Food Poisoning (contd.). Food may also contain a special microbe of disease, and thus be the means of introducing poison to the body. The tape-worm, for example, is found in the flesh of pigs, and it is most necessary that bacon, ham, and pork should be well cooked. Underdone pork may be the cause of introducing tape-worm to the system. It is said that the microbes of tuberculosis are consumed by human beings in beef, whilst milk is a common vehicle for conveying the poison of scarlet-fever and other infectious diseases. Sickness and diarrhoea immediately after eating some special dish leads one to suspect food-poisoning, especially if two or three of the family have partaken of the same food and show symptoms of gastric disturbance. If the poisoned food has been recently taken, an emetic of mustard and water should be administered. If some time has elapsed, and pain and diarrhoea are present, a dose of castor oil is the proper treatment. The great thing is to get rid of as much of the poison as possible. Hot poultices over the stomach and abdomen relieve the pain, and the limbs and body generally must be kept warm by means of hot-water bottles. Sips of very hot water diminish the tendency to nausea and retching, while evaporating lotions, such as eau-de-cologne, relieve the headache. If there is much collapse, brandy may be necessary. A mustard-leaf over the stomach is a useful counter-irritant.
The best way to prevent food-poisoning is by rigid inspection of the larder and the destruction of all foods that are only questionably fresh. The housewife who makes stale meat into hashes, and disguises the flavour with highly seasoned sauces, is inviting illness to the house. The preservation of bad food is a very false and dangerous form of economy.
Gall-stones are collections of hardened bile, which form in the gall-bladder. When these pass along the passage leading to the small intestine they cause severe attacks of pain or colic. The causes of gall-stones are various. The condition generally occurs in women, and the wearing of corsets, lack of exercise, constipation, and sedentary occupations favour their appearance. Over-eating and " sitting occupations," which entail continual bending forward, such as sewing, increase any tendency to gall-stones. The stones vary in size from a small pea to a walnut; they are yellow-brown in colour, and consist of hardened bile secretion. In many cases they cause no symptoms at all, as they may remain in the gall-bladder for years. If they pass along the bile-duct they are apt to set up agonising pain in the right side, radiating up to the shoulder. Sometimes there is a shivering fit and rise of temperature. The attack lasts some hours, and jaundice appears, because the fluid bile cannot pass from the gall-bladder to the intestine, and it gets reabsorbed into the blood and deposited in the skin. During an attack hot baths and hot fomentations relieve the pain. Any medicines must be administered by a doctor. Between the attacks the diet should be regulated and starches and sugars must be avoided as much as possible. A doctor should be consulted, as an operation may be necessary.
Gastric Ulcer, or Ulcer of the Stomach, is an affection common amongst young anaemic women who are careless about their diet. There is generally a history of indigestion and pain on eating. The pain is relieved by vomiting, and very often there are traces of blood in the vomited matter. The ulcer may be present for years, but not suspected until sudden haemorrhage or bleeding from the stomach occurs. Servant girls seem to be particularly liable to this affection, probably from the sedentary life they lead and the fact that they are extremely careless about their food. Shop-girls also are subject to the complaint, and business girls generally, who have not the opportunity for active exercise and outdoor life, are the chief sufferers from ulcer of the stomach. Anaemic girls subject to dyspepsia may bring on an attack by taking a large meal of cold meat and pickles. In slight cases carefully regulated diet and absolute rest to begin with, followed by gentle exercise and plenty of fresh air, will bring about a cure. Whenever haemorrhage appears a doctor must be summoned immediately, as twelve hours' delay may be attended with fatal results. Until the doctor arrives the patient must be kept absolutely quiet, and given ice to suck. After the attack is over the dyspepsia and anaemia require careful treatment.
Symptoms of pain and sickness after food should never be neglected, as once the health gets run down below a certain level, and a girl becomes chronically anaemic and dyspeptic, complete restoration to health may entail many months or even years of treatment.
Gastralgia is a neuralgia of the stomach characterised by sharp pain, which has no relation to the taking of food. There is no actual disease of the stomach present, and dieting in such cases gives no relief. The condition is generally associated with a neurotic state of health, such as exists in neurasthenia, or it may be associated with gout or anaemia. Attention to the general health is necessary, and a mustard-leaf or hot fomentation over the stomach will relieve the pain.
Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach, which, for all practical and domestic purposes, has been considered under Dyspepsia (Part 7, page 869), although the two conditions are to be medically distinguished.
General Paralysis is a form of insanity accompanied by muscular weakness and tremors, and various mental symptoms, which occurs chiefly among men in the prime of life. The early stages are generally associated with restlessness, exaltation of ideas, tremor of the hands, lips, and tongue, which cause a characteristic slurring of speech. Headaches and neuralgias generally appear, whilst progressive weakness of the muscles of the limbs, giddiness, and, later on, fits, and gradual mental enfeeble-ment are present. In the early stages a good deal can be done for the condition by the avoidance of over-strain and alcohol, by living a regular, simple life. The patient should invariably be under the care of a medical man.
German Measles is an infectious disorder of childhood which was formerly considered a sort of hybrid measles and scarlet fever, but is now regarded as an entirely separate disease. It often occurs in epidemics. It is a contagious disease, and spreads rapidly. As a rule it is a mild affection, much less serious than measles. Sore throat and coryza - or cold in the head - appear early in the course of the disease, and there are generally headache, pain in the back and limbs, with fever. The rash appears on the first or second day on the face, and spreads over the chest and body. First, little round, raised, pinky red spots come out. These may spread so that the whole skin has a red colour, as in scarlet fever. The coryza and early stage of the rash render it similar to measles, whilst the sore throat and later swelling of the glands are apt to lead to confusion with scarlet fever. The distinguishing features of German measles from measles proper is the presence of sore throat and enlarged glands in the neck; whilst it can be diagnosed from scarlet fever by the fact that there is no catarrh in ordinary scarlet fever, and that the eruption in German measles has a distinct resemblance to measles in its early stages. As a rule it only lasts about a week, and complications are rare. The symptoms are mild, but the child should be kept in bed to guard against chill. Light diet and a simple aperient form practically the only treatment required. See that the child occupies a well-ventilated bedroom. A bed-jacket will prevent further chill; it is difficult to keep the invalid still as the symptoms are so slight in many cases. To be continued.