Pain, cough, and breathlessness are usually prominent symptoms. As in disease of the heart, the patient must guard against exertion and remain restful, which will do much to prolong life. Any case of aneurysm should be under the care of a doctor.
Angina Pectoris is a paroxysm of cramplike pain in the region of the heart, which comes on suddenly, and is attended by a feeling of suffocation. The pain may radiate down the arm to the finger-tips. The severe form of angina generally occurs in gouty persons over middle age who suffer from degenerative changes in the heart wall.
False angina is the name given to the milder attacks of heart pain and palpitation often accompanying distension of the stomach from over-eating, indigestion, fatigue, or over-exertion. In such cases dietetic treatment is called for. In the severe angina anything likely to cause heart strain must be avoided.
Those who are subject to real angina pectoris should be instructed to carry nitrite of amyl in glass capsules, which can be crushed in a handkerchief and the vapour inhaled. This is a powerful remedy, which has generally an immediate effect for good by dilating the surface blood-vessels, and so affording relief to the heart.
Apoplexy (a " stroke ") is the name given to loss of consciousness due as a rule to haemorrhage inside the skull. It occurs in elderly people with unhealthy blood-vessels, especially those of the plethoric type. Before the attack conies on there may be headache and giddiness, and the loss of consciousness during the apoplectic fit may be slight or very deep coma may be present. As a rule, the patient falls unconscious, breathing loudly and stertorously. The face is livid, and the pupils are often " unequal," that is, one pupil is contracted whilst the other is dilated. The unconscious attack may come on gradually with faintness and giddiness, followed later by unconsciousness. The stroke is followed by paralysis of one side of the body, or " hemiplegia."
The treatment consists in keeping the patient perfectly quiet. Lay him down with the head and shoulders raised. Do not even carry him into another room if it can be avoided, as any movement may cause renewed haemorrhage into the brain. The best plan is to put a mattress on the floor until the doctor arrives, and place the patient on this. Give no food or alcohol. So long as the patient is insensible no fluids of any description should be given. The lips may be moistened with a little sponge of cotton-wool dipped in water. Cold water cloths to the head are useful. The patient must be kept warm, and given plenty of fresh air.
Appendicitis is a very common disease, and in the chronic form is often overlooked and unsuspected. In this case, the only symptom may be occasional dull pain in the right side, which is made worse by over-fatigue or dietetic errors. Acute appendicitis comes on suddenly with pain, tenderness, rise of temperature, and sickness.
The pain is in the right side, where the appendix lies. The vermiform appendix is a round, worm-like process, about three inches long, opening into the intestine low down in the right side at the junction of the large and small intes-fine. This little blind process is very liable to inflammation, because the small opening is apt to become closed up by pieces of undigested foodstuffs, fruit-stones and seeds, and other foreign substances
The result is inflammation, which may be followed by suppuration sad bursting of the appendix, leading to peritonitis, a very serious complication. In some cases the inflammation subsides, and, with early care, recovery can be hopefully anticipated. Recurrence is apt to take place, and it is often advisable to remove the appendix between even mild attacks, as an acute attack may happen at any time which may have a fatal termination.
A doctor must always be in charge of a case of appendicitis, as prompt operative treatment may be called for at any moment. Light diet, poultices, and hot fomentations comprise the chief domestic measures necessary in treating the case.
Asthma. Although perhaps not a very common disease, asthma is exceedingly troublesome to anyone who is subject to it. It is an affection of the lungs, which comes on in sudden attacks or paroxysms.
An asthmatic person may be perfectly well at one minute, and then be suddenly seized with an attack of breathlessness or violent difficulty in breathing. It generally comes on with a feeling of tightness in the chest, and the patient begins to gasp for breath with almost every muscle on tension. The attack may last for a few hours, or even a day or two, and then suddenly the patient recovers his usual health.
The cause of the disease is a little obscure. It is thought to be a spasm of the muscles of respiration or of the bronchial tubes of the lungs. Those who are subject to asthma are often of a nervous or neurotic type.
It may occur at any age, but generally appears in youth after perhaps an attack of bronchitis. Children who develop asthma generally outgrow it if care is taken to make them lead a healthy, simple life. In older people it is sometimes associated with gout or malaria.
There are many curious features about this affection. Some asthmatic people declare that a high altitude brings on an attack. Others say that the sea air makes them worse, whilst others again say that sea air is best for them.
Sometimes an attack of indigestion brings on asthma in those who are subject to it, and dust and irritating particles of any sort will excite an attack. Town air and fogs are generally unsuitable for asthmatic people.
A great ileal can be done to relieve the seventy of the attacks, and even cure the condition. Regular, healthy living is most important. Light, nourishing diet, with restriction of solid food to the early part of the day, should be advised.
It is important to live under the best climatic conditions for the patient if possible. A doctor will advise what drugs to use. When an attack comes on, the sufferer should take only milk as food. Certain asthma cigarettes and inhalation-are used, and should be advised by the doctor in charge of the case.
As asthmatic people often inherit some weakness of constitution, or instability of the nervous system, it is very important to guard against excessive nervous fatigue and physical exertion.
Anyone with a tendency to asthma must lead a quiet life, have plenty of rest and sleep, and a liberal allowance of fresh air. Hot, stuffy places of entertainment must be avoided. An exciting life always affects asthmatic people for the worse, because of the increased strain on the nervous system.