This is generally an infectious epidemic, occurring, more particularly among children, where it is seldom fatal, unless badly treated, or it becomes complicated with other difficulties. In persons, more advanced in years, it may assume a severe and even dangerous character, from its power of arousing and developing into full and fatal action germs of disease which may have been slumbering in the system for years.
The progress of the disease may be divided into three stages. At first the symptoms of an ordinary catarrh are perceived, such as slight inflammation of the eyes, sneezing, discharge of water from the nose, dry, short cough, difficult breathing, pain in the forehead, back, and perhaps diarrhoea, accompanied with fever of a remittent character, gradually increasing until the eruption appears on the skin. This is the first or febrile stage.
The second or eruptive stage, commences on the third or fourth day. The eruption first appears on the face and arms in the form of small, red spots, and for three or four days gradually increases and extends over the body. On the fourth day the eruption grows paler, and the symptoms abate. On the sixth or seventh day the third stage, or stage of desquamation, commences. If the eruption is slight, the scaling may be scarcely perceptible, and all morbid phenomena terminate in the critical sweat, diarrhoea, or urine. During this stage, the cartarrh may increase to pneumonia, and perhaps, in scrofulous subjects, be followed by consumption.
A long train of unpleasant difficulties may follow measles, such as, severe inflammation of the eyes, swelling of the glands, consumption of the bowels, pain in the ear, deafness, and tormenting chronic eruption.
The two great remedies in the treatment of this disease are Aconite and Pulsatilla. Very often a few doses of either one or both of these remedies will be all the patient requires. One drop, or six globules, may be dissolved in a tumbler of water, and a table-spoonful taken in alternation every two, three, or four hours. The febrile symptoms, inflammation of the eyes, giddiness and confusion of the head, strongly indicate Aconite, while Pulsatilla is particularly useful, where gastric symptoms are present, when the cough is worse toward evening or in the night, is accompanied by yellowish or whitish expectoration, sometimes followed by vomiting, or there is a yellowish or greenish nasal discharge, and is almost a specific, where the eruption delays in making its appearance. When given alone, it may be taken every three hours.
Should there be great restlessness, an occasional dose of Coffea may be given. Should the eruption strike in, or sickness at the stomach and oppression of the chest be present, a few doses of Ipecac, alone, or in alternation with Bryonia, prepared in the same manner as the Aconite, given one or two hours apart, will produce relief.
Bryonia - Will also be found of great value, when the cough is dry and attended with shooting pain in the chest, difficult breathing, etc, when it may be alternated with Aconite as directed for Aconite and Pulsatilla. Rheumatic pains in the limbs, and constipation also indicate this remedy.
Of the above remedies put one drop, or six globules, in a glass half full of water, and take a teaspoonful at a dose.
Two drops, or six globules, in a tumbler of water a table-spoonful every two hours. If much fever is present, it may be given in alternation with Aconite, two or three hours apart.
Should the eruption be slight, and severe inflammation of the eyes be developed, or violent pain in the ear, with purulent discharge be present, Sulphur, in alternation with Pulsatilla given at intervals of two, three, or four hours, will generally produce speedy relief.
Hepar is of benefit in the hoarse cough which sometimes follows measles. A powder or three globules may be given every three hours.
Typhoid symptoms not unfrequently set in after measles, in which case, if there are dry, dark tongue and lips, burning heat, vomiting, or diarrhoea, Arsenic, a powder, or six globules, in a tumbler of water, may be given, a teaspoonful at a dose, once in two or three hours. If there should be loss of consciousness, watery diarrhoea, great weakness, cough, inclination to vomit, Phosphorus may be given in the same manner.
Severe pain in the ear will generally be relieved by a few doses of pulsatilla, given as heretofore directed, at intervals of one or two hours, and if much purulent discharge be present, it may be followed by four or five doses of sulphur, one every four hours, and this, if necessary, by three or four doses of carb. - v. at the same intervals. Croupy symptoms will be relieved by Hepar-sulph. or Spongia, and the remaining cough by Puls., Sulph., Pros., Hyos., Pry., Phos. Should the measles be followed by disturbance about the head, irritation of the eyes, with intolerance of light, Belladonna or Strammo-niurn, as directed heretofore, may be given at intervals of three or four hours.
Constipation should create no alarm, as it generally passes off in a short time without medicine. Should a mucous diarrhoea set in, Puls., Merc., Chin., or Sulph. will speedily remove it. (See Materia Medica.)
During the prevalence of measles, Aconite and Pulsatilla may be taken in alternation, three globules at a dose, two days apart.