor the other can be insured.
In all cases where water is suspected, it should be boiled before use.
There is, in great numbers of persons, both old and young, what may be
called the natural aptitude of healing. They are kept back from trying
to help because it is regarded as so dangerous a thing to go near
fever, and also to interfere where only professional skill is legally
allowed. To apply such a remedy as that which we have here sketched for
gastric fever is perfectly safe in both senses. No medical man worthy
of being regarded will find any fault with it, and there is no danger
to either the patient or the person applying it.
The mode we have pointed out involves nothing that may not be easily
had by the very poorest. What is wanted is only one or two who shall be
Christian enough to care just a little for human bodies as well as
human souls, and who shall study such simple and accessible remedies,
and be ready to guide their fellow-creatures in a time of trouble.
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