Acute Inflammation of the Liver. Hepatitis.
THE liver is the largest gland in the body. It lies in the right side, and at the top of the great abdominal cavity, directly under the midriff, and lapping upon the stomach. Its office was supposed to be to take the superabundant carbon out of the blood. This carbon it unites with other elements and forms bile, the peculiar bitter substance which is poured into the upper bowel, and greatly aids digestion.
The liver is liable to become inflamed from several causes, such as gravestones, external violence, suppressed secretions, hot climates, inflammation of the duodenum, etc.
Symptoms. These are sympathetic fever, with pain, and a sense of tension in the right side, inability to lie on the left Side, difficulty of breathing, a dry cough, vomiting, and hiccup.
The pain is acute and lancinating generally, though sometimes dull and tensive. When sharp, it is like the stitch of pleurisy, and it indicates that the peritoneum which covers the liver is inflamed. When dull, it is the body of the organ which is suffering. When the convex surface of the liver is the seat of the disease, the pain is apt to run up to the right collarbone, and to the top of the right shoulder. Breathing, coughing, and lying on the left side, increase the pain. A soreness is felt by pressing over the liver. The pulse is full, hard, and strong, the bowels are costive, and the stools are clay colored, owing to not being tinged with bile, this having stopped flowing. The tongue is covered with a yellow, dark brown., or even black coat, and there is a bitter taste in the mouth.
Explanation. The bile, secreted by the liver, is poured into the upper bowel, and gives the brown or yellow color to the contents of the bowels. When the liver is inflamed, it cannot work, it secretes little or no bile, and the discharges from the bowels lose their color. The bile is slightly laxative, and when it ceases to flow into the bowels, they become bound or costive. When the liver does not work, the bile has to be taken out of the blood by the kidneys, and the urine becomes of a deep yellow color. Much of it goes out through the skin, too, which is likewise yellow, and the sweat becomes so yellow as to stain the linen.
Treatment. Flaxseed poultices applied over the liver an very good. Purgatives will also need to be used pretty freely at first. Those which produce watery stools, will be of the greatest service.
Or, in the milder cases, a mustard poultice may be applied over the whole side, and even along the spine.
Frictions over the stomach and liver with dilute nitro muriatic acid, and a footbath of the same, will sometimes do well. The acid should be reduced with water to about the strength of sharp vinegar. Water a little soured with this same acid makes an excellent drink for the patient.
Perspiration should be induced by the spirit vapor bath, and kept up gently by the tincture of the American hellebore, from three to ten drops every hour. Or, the same thing may be done by prescriptions.
When the urine is small in quantity and red, give some diuretic, root, pumpkinseeds, or trailing arbutus. as infusion of marshmallow
The diet should be rice water, gruel, and toast water. While getting up, it may gradually be improved, and some light tonics be added to it.
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