Epistaxis is bleeding from the nose. It may be due to some local condition, such as adenoids or inflammation of the nose. A blow on the nose or on the head will cause nose-bleeding sometimes. Some people have a sort of tendency to nose-bleeding on very slight provocation. It may occur in the course of some infectious fevers, such as whooping cough, and it is sometimes present in simple anaemia. Bright's disease, and certain lung and heart affections, may be accompanied by occasional haemorrhage from the nose.
Treatment at the time consists in keeping the patient quietly sitting still with the head up. Wet cloths applied over the nose, and cold to the base of the neck, will generally stop the haemorrhage. The nostril, however, may require to be plugged with cotton-wool. The cause of nose-bleeding ought always to be investigated. A tiny tumour, or some inflammatory condition of the nose, may account for the condition, and it is always wise to have anything of the sort put right. In anaemia, iron tonics will be required.
Erysipelas is a contagious disease of the skin, associated with high temperature. The cause is a microbe, or germ, which gets entrance into the tissues through a wound, or even a slight abrasion of the skin. People whose health is run down from debility or other causes are more susceptible to erysipelas, whilst in old people and infants the disease is very dangerous. It commonly occurs on the face, but may appear on the site of any wound under unhygienic conditions. In facial erysipelas a red spot generally appears, which increases in size and becomes very tender. It seems to advance as a sort of ridge or distinct edge, and the face is very much swollen and tender.
The skin eruption is associated with rise of temperature and other general symptoms, the patient often becoming delirious at night. The poison can be conveyed from one person to another very readily, and seems to hang about the bed-clothing and furniture of the sick-room. Strict hygienic conditions, therefore, must be observed, and there is no doubt that erysipelas is more prevalent in insanitary places. The patient must be isolated and provided with light, nourishing diet; whilst the skin condition has to be carefully treated with antiseptics.
Exophthalmic Goitre is a disease occurring in young women in which there is a swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck, protrusion of the eyeballs, and numerous nervous circulatory symptoms. Rapid pulse, difficulty in breathing, and a sense of suffocation are amongst the early symptoms. The patient may be nervous, irritable, or suffer from hysterical attacks, headache, and depression or excitement. The thyroid gland in front of the neck is enlarged, and later the eyeballs seem to protrude. The patient complains of general weakness and anaemia. The cause of the disease is not definitely known. It is said to be of nervous origin, in the sense that other members of the same family may suffer from epilepsy, hysteria, St. Vitus' dance, etc. Worry and mental strain are apt to bring on the disease. It is important to recognise the condition early, because proper medical treatment can do a great deal. Special drugs are required for the heart and nervous symptoms. Rest and freedom from worry, with regulated sleep and simple diet, certainly influence the disease for the better, but every case should be under the care of a medical man.
Faeeaehe, or Facial Neuralgia, is pain in the branches of the nerve supplying the skin of the face and the lining membrane of the mouth, nose, and eyelids. It is the commonest form of neuralgia, and is sometimes associated with a great deal of tenderness and redness of the face. Muscular twitchings and rashes of the face are present in severe cases. The cause is sometimes difficult to discover. It very often depends upon affections of the teeth. If decayed stumps are present in the mouth they must be removed, and any cavities filled. The mischief, however, is not always apparent, as there may be disease of the tooth-pulp underneath the stopping, and the inflammation of the gums themselves will cause neuralgia of the face. Each tooth should be carefully examined in turn and pressed upon firmly to see if it is sensitive. General health conditions may account for faceache. Nervous and hysterical people are subject to neuralgia of this kind. Simple anaemia may cause neuralgia, because the nerves are ill-nourished with poor blood. Gout and malaria are other health conditions which may give rise to faceache. A cause more difficult to get rid of is associated with inflammation of the nerve itself.
Rest, diet, and tonics are necessary, and the nutrition ought to be attended to. The patient generally requires a good deal of nourishing food, and perhaps a course of cod-liver oil. Warmth is one of the best methods of relieving the neuralgia at the time. Hot cotton wool or hot water over the face will answer the purpose. A mustard-leaf should be applied behind the ear. Electric treatment is one of the best methods of dealing with neuralgia.
"Fever" is the name given to that condition of the body in which the temperature is raised. In most cases rise of temperature is associated with shiverings or rigors, headache, restlessness, and general weakness. The skin is hot and dry, the appetite bad, and the pulse and respiration are quickened. These symptoms are due to a disturbance of the heat-regulating mechanism of the body. The cause of the fever is, as a rule, a special poison now known to be microbic. The germ, or microbe, enters the body and gives off a special poison, or "toxin," which circulates in the blood and causes the symptoms of fever. Each one of the different infectious fevers is due to a special microbe, and all these diseases run a definite course. The different fevers, smallpox, measles, typhoid, etc., will be considered in alphabetical order, in this Dictionary of Ailments.
Flatulence, or wind in the stomach and intestines, is the distension of these organs by gas. It is generallypresent in dyspepsia (see page 869). The cause of the condition is the decomposition, or fermentation, of the food. This fermentation gives rise to the production of various acids and gases, which produce sensations of discomfort and fulness after eating.
Treatment consists in attending to the digestive condition, and removing the cause of indigestion. Sips of very hot water will relieve the flatulence.
Flushing of the face is a very troublesome symptom, which occurs in many forms of digestive derangement. It comes on perhaps soon after a meal, or on going into a warm room. Attention to diet is essential to cure. It is important to avoid sudden changes from heat to cold, as the skin of the face very easily becomes heated and red. The condition is not infrequently associated with defective teeth and insufficient chewing of the food.
Food Poisoning. Every year a certain number of cases of acute food poisoning occur, and a proportion of these are fatal. Any food is poisonous if it has decomposed or been contaminated with the microbes of putrefaction. Meat, fowl, fish, etc., may undergo decomposition under suitable conditions. In warm weather these foods do not " keep " well. Epidemics of meat poisoning are not infrequent in the summer. Sausage and pork, rabbits which have become stale, veal, beef, etc., will produce symptoms of intestinal catarrh when they are not absolutely fresh. In mild cases pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, with headache and thirst, are present. The symptoms gradually pass off, and the patient recovers. In bad cases a very serious " enteritis," or inflammation of the stomach and bowels, is present, and this may prove fatal. A great many instances of poisoning from tinned foods are on record, but with better inspection and regulation canned foods are much safer than they used to be.
Food poisoning also includes the drinking of milk infected by germs, or microbes. Dirty milk is the chief cause of infant mortality in this country. Certain milk products, such as cheese, ice-cream, etc., sometimes prove highly poisonous. Epidemics of diarrhoea have been traced to poisonous cheese or poisonous ice-cream.
Fish poisoning produces the same symptoms as meat poisoning. All fish ought to be absolutely fresh when consumed. Shell-fish will cause symptoms of acute poisoning, and sometimes fatal collapse, if it is eaten stale or decomposed. Mussels, oysters, crabs, lobsters are the principal shell-fish which are apt to cause a disturbance of health when not absolutely fresh.