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.
After attending upon him, they should not eat with unwashed hands. Friends who visit the apartment at intervals only should never enter it fasting.
It is always advisable that the patient's hair should be cut off, as it enables the head to be kept much cooler, and with less trouble. If the patient complains of headache, and his face is flushed, the heat of the surface great, and pulse hard, it will be well to put a few leeches to his temples; or to take a few ounces of blood from the back of his neck by cupping. The head should be kept constantly as cool as possible by means of linen or handkerchiefs dipped in cold water and frequently renewed.
At the commencement of the disease, a gentle purgative should be taken; Castor Oil, or Rhubarb and Magnesia; and he may take the following mixture:
Solution of Acetate of Ammonia...........One Ounce.
Sweet Spirit of Nitre..........................One Ounce.
Tincture of Henbane...........................Two Drams.
Syrup..............................................Half an ounce.
Water, sufficient to make.....................Half a Pint.
A tablespoonful every three hours.
Should the patient be restless, he may take ten or fifteen grains of Bromide of Potash at bedtime.
If there should be an early tendency to depression of the vital power, with great loss of muscular strength, a confused and dusky countenance, a mottled state of the skin, looking like the eruption of Measles, a dry, dark-brown tongue, and a feeble pulse-you must begin very early to give the patient a full allowance of good beef tea, or milk; and these may be thickened with Arrow Moot, or with the broken-up yolk of an egg: and, if the symptons of prostration become more decided, you may add Ammonia in three grain doses, or which is best of all, good wine. Under this kind of management, the patients will often go on, in a doubtful state, for some days, and at length begin to recover. Many of them sleep heavily, as the disorder passes slowly off.
But sometimes the patient suffers much from sleeplessness. Dr. Grattan observes that two or three nights spent in restless delirium, are followed by the worst consequences; and that patients who pass three nights in succession in that way, almost invariably die. In these cases the Bromide of Potash given at bedtime in twenty or twenty-five grain doses, or the Hydrate of Chloral in fifteen grain doses will generally have the desired effect. The feet and legs must be kept warm with bottles of hot water, hot bricks, or bags of hot sand or hot salt.
If the wine should flush or excite him, or render the pulse hard, it must be diminished in quantity, given less frequently, or omitted altogether. If there be signs of local inflammation, pain in the bowels, increased by pressure, for example, leeches must be applied to the tender spot. Leeches may be used, and wine given at the same time. When the patient relishes and wishes for beef tea or wine, it is good evidence that the administration of those articles will be beneficial. Instinct sometimes seems to teach sick people what will do them good.
The great art, says Sir Thomas Watson, of getting a fever patient through a bad attack, is to have him judiciously and perpetually watched, by night and by day. The remedy that is proper one hour may do harm if pushed during the next. And there is another reason why the patient should never be left alone, even for a moment. I have heard of more than one or two instances of patients, in the delirium which attends the disease, getting out of bed, and out at the window, during the temporary absence of their nurse, and perishing from the fall.
When the patient is becoming convalescent, it is necessary to be very careful in his diet, as a little over-feeding would soon occasion a relapse.