This section is from the book "Smith's Family Physician", by William Henry Smith. See also: Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies that Medical Doctors Don't Know.
Colic is a painful distension of the whole of the lower portion of the belly, with a sensation of twisting round the navel, accompanied by griping pains, and often attended with vomiting, costive-ness, and a spasmodic contraction of the muscles of the abdomen..
The disease is produced by various causes, suck as crude and acid food, wind in the bowels, a superabundance of acrid bile, long-continued costiveness, hardened faeces, certain metallic poisons, derangement of the digestive organs, the application of cold and moisture, worms in the intestinal tube, and the having swallowed poisonous substances.
In the bilious colic there is loss of appetite, bitter taste in the' mouth, thirst, costiveness, and a vomiting of bilious matter, with, an acute pain all round the region of the navel; and as the disease advances, the former becomes more frequent, and the latter more severe.
In the flatulent colic there is great costiveness, with pain, soreness, and griping of the bowels, in almost all cases relieved by a certain degree of pressure with the hand, a rumbling noise, distention of the stomach, an inclination to throw up, and coldness of the extremities.
In the hysteric colic there is nausea and sickness at the stomach, with severe spasms, costiveness, and dejection of spirits.
In severe cases there is sometimes a vomiting of faeces, caused by a reversed action of the motion of the bowels.
Colic is to be distinguished from inflammation of the bowels by the spasmodic contraction of the muscles of the abdomen, by the absence or trifling degree of fever, by the state of the pulse, which is frequent and full, and by the diminution of pain when pressure is made on the abdomen; whereas in inflammation of the bowels there are no spasms, but a considerable degree of fever, the pulse is quick and small, and the belly extremely tender to the touch.
When the pain remits, or shifts its situation, not being obstinately confined to one place, and when the patient experiences considerable ease after a discharge either of wind or faeces, and stools are obtained, we have reason to expect a favorable termination to the disease; but the sudden cessation of pain, with the costiveness remaining obstinate, cold sweats breaking out, a weak tremulous pulse, frequent fainting, and hiccups, denote inflammation about to terminate in mortification.
If the patient is young and vigorous, and the symptoms proceed with such violence as to threaten a termination in inflammation, it will be advisable to take a little blood from the arm, the quantity to be regulated by the symptoms. The patient should be wrapped up warm, and flannels wrung out in hot water, as hot as he can bear, should be laid over the belly, and changed as often as they begin to cool. If there is vomiting or an inclination to vomit, small effervescing draughts should be given every ten minutes till the sickness ceases.
Tartaric Acid........................................5 grains,
Will be the proper dose, in about half a wineglassful of water. The soda should be dissolved first, and then the acid added, and the draught should be taken while effervescing. As soon as the vomiting ceases, the patient may take one grain of solid opium. If this is rejected by the stomach, he may take one or two more of the effervescing powders, and then take another dose of Opium. When the stomach is irritable, it will usually bear solid Opium much better than Laudanum, or any other preparation of that drug.
Having stopped the sickness, we must pay attention to the state of the bowels. In most cases it will be better to give a clyster than to administer purgatives, as the stomach may still be sensitive. A pint of warm water may be at first injected, and if this should not empty the bowels, it may be repeated.
Of late years, warm Linseed Oil has been much used for clysters, and in many cases of costiveness has been successful where everything else had failed. It was formerly the custom, in obstinate cases of costiveness, to give Quicksilver in one pound doses, in hopes that, by its weight and peculiar motion, it might work its way through, but the practice has been long since discontinued.
A case is related by Dr. Murchison, of Colic with constipation, in which opium not having relieved the pain, nor copious injections of gruel and castor oil produced any evacuations, Leeches were applied. The abdomen, however, became very tender on pressure, and the pulse rose to 108. The patient was now ordered a pill containing half a grain of Extract of Belladonna every four hours, with Belladonna Ointment to the abdomen, a warm bath at night, and a or Oil Enema, twice a day. On the following morning, after taking four of the pills, and the pupils being moderately dilated, the patient had a copious feculent motion. The pills were repeated twice daily, and the bowels continued to act regularly and copiously.
Persons who are subject to attacks of Colic should be careful in their diet, abstaining from all kinds of indigestible food; they should also avoid exposure to cold, and should wear flannel next the skin. Taking care, at the same time, to keep the bowels in a healthy state by the use of gentle laxatives when found necessary.