This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
May be slight; if severe, high fever, pain over the heart extending to the shoulder-blade, collar-bone, shoulder, and down the arm; palpitation; irregular pulse; shortness of breath; patient cannot lie on left side; noises in the ears; nosebleed; cough; debility; faintness; suffocative paroxysm; general dropsy; restlessness; great anxiety; delirium; weakness of heart-beat; rubbing sounds heard on listening over the heart
This disease is an inflammation of the sac which contains the heart. It is a very serious disease, and not infrequently ends fatally, although the symptoms are sometimes difficult to distinguish from those of other diseases with which it may be associated.
This disease very rarely occurs by itself. It is almost always a part, or result of some other affection, as of pleurisy, rheumatism, disease of the kidneys, pneumonia, peritonitis, scurvy, spotted fever, scarlet fever, measles, etc. Rheumatism and pleurisy are the most frequent causes.
The treatment given should be chiefly directed to the removal of the disease of which the pericarditis is a result The patient should be kept very quietly in bed, carefully protected from drafts, although not overheated by too much clothing, and should be given a nourishing and very simple, unstimulating diet Fomentations over the seat of the pain, and the continuous use of warm compresses, are perhaps the most useful measures that can be employed. Sometimes the disease is so severe that the heart-case becomes filled and distended with fluid which gradually interferes with the action of the heart, and sometimes occasions death by interrupting it altogether. This may now be relieved by means of the aspirator, though a few years ago it would have been considered the height of folly to attempt tapping of the heart-case.