* The most effective mode of exercising the abdominal and respiratory muscles, in order to remedy constipation, is by a continuous alternate contraction of the muscles of the abdomen and diaphragm. By contracting the muscles of the abdomen, the intestines are pressed inward and upward, and then the muscles of the diaphragm above contract and. press them downward and outward. Thus the blood is drawn to the torpid parts to stimulate to the healthful action, while the agitation moves their contents downward. An invalid can thus exercise the abdominal muscles in bed. The proper time is just after a meal. This exercise, continued ten minutes a day, including short intervals of rest, and persevered in for a week or two, will cure most ordinary cases of constipation, provided proper food is taken. Coarse bread and fruit are needed for this purpose in most cases.
It is very common in cases of colds, which affect the lungs or throat, to continue to try one dose after another for relief. It will be well to bear in mind at such times, that all which goes into the stomach must be first absorbed into the blood before it can reach the diseased part; and that there is some danger of injuring the stomach, or other parts of the system, by such a variety of doses, many of which, it is probable, will be directly contradictory in their nature, and thus neutralize any supposed benefit they might separately impart.
When a cold affects the head and eyes, and also impedes breathing through the nose, great relief is gained by a wet napkin spread over the upper part of the face, covering the nose except an opening for breath. This is to be covered by folds of flannel fastened over the napkin with a handkerchief. So also a wet towel over the throat and whole chest, covered with folds of flannel, often relieves oppressed lungs.
Ordinarily, a cold can be arrested on its first symptoms by coverings in bed and a bottle of hot water, securing free perspiration. Often, at its first appearance, it can be stopped by a spoonful or two of hot whisky, or any alcoholic liquor, in hot water, taken on going to bed. Warm covering to induce perspiration will assist the process. These simple remedies are safest. Perspiration should always be followed by a towel-bath of cool water in a warm room or by a fire.
It is very unwise to tempt the appetite of a person who is indisposed. The cessation of appetite is the warning of nature that the system is in such a state that food can not be easily digested. When food is to be given to one who has no desire for it, beef-tea is the best in most cases.
The following suggestions may be found useful in regard to nursing the sick: As nothing contributes more to the restoration of health than pure air, it should be a primary-object to keep a sick-room well ventilated. At least twice in the twenty-four hours, the patient should be well covered, and fresh air freely admitted from out-of-doors. After this, if need be, the room should be restored to a proper temperature by the aid of an open fire. Bedding and clothing should also be well aired, and frequently changed, as the exhalations from the body, in sickness, are peculiarly deleterious. Frequent ablutions of the whole body, if possible, are very useful; and for these warm water may be employed, when cold water is disagreeable.
A sick-room should always be kept very neat and in perfect order; and all haste, noise, and bustle should be avoided. In order to secure neatness, order, and quiet, in case of long illness, the following arrangements should be made: Keep a large box for fuel, which will need to be filled only twice in twenty-four hours. Provide also and keep in the room or an adjacent closet, a small tea-kettle, a saucepan, a pail of water for drinks and ablutions, a pitcher, a covered porringer, two pint bowls, two tumblers, two cups and saucers, two wine-glasses, two large and two small spoons; also a dish in which to wash these articles; a good supply of towels, and a broom. Keep a slop-bucket near by to receive the wash of the room. Procuring all these articles at once will save much noise and confusion.
Whenever medicine or food is given, spread a clean towel over the person or bed-clothing, and get a clean handkerchief, as nothing is more annoying to a weak stomach than the stickiness and soiling produced by medicine and food.
Keep the fire-place neat, and always wash all articles and put them in order as soon as they are out of use. A sick person has nothing to do but look about the room; and when every thing is neat and in order, a feeling of comfort is induced, while disorder, filth, and neglect are constant objects of annoyance which, if not complained of, are yet felt.
One very important particular in the case of those who are delicate in constitution, as well as in the case of the sick, is the preservation of warmth, especially in the hands and the feet. The equal circulation of the blood is an important element for good health, and this is impossible when the extremities are habitually or frequently cold. It is owing to this fact that the coldness caused by wetting the feet is so injurious. In cases where disease or a weak constitution causes a feeble or imperfect circulation, great pains should be taken to dress the feet and hands warmly, especially around the wrists and ankles, where the blood-vessels are nearest to the surface and thus most exposed to cold. Warm elastic wristlets and anklets would save many a feeble person from increasing decay or disease.
When the circulation is feeble from debility or disease, the union of carbon and oxygen in the capillaries is slower than in health, and therefore care should be taken to preserve the heat thus generated by warm clothing and protec-tion from cold draughts. In nervous debility it is peculiarly important to preserve the animal heat, for its excessive loss especially affects weak nerves. Many an invalid is carelessly and habitually suffering cold feet, who would recover health by proper care to preserve animal heat, especially in the extremities. Hot fomentations in most cases will be as good as a blister, less painful, and safer.