Jaundice is the name used to describe a yellowish discoloration of the skin and the mucous membranes of the body, due to the deposit of blue pigment. It is to be distinguished from sallowness of the complexion which often appears in anaemia and other blood conditions. In true jaundice the white of the eye is markedly yellow. As a rule it is associated with dyspepsia, a bitter taste in the mouth, and a general feeling of illness and debility. Itching of the skin is someties very troublesome, and there may be various eruptions.
There are two types of jaundice:
1. Obstructive Jaundice. When the bile is prevented from getting into the intestine, from some obstruction of the biliary passages, either from pressure by some new growth, by foreign bodies in the duct, such as gall-stones, or by catarrhal inflammation of the bile ducts, which generally spread upwards from the stomach or intestines. This is called catarrhal jaundice.
Catarrhal jaundice may be the effect of derangement of the digestion and spreading of inflammation from the stomach and small intestine along the bile duct which opens into the small intestine. It may follow a chill, and it is the commonest form of jaundice in children and young people. The symptoms come on suddenly, but usually there has been some preceding digestive disorder. Sickness, loss of appetite, and constipation, are early symptoms, and there is discomfort, or a feeling of weight, over the liver. Sometimes there is a slight rise of temperature. The patient is often violently sick, and the excessive vomiting brings up bile which has found its way into the stomach owing to the retching. Intense headache and depression are usually present, but these symptoms pass off in a few days with suitable treatment, and the jaundice itself ought not to last more than a week or two. Some people seem to be liable to these attacks, which readily follow upon exposure to chill. In such cases, careful regulation of diet, a healthy mode of life, and outdoor exercise are the best preventives.
The treatment of an attack of catarrhal jaundice must include attention to the stomach and intestinal condition. A blue pill at night is often the best beginning, followed by salts in the morning, which should be given once or twice a week until the patient is quite recovered. Any pain over the liver requires to be treated by hot fomentations or poultices. Diet must be of the lightest. At first, hot milk and soda-water is sufficient, and milk diet should be continued for at least a week. The patient must guard against cold and keep himself warm. Any medicines other than a simple purgative must be ordered by the doctor, who should always be called in to treat the case. People subject to gout and rheumatism are sometimes liable to these attacks, when treatment must be carried out on the lines advised under the article on Gout. See pages 1344 and 1467, Vol. 2, Every Woman's Encyclopaedia.
2. Non-obstructive Jaundice is associated with poisons present in the blood. There is no obstruction to the bile passages in this case, and the jaundice is, as a rule, not so severe. The skin may be only light lemon in colour. This type of jaundice is seen in many of the acute fevers, such as malaria, and other tropical fevers, in typhoid fever, influenza, pneumonia, etc. Animal poisons, snake-bite, for instance, produce non-obstructive jaundice, whilst severe mental emotion, by deranging the function of bile production, will sometimes cause an attack of jaundice. The disturbance, moreover, is sometimes very great, as there may be a high temperature, vomiting, headache, etc. Newborn infants may have an attack of jaundice, which in most cases only lasts for a couple of weeks, the yellow tint of the skin gradually passing off. When children contract jaundice it is important to guard them against chill, to give light diet, and alkaline mineral water.
Kidney Disease can only be diagnosed by a doctor, and many of the people who imagine that they have kidney disease because they suffer from pain in the back are labouring under an unnecessary delusion. Pain in the back is far more usually a sign of lumbago than of kidney affection. Women are sometimes subject to movable kidney, due, in many cases, to tight clothing and the pressure of corsets. Waist restriction from tight clothing is fairly common, as can be proved by measurement in comparison with normal, unrestricted figures. Pressure round the waist region pushes the kidneys and other organs downwards because in breathing, when the diaphragm descends, the waist cannot expand outwards to give the organs free play. Floating kidney, with the attendant pain in the back, headache, heaviness and discomfort, may thus originate, and it will take many months to cure, and may even require a surgical operation.
The commonest disease of the kidney, inflammation, or nephritis (Bright's disease), has already been considered. It is often caused by chill. (See page 212, Vol. 1, Every Woman's Encyclopaedia.) Certain fevers, especially scarlet fever, may be complicated by kidney affections, and during pregnancy the same condition may arise, and it is always serious.
Stone in the kidney also requires skilled treatment. The condition is generally suspected by attacks of renal colic, caused by the passage of the stone from the kidney.
Pain in the kidney. Certain kidney affections are attended by pain, but many serious diseases of the kidney may be present without this symptom at all. A dull, dragging pain towards one side, which is relieved by lying flat, suggests floating kidney. A one-sided pain in the lumbar regions is suggestive of kidney disease in that side. Skilled treatment should be obtained under these circumstances, as harm may result from delay, and prompt treatment will save unnecessary pain and prevent further complications.
Laryngitis is an affection of the larynx, or organ of voice, in which huskiness, hoarseness, pain, swelling, and dry cough are the usual features. The disease may be either acute or chronic.