Dysentery. Bloody Flux. Colitis.
This is an inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the lower or large bowels. The small bowels begin at the stomach, and are eight or ten yards long; being largest near the stomach, and diminishing in size as they approach their termination in the caecum. The lower or large bowels are two or three times as large as the small ones, and from their junction with the latter, they extend about six feet to the outlet, or anus. The large bowels are composed of the coacum, the colon, and the rectum. The rectum is about one foot in length.
In most cases of dysentery, the rectum, and about half the adjoining portion of the colon, experience the chief force of the inflammation. Sometimes the whole of the colon and coacum are affected. Sometimes the mucous membrane lining these is ulcerated, and, becoming wholly disorganized, passes off in shreds.
Symptoms. The disease comes on with loss of appetite, costiveness, lassitude, shivering, heat of skin, and quick pulse. These are followed by griping pains in the bowels, and a constant desire to pass their contents. In general the passages are small, composed of mucus mixed with blood. These passages are attended and followed by severe gripings and inclination to strain, learnedly called tormina, and tonesmus. They are sometimes, in the early stages, attended by nausea and vomiting. The natural feces, which do not pass off much, are small in quantity, and formed into round, compact balls, or irregular, hardened lumps. This tenesmus, or great desire to strain, will continue, perhaps increase, for several days the discharges being mostly blood in some cases, and chiefly mucus in others. Having generally but little odor at first, these discharges become, as the disease advances, exceedingly offensive.
Causes. Dysentery is very frequently caused by sudden changes from hot to cold, by which sweating is suddenly checked, and the blood repelled from the surface. Hot climates, and dry, hot weather are predisposing causes. All green, unripe, and unwholesome food, and indigestible food of every sort, may induce it.
Treatment. In mild cases give a tablespoonful of castor oil and two teaspoonfuls of paregoric, mixed, once a day. Sometimes, in place of the above, a dose of rochelle powder, dissolved in water, and eleven or twelve drops of camphor, may be taken. A moderate quantity of flaxseed or slippery elm tea, may be taken as a drink, and the bowels be well emptied by an injection of starch.
For this type of diarrhea as well as for most of those that precede it the following prescription is most valuable: Subgallate of bismuth, 4 drachms or teaspoonfuls, salol, 1/2 drachm, paregoric, 6 drachms, tincture of camphor, 2 drachms, compound tincture of cardamon, 3 ounces. A teaspoonful in a little water every three hours.
The patient should not be allowed to sit up, and must be kept very still, and be allowed only a very scant diet, as flour porridge, well boiled, rice water, etc.
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