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.
In this disease, the symptoms at first are somewhat obscure. Children seldom expectorate, or at least they are apt to swallow what they raise from the lungs, so that the secretions are not brought to view; and, although they frequently cry as if in pain it is difficult to determine where it is situated. Pain, too, is sometimes wanting.' Occasionally, however, the disease begins with fever, hard cough, hurried breathing, and pain, indicated by the child crying when it coughs. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the symptoms from those of some disease from which the child may be just recovering, as Catarrh, Measles or Whooping Cough. But when the complaint is more advanced, fever sets in, with a very rapid pulse, hurried breathing, flushed face, often great restlessness, and frequent cough. The pulse is seldom under 120, sometimes as high as 140 or 160 in a minute. The breathing is very quick, and varies from 40 to 60, or even more respirations in a minute. If the complaint increases, the powers of the system begin to fail; the cough becomes feeble or quite suppressed; the voice can scarcely be heard; the cries grow faint or cease altogether; the pulse becomes exceedingly small and weak; the respirations irregular and sometimes interrupted with deep sighing; the extremities become cold; the face pale or livid; and death soon takes place, usually preceded by a period of drowsiness or stupor. Should the disease, however, take a favourable turn, all the symptoms begin to improve in about a week, more or less, and the child gradually returns to health. Occasionally abscesses are formed, and, discharging suddenly, either produce suffocation, or are followed by purulent expectoration, severe cough, night sweats, hectic fever, and emaciation; until at length the child sinks exhausted, or, as sometimes happens, under judicious treatment, returns gradually to health.
Changes of the weather are among the most common causes of Pneumonia. Sudden exposure to cold, when the body is warm and perspiring, is very apt to produce it. This is especially the case, when the individual exposed is at the time labouring under a catarrhal attack. It is most common towards the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring, and some persons appear to be peculiarly liable to its attacks.
In no disease is it more important to use proper discrimination in the treatment. Measures that are necessary at one stage of the disease, might produce fatal results if adopted at a wrong time. If the disease is taken at the commencement, two or three leeches may be applied to the chest; but, in very young infants, dangerous bleeding has sometimes resulted from the application of leeches, and great care must therefore be taken that the bleeding is not allowed to proceed too far. If leeches are not considered safe, (and, with older children, generally after the leeches,) a small blister may be applied to the chest; the feet and legs may be frequently (two or three times a day) put into hot water for ten minutes at a time, and then wrapped up in warm flannel; care being taken that the child is not exposed to cold during the operation. A dose of from half a grain to a grain of Calomel, (according to the age of the child,)may be given two or three times a day; and from half a teaspoonful to a teaspoonful of the following mixture may be given every two or three hours:
Antimonial Wine........................One Ounce.
Ipecacuanha Wine.......................Three Drams.
Syrup of Poppies.......................Half an Ounce.
Thin Gruel sufficient to make up four ounces.
If this dose should cause sickness,the quantity may be diminished; but a little feeling of nausea will not be injurious, as long as it does not produce actual vomiting. Should the bowels become confined a small dose of the Cathartic Powder, number Two or Three, (according to the age of the child,) may be given occasionally. The diet must consist of gruel, arrow root, sago, and as the complaint subsides, chicken-broth, veal-broth, rice and bread-puddings may be added.