- One of the most successful physicians in treating this dreaded disease gives the following directions for dealing with it. Mothers should accustom themselves and their children when young to examine the throat for indications of diphtheria, and for this purpose a "tongue depresser," represented in accompanying cut is much more convenient than a spoon, especially in the case of babies who are apt to resist having any thing thrust into their mouths. With this the tongue is easily drawn down, and does not slip from under it as it does from a spoon. It may be had from any druggist or dealer in surgical implements. The first yellowish white patches that indicate diphtheria appear on the tonsils on either side of palate, and mean danger and demand immediate and unremitted attention. If within reach send for a physician. The attack is almost as varied as is the temperament and constitution of the patient. Sometimes a slight feeling of illness is prevalent for a few days before the most serious attack. During this period drowsiness and chilliness appear, followed by feverishness, sometimes headache and aching of the limbs; at other times the attack comes on with a sudden faintness or an almost absolute prostration; while an almost universal symptom, and a very characteristic one, is a slightly swollen and tender condition of the glands at the angle of the lower jaw. The tonsils, one or both are red and swollen; sometimes they are swollen but are not red. In younger children an almost unmistakable sign, which is very general, is that the redness is of a rose color, while in older children or adults the color is a deep crimson or bright scarlet, over the whole throat as seen by opening the mouth, the throat being attacked with inflammation so chat it shows it. These symptoms may be more or less general, or to a great extent mixed or variable, according to the physical condition and temperament of the patient. After the appearance of this peculiar redness there is more or less swelling of the tonsils, at which time the false membrane first forms, and is semi-transparent. It can readily be seen by careful observation. As the disease wears on, this membrane, which is at first visible and semi-transparent, changes its color and becomes partially opaque, finally becomes thick, dark, and if blood is drawn into it turns almost black. When the change from a darkened opaque membrane commeness to turn black it is one of the first symptoms of a putrid stage of the disease, and when this change takes place there is little or no help and decomposition ensues. At this stage even all hope must not be abandoned, because sometimes bloody matter is vomited, which to a great extent influences the color of the membrane. According to the strength of the patient this membrane is sooner or later thrown off. This exfoliation or peeling off of the membrane sometimes takes place in every forty-eight to seventy-two hours, or about three days. At other times the progress of the disease is impeded by proper treatment. The life of the membrane is lengthy, and it may be from five to fifteen, and it has been known not to peel off under twenty days. Sometimes the membrane peels off in a few hours, forms again, each time going deeper into the tissues. In mild cases the disease shows itself in the fauces alone. Whatever may be the cause of diphtheria, most medical men agree upon an important point: That it comes from a poison in the blood; and that thorough cleanliness will not propagate it - we don't mean in the use of soap or water - but of proper diet, so that the stomach as well as the skin of the body shall be clean.
The time to begin fighting this disease is as soon as its nature is recognized. When the patches of false membrane first make their appearance on the tonsils, give as a cathartic, to a child of one year, a tea-spoon of Epsom salts; for five or six years old, double above quantity. Next, mix thoroughly One dram chlorate of potash, One and a half ounces of lime water, and One ounce of distilled water, and rub in a mortar until the chlorate of potash is perfectly dissolved; then add half an ounce pure glycerine. Give to a child one year old one tea-spoonful every hour in a little sweetened water. For a child five or six years old, or an adult, use two and a half ounces of lime water, and omit the distilled water, and give as a dose a tea-spoonful and a half for the child and two tea-spoonfuls for an adult. Do not wait for the cathartic to act before beginning with this remedy, but when it acts give the following every hour, also alternating with the above (with intervals of half an hour between doses of one or the other):
One dram chloride ferri (iron),
One and a half ounces distilled water,
One and a half ounces pure glycerine.
Mix thoroughly and give in sweetened water, and give as a dose the same quantity as of the first prescription, keeping up the treatment for two days. During the night, if the case is severe, the patient should be wakened to administer the medicine, particularly if the sleep is at all restless or unnatural.
For the first two days the disease may show no signs of abatement, but under this treatment, at the end of thirty-six hours, there ought to be improvement. The tendency of the fever is to return on the third day, and if the disease is not checked and the fever returns, it will be a fight for life, but if at the end of thirty-six hours there is evident improvement, give the medicines every two hours (alternately giving one or the other every hour) for several days. For a child old enough to use it, or for an adult, gargle well, before taking medicine or nourishment, with the following, well mixed:
Fifteen drops carbolic acid,
Six ounces lime water.
These remedies may be made up, corked securely, and kept in a dark place, ready for use, in cases where a family lives remote from a drug store, as time is an important element in treating this disease. For an outward application apply a mixture made of
A tablespoonful of camphor,
A half spoonful of turpentine,
A half spoonful of coal-oil.
(For a child add a tablespoon of sweet-oil.)
Apply this to the throat, high up under the ears and down to the chest; cover with dry flannels for a few minutes; remove, and if not red, apply mixture again, and repeat until the skin is well reddened. Then apply slices of fat salt pork (sewed on a piece of cloth), letting them cover well the front part of neck and extend up under the ears. The glycerine arrests putrefaction, while the lime-water dissolves the false membrane.