The Symptoms of Acute Dyspepsia

Weight, fullness, or pain at the pit of the stomach; nausea and perhaps vomiting, or diarrhea; usually more or less fever; pain in the head; prostration; coated tongue; unpleasant taste in the mouth; generally little or no appetite.

Acute dyspepsia, when accompanied by considerable fever, is often termed "gastric fever," an incorrect term, however, as the fever is only a symptom of the local disease. In severe cases there is an actual catarrh of the stomach, an affection which has been already described.

The Causes of Acute Dyspepsia

Most cases of acute dyspepsia are the result of excess in eating, taking food at an unseasonable hour, or partaking of very unwholesome and indigestible substances, or the accidental ingestion of some highly irritating substance, as poisoned or decayed food, or some similar irritant.

The Treatment of Acute Dyspepsia

The most that is needed in the majority of cases is abstinence from food for twenty-four hours, and the use of only the most simple foods, as boiled rice, oatmeal gruel well boiled, and similar food, for two or three days afterward. Animal food should be abstained from altogether, as the stomach is unprepared to digest such food. In addition to regulation of the diet, the patient may be benefited by some simple measures of treatment. When there is nausea, give copious draughts of warm water to encourage vomiting, so that the stomach may be thoroughly evacuated of its irritating contents. When the stomach is emptied of solid matter and the vomited matters become wholly fluid and assume a yellow or green color, due to the presence of bile, the vomiting should be checked by the use of ice or iced water, which the patient should be allowed to swallow in small quantities. Sometimes ice applied over the stomach externally secures prompt relief, but generally hot fomentations secure the best results. The hot applications should be made thoroughly, as hot as the patient can well bear, and frequently renewed. If they give relief, they should be continued several hours, the stomach being constantly covered with a warm moist flannel compress. It is also well to give a large, warm water enema. If there is pain in the bowels, the water employed for the enema should be as hot as can be borne comfortably, and the enema should be as large as the patient can retain, for which reason it should be administered slowly, with the patient lying upon his back.

The use of purgatives for the relief of acute dyspepsia, especially the employment of some preparation of mercury, is much to be deprecated. While these remedies often seem to give relief, the same relief and greater may be obtained by other means which are infinitely superior because perfectly harmless, while those mentioned almost invariably aggravate the disease in the end, making its recurrence more frequent.