We have already referred to some of the varieties of this disease, and the causes which contribute the most to its development. It might with propriety be called "Parent of diseases" as it is the fruitful source of almost an innumerable variety. It is, as a general thing hereditary, taints the whole system, and may be developed in any organ of the body; even the bones furnish frightful evidences of its ravages. It may remain latent in the system for years, but be developed in all its virulence in some weakened organ, or in a system prostrated by disease, anxiety, or dissipation.
A tuberculous constitution may be indicated by the following appearances; large head, short, thick neck, light hair, fair skin and rosy cheeks, generally blue eyes and large pupils; the form may be full and rounded, but the flesh is soft and flabby; frequent bleeding at the nose, and accumulation of mucus in the lungs, trachea, nose, and intestinal canal.
The prominent symptoms are, glandular swellings and indurations on the neck, below the jaw, the nape of the neck, axilla, groins, and finally in almost every part of the body. The swellings are at first soft, painless and moveable, but afterward become larger, harder, painful, inflamed, and finally suppurate and form scrofulous ulcers. As we have said before, almost every tissue and organ of the body may be attacked by this disease.
It may attack the mucous membrane of the nose, commencing with a swelling and redness about the wings of the nose, and attended with a thin offensive discharge which frequently blocks up the nostril.
The stomach and liver may also be the seat of tuberculosis, as well as the spleen, intestines, throat, lungs, brain, spinal marrow, eyes, ears, bones, joints, etc. A frequent form in which scrofula is developed is Scrofulous Ophthalmia; in this variety there is an extreme sensitiveness to light, even the slightest ray producing intense pain. An eruption generally appears during the inflammation on the cheeks near the eyes, into which they frequently extend, producing ulcers which may destroy sight.
White swelling and Hip-disease, are other forms of scrofula in which the joints and the membrane which surrounds them are diseased. These diseases are generally slow in their progress, at first pain only being felt after exercise. As the disease advances, the cartilages and other substances which compose the joint, become so thickened that the joint becomes immoveable. If the disease is still allowed to progress, suppuration takes place, accompanied with emaciation, hectic fever, great prostration, and night-sweats soon terminating in death.
Rachitis or Rickets, is another variety of scrofula affecting principally the bones, and usually making its appearance between the ninth month and the second year. This is a morbid alteration of the bones, characterized by swelling, softening and deformity. The head is large and heavy, and sinks on the shoulders. The softened bones are unable to retain their shape; hence the shoulders stand out, the spinal column is curved, and lasting deformity of different parts of the system may be the result, as well as serious diseases occasioned by the contraction of internal organs.
I have already spoken of the tubercles of the lungs, in the article on Pulmonary Consumption. It will be impossible in our limited space, to go into the minutiae of the almost innumerable variety of diseases produced either in part, or entirely by a tuberculous taint. It will be only necessary to refer the reader to the diseases under their respective heads.
The prominent causes of hereditary tuberculosis have been given in the chapter on the causes of disease. But the disease as we there remarked is not always hereditary. It may be produced in childhood by nursing from a scrofulous or syphilitic nurse, or even be introduced into the child by vaccination, the pus having been taken from one in whom there was a constitutional taint. It may also be produced by living in impure, damp, or moist cold air; in a general neglect of cleanliness, and eating heavy indigestible food in the first years of infancy. Violent astringent medicines which impede and stop the salutary motions of nature, and measles, small pox, scarlet fever, and those other diseases which tend to weaken the lymphatic system, may also produce it.
The treatment should be in a great measure constitutional. The food should be healthy, and easy of digestion, but highly nutritious. Vegetables combined with animal food may be used, but rich gravies and highly oily substances should be avoided. A moderate use also of porter, ale, and light wines may be advisable. Cleanliness, bathing the entire body daily, and a daily change of linen are essential, as well as pure air, and active muscular exercise.
The most prominent remedies in the treatment of the various forms of Scrofula are, Sulphur, Calcarea, Iodine, Ferrum, Mercury, Aurum, China, Belladonna, Conium, Hepar-s., Sepia, Barita, Dulcamara, and Rhus
Its prominent indications are, ulcers on various parts of the body; humid eruptions on the head, behind the ears, and discharge from the ears; eruption about the eyes, and inflammation of the eyes, sometimes with ulcers on the cornea, great intolerance of light and swelling and inflammation of the lids; swelling and sometimes suppuration of the glands; white swelling of the knee and pain in the knee and hip-joints; pulmonary cough, with sticking pains in the chest and purulent expectoration; swelling of the nose with offensive discharge.
In acute cases, a powder, once in six hours, in chronic cases, every night.
Eruptions and soft tubercles on the scalp; inflammation of the eyes, with eruption around them, and great sensitivess to light; eyelids itch, are swollen and inflamed; scurfy eruptions on different parts of the body; swelling of the glands about the neck and throat; enlargement of the bones and inflammation in the hip and knee-joints; stiffness and lameness of the limbs, and sensitiveness to the air; stitches in the chest, and short painful cough; crusty eruption in the nose and about the mouth.
Six globules, once in twelve or twenty-four hours.
Enlargement and induration of the glands; rough and dry skin and emaciation; inflammation of the knee, with swelling, catarrhal affections of the mucous membrane; inflammation and swelling in the liver; abdomen tumid, with pain on pressure; cough and pain in the chest; swelling and pain in the bronchial glands, and hectic fever.
Same as Rhus.
This is an exceedingly valuable remedy in almost every stage of tuberculosis, particularly in glandular swellings and softening of the bones. It is also highly indicated in the scrofulous ophthalmia of children, especially where there are ulcers on the cornea; also scrofulous eruption and ulcers in children. It follows well after Sulphur, Mercurius, and Hepar-s., and may be followed with advantage by Silicca. or Iodine.
A powder, or six globules, morning and night.
Particularly where the tumors and enlarged glands are in a state of suppuration, and where the ulcers discharge a thin and offensive matter; also in Ophthalmia where there is a profuse secretion of tears, and a considerable mucous discharge.
Same as Calcarea.
Mercury will be found of great advantage where there is inflammation of the eyes, with danger of ulceration; inflammation, pain, and swelling of the glands; eruptions and ulcers on the body, and affections of the bones and joints.
Same as Calcarea.
Glandular swelling, with inflammation and suppuration. Inflammation of the eyes, with heat, redness, and great sensitiveness to light, severe pain in the ball of the eye; swelling of the bones, of the lips, nose and tonsils, bleeding of the gums; roaring in the ears, soreness of the throat, etc.
Two drops, or twelve globules, in a tumbler of water, a tablespoonful in acute cases, every three or four hours; in chronic cases every night.
Scrofulous affections of the ears, with discharge of purulent matter; pain in the joints and bones; sore throat, especially after a cold; chronic inflammation of the eyelids; scrofulous eruptions and ulcerations.
A powder, or six globules, at night.
Sepia is particularly useful in females affected with derangement of the menstrual functions, and Aurum, Ferrum, and Phosphorus will be found of great advantage in obstinate cases, especially where the strength is running down.'
Same as Baryta.
Bryonia will be found a most valuable remedy in tuberculous affections of the chest, characterized by rheumatic or aching pain in the chest and cough.
Same as Belladonna.
Great benefit may also be obtained by visiting some of the Sulphur or Iron springs which abound in this country.