The Symptoms of Acute Catarrh Of The Stomach, or Bilious Attack

Indigestion; heaviness at the pit of the stomach; dizziness; furred tongue and bad taste in the mouth; "sick headache tormenting pain in the forehead and temples, extending toward back of head; flashes before the eyes on stooping; feeling that the head will burst; vomiting of foul and acrid matters, and finally of yellow or greenish bile; in some cases, griping of the bowels and diarrhea.

A fact not generally known but well established is that catarrh of the stomach is the commonest of all forms of stomach disease. The digestion of each meal requires an unusual accumulation of blood in the mucous membrane of the stomach and an increased production of mucus. All that is required for the production of gastric catarrh is a slight exaggeration of this physiological process. The disease is common to all ages of life, and is particularly frequent in children. Fortunately, it is not very serious in its results, as it quickly subsides, and disappears in a few days. The symptoms given above are those characteristic of the disease in its most marked forms. Very frequently the symptoms are so slight in character as to be scarcely observable otherwise than by loss of appetite, coated tongue, feeling of lassitude, and perhaps heaviness of the stomach.

In what is generally known as a "bilious attack," in which the liver is supposed to be chiefly affected, the real difficulty is with the stomach, the affection really being gastric catarrh. The pain felt under the border of the ribs on the right side, and attributed to the liver, is due to an extension of the disease from the stomach to the duodenum. In some cases, jaundice is present, which also confirms the popular notion respecting the liver; but this is due to obstruction of the excretory duct of the liver through swelling of the mucous membrane at its point of entrance into the duodenum. Sometimes, also, the catarrh extends into the bile duct, thus completely obstructing the flow of bile, and occasioning its absorption into the system, which gives rise to the yellowish appearance of the skin and dingy yellow color of the whites of the eyes seen in jaundice. Bilious attacks nearly always follow some indiscretion in eating. For instance, if a person subject to the disease eats a late supper, he will be quite sure to awake in the morning with what is termed a "splitting" headache, bad taste in the mouth, coated tongue, and no appetite. Soon after he gets up, if he attempts to rise, he begins to feel sick at his stomach and soon vomits acid and very foul-tasting matters,-decomposed remains of his last meal, and perhaps of one or two preceding meals. As the vomiting continues, he begins to throw up bitter, yellowish matter, which is almost directly after followed by an intensely bitter, greenish fluid, easily recognized as bile. The yellow matter is also bile discolored by the gastric juice. It only becomes green after the gastric juice has been neutralized. The vomiting is believed by patients to be caused by "bile on the stomach," and it is thought necessary to employ an emetic, or a laxative to carry it away by means of the bowels. Both of these measures are unnecessary and in the highest degree mischievous. The bile was not in the stomach when the vomiting commenced, but was brought into it by the violent retching, which reverses the action of the small intestine for a short distance below the stomach so that the bile is carried upward instead of downward. As the stomach is already in a state of great irritability, it is evident that both emetics and laxatives will be decidedly deleterious rather than beneficial.