Fever. is a disease which affects the system generally, and is characterized by more or less excitement of the circulation, increased heat, diminished strength, and, oftentimes, unnatural thirst. The degree of excitement is measured by the state of the pulse. Of this state, there are two characteristic indications: namely, frequency and tardiness. A pulse is frequent when its rapidity exceeds that of health; it is hard when its stroke resists the pressure of the finger with unusual force.
In health, the pulse of an adult beats from sixty to eighty times in a minute; that of children is more frequent. The pulsations of the heart of the unborn infant, as heard through the body of the mother, are one hundred and fifty in a minute. After birth, the pulse varies from one hundred and forty down to the standard of adult age. To appreciate hardness of pulse, experience is absolutely necessary.
The great activity of the circulation, in fever, is intimately connected with the heat and thirst, and tends directly to waste the energies and consume the strength of the patient. The heat of fever lessens or dries up the secretions, or different fluids of the body, which, in a state of health, are separated from the blood for various purposes. This is the cause of the dry skin, scanty urine, etc.
A crisis of fever is that period in its course when unfavorable symptoms give place to those of returning health.
A course of fever, or, in common language, a run of fever, is distinguished by a great variety of symptoms, which will be more particularly spoken of in the pages which follow.
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