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Source: Papers On Health
At the outset, it must ever be remembered that this is not
a disease. It is a natural growth, and often is accomplished without
any trouble at all. It is, however, a comparatively quick growth,
accomplishing much in a little time, as a plant in flowering. This
rush of growth in one place draws upon the vitality available for
general purposes in the child's body, and if this vitality is not very
large, trouble ensues. Diarrhoea, cold feet, and lack of spirit and
appetite thus arise. If at this stage the lower limbs and body be
carefully fomented (see Fomentation), all trouble may cease at once;
at least a very great deal will be done to relieve it. Give three
teaspoonfuls of warm water, slightly sweetened with pure CANE SYRUP
(see), three times a day. A little of the confection of senna will do
instead of this if desired. The fomentation must never be so hot or so
long at a time as to cause discomfort. Irritation is bad for a teething
infant, and all must be done soothingly if success is to be gained.
Also it will not do to foment and rub with oil a feverish child. Such
cases must be treated differently, as we shall see, and it is easy to
distinguish them from cases without fever. Meantime we would say that
in many cases where vital force is low without fever, the treatment by
fomentation as described is of great value.
In regard to the artificial "cutting" of the gum by surgical
instruments, we would say that such should only be resorted to when the
tooth is very near the surface indeed, and by a careful surgeon who
knows what he is about. The irritation in the gums which makes it
thought of at all can be usually allayed by simple means. Let the
mother dip her finger in good vinegar and water, just strong enough to
slightly smart the lips, and rub it on the irritated gum. This can of
course be done often, and is most powerfully soothing. It may indeed do
all that is required. But if more general symptoms appear, such as
sleeplessness and heat in the head, cooling of the head is required.
Have two little caps made of thick cotton cloth, one slightly larger,
so as to fit on above the other on the child's head. Wring the smaller
out of cold (but not ice-cold) water, and put it on. Press it gently on
the head, and if the heat and restlessness continue, cool it again,
perhaps twice or three times. When the restlessness is relieved, leave
the damp cap on the head, and place the dry one on over it. If the heat
returns, repeat the process. This treatment, though a mere cooling of
the brain, has saved ere now both reason and life, and should never be
lightly thought of or despised.
Often the stomach is seriously disordered during teething, both
vomiting and purging resulting. In small degree these are not
dangerous, but they are better avoided. If severe, they are the
beginning of often fatal trouble.
To quiet the excited bowels, nothing is better than enemas of cool
water. It need not be too cold, but just a little under blood heat,
with a little vinegar added. One tablespoonful of vinegar to a pint of
water. Also a "baby's bottle," prepared with water at blood heat (98
deg.), without any milk or sugar, will greatly assist the stomach if
given to be sucked. In such cases infants usually suck this water
greedily. It is most soothing to the stomach. Half a teacupful at a
time is enough. In the evening wash the child with warm water and SOAP
(see) rub all over with warm olive or almond oil, especially the back
up and down. Then place a BRAN POULTICE (see) over all the back,
taking care to have it just comfortably warm. When this is fastened on,
an ordinary pocket-handkerchief wrung out of cold water is folded and
laid over the bowels. This is changed for a fresh one as soon as
heated, and gently pressed all over. The milk, if the child is
brought up on the bottle, may be given now, reduced in strength for a
time. This treatment will often cure without enemas, which may then be
dispensed with. Great improvement in health may be expected after a few
days of such treatment. A cool handkerchief, similar to that on the
bowels, may also be applied to the head, if that is heated.
Some form of head eruption often comes on after a long time of heated
head. A little sour buttermilk, vinegar, or weak acetic acid, not
stronger than to cause a slight smarting tried in the nurse's
nostrils, will relieve almost instantly the itching which accompanies
this. If strong acid be used, matters are made worse, and great pain
caused. The acid, weak as we have described, at once neutralises the
irritating substance exuded from the eruption. It also prepares the way
for a cure. If astringent lotions are employed, drying the sore, and
driving it in on the brain, serious injury may be caused. But if
healing takes place under soaking with weak acid, no such result need
be feared, for this simply removes the unhealthy state of the part.
Water, especially hard water, must be absolutely kept away from such
a head. No more must be used than is necessary to dilute the acid; and,
if it can be got, the acid of buttermilk is decidedly preferable. The
whole body, when feverish, may be cooled in a tepid bath, several times
a day if necessary, having the water just at blood heat.
Besides these outside effects, teething often causes brain disorders.
(See various articles on Children.) The infant should be watched
carefully, and if the eye be dull, and the head heavy with feverish
symptoms, the head should be cooled at once as above directed, and if
the feverish symptoms are not marked, and the feet cold, the feet,
legs, and lower body should be wrapped in a good warm fomentation.
Where the trouble has gone so far that insensibility comes on, the
treatment is the same, only the cloths had better be wrung out of
iced water if available. It is important to not only lay the cloths
on the head, but to press them. Take the little head in your two
hands, and so bring the cool cloth close to every part of it, while you
lift up a prayer for help from the Great Healer. Keep at this till your
feeling tells you it is time to change the cloth. Take off the hot one
and put on the cool one. Go on with the gentle pressure again. It does
require work, but it is well worth work to save a precious life. You
must so work that you will cause the least disturbance possible to the
little sufferer. It may be you may require to keep this up for many
hours, but you will probably find that some signs of sense appear ere
you have gone on very long, and you may see that natural sleep has
succeeded the drowse that lay in the worn-out brain. If so, you will
allow the head to lie still in the cold cloth, and change only when it
gets very warm. If natural heat has been fully restored to the legs and
feet, you will let these rest also.
We know of a case where the brain seemed gone, and the medical man
abandoned hope; but the head was cooled with ice cloths, while the feet
and legs were kept in a hot fomentation, for a whole night, and all
danger was passed by the morning. So that, even in very bad cases, this
should be perseveringly tried.
For diet, in teething, the child must get easily digested food, and all
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