The Symptoms of Peritonitis

ACUTE: Pain in the abdomen; chill or chilliness followed by fever; great tenderness over whole abdominal wall, increased by muscular action and by slight pressure; constipation of the bowels; vomiting; hiccough; patient lies on the back with the knees drawn up; cold, clammy sweats.

CHRONIC: Slight pain in abdomen; obstinate diarrhea; occasional attacks of colic; abdomen rigid, swollen, and tender; emaciation.

Peritonitis is inflammation of the serous membrane which lines the cavity of the abdomen and covers the intestines. The causes of the disease are the same as those which occasion inflammation of other serous membranes, as of the pleura of the lungs. It frequently also results from perforation, or from inflammation and ulceration of the mesenteric glands.

The Treatment of Peritonitis

The acute form of the disease requires absolute rest, together with remedies calculated to lower the inflammatory action. The abdomen should be covered with cold compresses which should be wrung out of ice-cold water and changed every ten minutes. Cool injections into the bowels may also be employed for the same purpose. Some cases are more readily relieved by the application of hot fomentations to the bowels and hot enemas. The treatment should be applied very thoroughly. The diet should be simple, consisting by preference of milk and lime-water, beef-tea, etc. Solid animal food should be withheld, also vegetables. The diet should be very light until convalescence is fully established. For the chronic form of the disease the same general plan of treatment should be followed. Much good may be derived from fomentations applied two or three times a day. For breaking up adhesions which may have formed, the alternate hot and cold applications in the form of compresses, the douche, or spray are an excellent measure of treatment. Daily hot enemas are also useful.