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.
Inflammation of veins is a very important disease, which is divided into subacute and acute. The subacute is not a very serious disease, and generally affects the veins of the legs, especially if they are enlarged or varicose. The symptoms are tenderness and hardness of the affected vein, more or less swelling of the leg, and painfullness of the limb generally. After it has subsided, the vein is usually felt hard as a cord. It sometimes, although rarely, causes a circumscribed abscess in the vein, or in the cellular tissue around it.
Eest, with the limb in an elevated position; leeches; fomentations, or cold lotions, according to the patient's choice, and purgatives; after the inflammation is subdued, the limb may be rubbed two or three times a day with Camphorated Oil, and bandages may be applied.
Acute inflammation of the veins, is a most dangerous, and generally a fatal disease. It may be caused by wounds of veins, as in bleeding, for instance,-if irritated and not permitted to heal; or by tying veins; or even by bruises and other injuries not attended with an open wound, if the patient be subjected to the influences that produce erysipelatous inflammation.
The symptoms are, repeated shiverings, rapid pulse, great anxiety of the countenance, and depression of spirits, and more or less swelling and tenderness over the course of the affected veins. In many cases, the tongue soon becomes furred, brown, and dry, or black; the pulse exceedingly rapid and weak; great prostration of strength; the skin sallow; then bilious vomiting and low delirium come on, and are followed by death, perhaps in two or three days from the commencement of the attack. In other, more protracted cases, great swelling and redness occur over the inflamed veins, and abscesses form, which, if punctured, are found to contain clots of blood mixed with pus. But the most characteristic termination of this disease is the formation of consecutive abscesses. The patient remains low, with an anxious, sallow countenance, rapid pulse and yellow tongue; and suddenly complains of excruciating pain in the shoulder, knee, or some other joint, which is rapidly succeeded by a copious formation of pus; and this abscess is followed by others in the other joints, or in the lungs or liver, which ultimately cause death.
The following case is described by Dr. Maiden, of Worcester:
Miss------, a teacher in a ladies' school, was attacked, after exposure to wet and cold, with acute pain, heat, and redness in the front of the left forearm. Mr. Cole, an eminent surgeon, of Bewdley, by whom she was at first attended, discovered inflammation following the course of the cutaneous veins. Upon its subsidence, the veins were left like hard cords. Soon after the right arm was affected in a similar way; and next, both the lower extremities, which became anasarcous, (dropsical). All this was attended with paroxysms, simulating those of tertian ague: exhausting sweats; diarrhoea; and a frequent feeble pulse. At the end of a month, deep-seated fluctuation was detected in the right thigh, three inches below Poupart's ligament. The abscess gradually approached the surface, and was opened, and more than three pints of very fetid pus was discharged. The wound never closed, and she sank, exhausted, a month after it was made.
Sir Thomas Watson says: "Inflammation of the veins is sometimes so remarkably prevalent, as to partake of the character of an epidemic disorder. It may then spread, no doubt, by contagion. The air of a ward may be made poisonous by its presence. And certain other atmospheric influences seem, at times, to predispose the human body towards a ready reception of the malady. During such periods, prudent men refrain, if they can, from the performance of surgical operations."
Little can be done to be of much service in this serious disease; but we must do what we can. Leeches and fomentations may be applied to abate inflammation; any abscesses formed should be opened early; the bowels should be kept moderately open; restlessness and pain must be allayed by Bromide of Ammonia, Opium, and the Hydrate of Chloral; the doses to be regulated by the age and state of the patient. Quinine is frequently given in large doses, as it is found to stop the shivering if it does no other good.
The patient's strength must be supported by plenty of nourishing and easily digestible food, and by the free use of stimulants, such as Wine and Brandy.
It is recommended to disinfect the air of the room of a patient afflicted with this disease, by hanging cloths or rags saturated with Carbolic Acid around his bed