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Source: Papers On Health
We feel urged, in first considering this sore and very
common trouble, to quote the old adage that "prevention is better than
cure." Many people laugh at wettings, and some foolish young ones even
seek exposure. We would impress upon all such that the effects of
exposure may be, and often are, cumulative: that is, you may escape any
direct effect for years, and then find your recklessness end in
rheumatism for the rest of your life. Let care, then, be taken to avoid
wettings, unless these lie in the way of duty. Change clothes as
speedily as possible when they are wet, and encourage the skin to all
healthy action by proper care and exercise. Even with the skin all
right, a wise man will not act in a foolhardy way, but if he must get
wet and chilled, he will probably not suffer very much.
We would strongly recommend the use of Kneipp linen underclothing
(see Underwear). It powerfully stimulates the skin, and, by
conducting away the perspiration, prevents chills. We have known many
who suffered severely from rheumatism being quite cured by the use of
this material. It is as comfortable as it is hygienic.
But supposing the rheumatism does come on, it may be treated, in mild
cases, by gradual and steady moist heating. For the method of applying
this, see Fomentation and Armchair Fomentation. If the case is
comparatively a fresh one, there will be need for no more than this
fomenting, repeated several times at intervals of two to four hours.
Where the nervous system has been seriously affected, the fomentation
must be gradual, and the moist heat gently insinuated into the parts
affected. Where narcotics have been used, these must be given up if a
cure is to be hoped for.
In certain chronic cases, which are very largely nervous in their
origin, a powerful soothing influence is required. This is secured by
the use of soap lather (see Lather; Soap). Cover the back and head,
piece by piece, with this, rubbing it on and off four or five times.
Cover the fifth application with a soft cloth, and leave it on for the
day in the morning, and for the night in the evening, the patient being
in bed. Hot olive oil or occasionally cold drawn oil of mustard is
gently rubbed on the stiff parts; when this cloth is removed, gently
knead or squeeze the oil into the muscles. If during the lathering the
patient feels too cold, a little olive oil should be mixed with the
lather. A change to a dry climate from a damp one sometimes does a
patient good, but when that is not possible, great relief, and in many
cases cure, is to be had by this treatment.
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