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Source: Papers On Health
This forms a severe feature in many cases of illness, and has
to be treated variously according to its kind. It may be due first to
dryness in the membranes of the throat and stomach; secondly it may
be due to a concentrated or deranged state of the juices of the
body; thirdly, it may be the result of a burning heat in the body. It
will not be difficult for a careful person to say in any case which of
them is the cause. The nature of the disease will indicate it. A little
cold water may be given first. If this fails, a cold cloth over the
stomach (see Changing Treatment) may be tried. If these are not
successful, a few tablespoonfuls of hot water may be given. The first
of these meets the simple dryness, the second cures the burning heat,
the third meets the case of concentrated and deranged juices in the
body. A few drops of vinegar, lemon juice, or other fruit acid (see
Drinks), will often greatly assist the hot water in its duty. All
alcoholic drinks are worse than useless in real thirst. Any power they
possess is either due to the effect they have on the artificial thirst
they create or to the water they contain. And the danger of rousing or
creating the dreadful desire of the drunkard is so great, that they
ought never to be given to relieve a patient's thirst.
If the cold water is known, from any cause, to be dangerous to the
patient, then hot water will do equally well. If the thirst arises from
some drug which has been taken, then hot water should always be given.
Again, the locality of the dryness causing thirst indicates the best
method of quenching it. If only the mouth and tongue be dry, then it
will be sufficient to wash out the mouth with the water, or acid drink,
not swallowing, so as to avoid unnecessary loading of the stomach. If
throat and mouth are cool, and only the stomach burns, then the cold
towel above that is the best treatment.
There is no need, except in very special cases, for iced water. Tap
water is generally cool enough, unless stored in heated cisterns. In
this case a little ice may be used to bring it down to a temperature of
45 deg. or so, but not below 40 deg.
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