The Summer Complaint of Infants. Cholera Infantum.
THIS is confined to the North American continent. It occurs in large cities during the hot season. Its subjects are infants between the ages of four and twenty months, occurring most frequently about the time of cutting the first teeth. It is one of the most fatal diseases of infants.
Symptoms. It begins with a profuse diarrhea, the stools being green or yellow, or more often light colored, and very thin. The stomach soon becomes very irritable, rejecting everything with violence. In some cases, vomiting and purging set in, the discharges from the bowels being without color or smell. The infant rapidly loses flesh, and is soon reduced to great languor and prostration. The pulse in the beginning is quick, small, and often tense. The tongue is covered with a white, slimy mucus. The skin is dry and harsh. The head and belly are hot. The feet and hands are either of the natural temperature, or cold. There is great thirst, and towards evening, fever. The belly is often a little swollen, and tender to the touch. Occasionally there is delirium, as indicated by wild and bloodshot eyes, violent tossing of the head, and attempts to bite and scratch the nurse.
Treatment. If possible, remove the child at once from the impure and heated air of the city to the cooler and purer air of the country. Or better, take it to the seashore or a short trip on the salt water. This will often give immediate relief. Be careful the child does not take cold. If this cannot be done, keep it in as large and dry a room as can be had, and take it often into the open air in clear weather. Confine the infant entirely to the breast, or, if weaned, let its food be tapioca, pure arrow root, rice flour and milk, and put it daily in a warm. or tepid bath, according as the skin is hot or cold. Give it gum water, or rennet whey, with a little gum arabic added to it.
These measures, if used early, will often cure the disease, without medicine. If the vomiting be obstinate, camphor and sulphuric ether (280) will generally give relief. The prescription for diarrhea will be valuable in this disease and in addition some stimulant like whiskey in doses of 5 drops to 30 drops according to age, had better be given every 3 or 4 hours. Men the vomiting is stopped, the most prompt remedy for the disordered bowels is the compound syrup of rhubarb and potassa. When the disease has become chronic, treat it the same as children's diarrhea. But if the discharges are sour, offensive and dark colored, pulverized charcoal (42), with tartrate of iron (71), will be suitable remedies. Rhubarb, leptandrin, etc. (28), will often answer a good purpose.
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