THE jaundice is a very common disease, and to be known need9 only to be seen; but inasmuch as it may be but a symptom rather than a disease per se, it behooves one to be careful that some bidden disorder be not preying upon the system. Among the more common affections which give rise to jaundice are gastro duodenal catarrh, frequently affecting children, obstruction of the gall ducts by thick bile or mucus, or by gallstones; cancer, chronic form of liver complaints, and some form of blood diseases.
Symptoms. The most prominent symptoms are, yellowness of the skin and whites of the eyes, saffron colored urine, and whitish or clay colored stools. So full is the urine of bile, that a piece of white linen dropped into it receives a bright yellow tinge.
Besides these symptoms, there are impaired appetite, a loathing Of food, the sense of a load at the pit of the stomach, sourness of stomach, sometimes sickness and vomiting, a bitter taste in the mouth, disinclination to move about, sleepiness, a dull pain in the right side, which is increased by pressure.
The entire body of a person who has died of jaundice, including bones, muscles, and membranes, are found to be full of bile, and colored yellow.
Explanation. The bile flows into the upper bowel, a little below the stomach, through a duct or tube about as large as a goose quill. This little tube or vessel receives the bile from a smaller tube, called the hepatic duct, and from another which goes to the gall bladder, called the cystic duct.
These little tubes sometimes get obstructed or plugged up by sticky, thickened, or hardened bile, or by gall stones, formed in the liver; and the bile, finding no outlet through its natural channels, is taken up by the absorbents, distributed over the system, and produces the yellowness we witness. When these ducts and the gallbladder are filled and stretched by this thickened and hardened bile, they become tender and sore. Hence the sore feeling in the side when pressure is made.
There is another explanation of the way in which the yellowness of jaundice is produced, and it matters not whether it or the one just given be adopted. It is this: The bile is formed by the blood, and not by the liver. The office of the liver is to draw or strain off the bile from the blood. And when this organ, is inflamed, or gets slug. &h and will not work, the blood is not relieved of its yellow freight. The bile accumulates, and in attempting to escape through other channels, it lodges in the various tissues, particularly in the skin.
Treatment. An infusion of thoroughwort, drunk freely every clay, is a valuable remedy. The inner bark of the barberry steeped in cider, or this article compounded with others (286), (287), win be found excellent.
The diet should be plain, wholesome, and nourishing, but composed mostly of vegetable articles, particularly green vegetables and berries when they are to be had. C
old water should be the principal drink; or drink and medicine may be combined in the shape of three drops of muriatic acid, and two drops of nitric acid, dissolved in a tumbler of water slightly sweetened. This is generally a pleasant drink, and will assist very much in the cure.
The warm bath once or twice a week, and the alkaline sponge bath every day, with smart friction, must not be omitted.
When jaundice is caused by the passage of gallstones through the bile duct, there is sometimes terrible pain and suffering, the stone, occasionally, being as large as a nutmeg, and forcing its way through a quill sized tube. So great is the distress that the patient sometimes rolls upon the floor in agony. To alleviate this pain, large doses of opium, laudanum, or morphine, are required. A large teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in a tumblerful of hot water is an excellent remedy if drunk at a single draught. It relieves the acidity of the stomach, and acts as a fomentation to the internal seat of the pain. Mustard poultices, or warm fomentations, over the seat of the pain, are required. The warm bath is excellent.
The acid bath, made by mixing three parts of muriatic acid with two parts of nitric acid, and adding as much of this mixture to water as will make it about as sour as weak vinegar, is valuable in jaundice. Only a quart of water need be taken; and the solution should be applied with a sponge. It is of the right strength, if it produce a slight tingling of the skin.
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