The Symptoms of Brain Fever

ACUTE: Fever; sometimes chill and convulsions; pulse hard and rapid; vomiting; constipation; severe headache, which is aggravated by light and noise; alternate pallor and flushing of the face; eyes red and staring; pupils dilated; delirium; patient cross-eyed; restlessness; muscles twitching; after three or four days, less fever; slow pulse; pupils dilated; stupor.

CHRONIC: Symptoms obscure; little or no fever; dullness; change of the disposition; paralysis in some cases; headache and impairment of the mind, following an injury to the head.

Under the head of brain fever we have included two affections, known as simple meningitis, or inflammation of the membranes of the brain, and cerebritis, or inflammation of the brain substance. Our reason for doing this is that the symptoms of the two affections are so near alike that it is often difficult or impossible for the most careful physician to distinguish between them; in fact, in many cases, both affections occur at the same time, thus making the two diseases one. Another form of inflammation of the brain, known as tubercular meningitis, is considered separately. Brain fever sometimes begins very insidiously, the symptoms not being at first sufficiently marked to attract serious attention, so that in many cases the real nature of the difficulty is not understood until the patient has reached an almost hopeless condition. This is especially true of chronic inflammation of the brain, the final result of which is frequently the formation of an abscess. Brain fever beginning thus gradually has frequently been mistaken for insanity, and patients have been taken to an insane asylum instead of receiving proper treatment.

The Causes of Brain Fever

The causes of inflammation of the brain are not very well understood, as many cases occur which cannot be traced to any distinct cause. It is known, however, that inflammation of the brain may be excited by blows upon the head, by exposure to the heat of the sun, and by the use of alcoholic drinks.

The Treatment of Brain Fever

"The essentials of treatment are keeping the patient very quiet in a dark room, and applying cold to the head by means of cloths wrung out of iced water; or, ice compresses. In severe cases, the hair should be cut very close, so as to allow of the more complete cooling of the head. Only the most bland and unstimulating food should be taken, and it should be given cold. The cold enema is a very excellent measure of treatment in this and other affections characterized by high fever. In the second stage of the disease, when the pulse becomes slow, the pupils dilated, and the patient dull or stupid, in consequence of effusion into the brain, the treatment should be such as will have a tendency to produce absorption. This can seldom be accomplished, but it will be worth while to make a trial of alternate hot and cold applications to the base of the skull in conjunction with the other measures described.