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.
This complaint, as its name implies, usually commences with the heats of summer. It affects children between the ages of three months and two years, though sometimes it occurs a good deal later. It is said by an American Physician, that "it is confined almost entirely to cities, and prevails most in those of largest size, and most densely peopled;" but, in Canada, it is not by any means uncommon in country places.
The attack is often preceded by Diarrhoea, but sometimes the vomiting and purging commence at the same time. In fatal cases, of short duration, the vomiting usually continues to the end; but when the disease terminates favourably, or is much protracted, the vomiting often subsides, or ceases altogether, leaving only the Diarrhoea behind. Occasionally, the disease is exceedingly violent and rapid; the vomiting and purging are almost incessant; the stomach rejects everything swallowed; and, if relief is not afforded, prostration comes on, with a cool and clammy skin, pale and shrunken features, half-closed eyes, insensibility, and death in from twenty-four hours to three or four days. Much more frequently, however, the attack is attended with feverish symptoms, and the case protracted from one to several weeks. In such cases the pulse is frequent, tongue furred, extremities cold; abdomen sometimes painful on pressure. During the complaint the child generally sleeps with the eyelids more or less open, there is generally thirst, the appetite is variable and capricious. The stools are frequently green, or yellow, sometimes tinged with blood, sometimes dark coloured; sometimes worms are passed.
If the child is sucking, considerable attention must be paid to the health of the mother, and if her milk should appear to disagree with the health of the child, it must be changed for fresh cow's milk, with arrow root, sago, or ground rice. Sometimes, when there is much acid in the child's stomach, the milk becomes curdled and thrown up. In this case a little Magnesia (according to the age of the child), given two or three times a day, combined with a little Peppermint or Carraway water, will frequently stop the sickness. If the bowels should be much relaxed, a teaspoon-ful of Chalk Mixture, or of the Astringent Mixture, No. 7, may be substituted for the Magnesia, and given three or four times a day. When the Diarrhoea subsides, a little Magnesia may be added to the Chalk Mixture, so as not to confine the bowels. A little chicken or mutton broth may be given occasionally; say once or twice a day. Fruit or vegetables (especially pickles) should be prohibited. Calf's-foot jelly is a mild and nourishing food, so also is isinglass jelly.
Thin flannel should be worn next the skin; and the feet and legs should be kept warm. A warm bath, up to the arm pits, once or twice a day, will be of benefit.