§ 29. Catarrhal fever.

An intense irritation of a greater or lesser portion of the mucous membranes induces a febrile state. The symptoms of that febrile condition are those of a catarrhal fever which may be principally seated in the mucous membranes of the respiratory and reproductive, or else in the genital and uropoetic system. Generally speaking, we understand by catarrhal fever an affection of the respiratory organs. It is a sort of synochus of the lighter kind, continuous and remitting, and commencing towards evening with a slight chill, rather resembling a creeping over the bones, accompanied by a soft pulse which is not very much accelerated, thirst, restlessness, and sometimes great lassitude. In company with this fever the mucous membrane of the throat, chest, nasal, maxillary and frontal cavities appears more or less inflamed. At first the mucous membrane thus irritated does not secrete any-fluid, or only a watery, acrid humour, which is afterwards transformed into a viscid, thick, slimy substance; the tongue, at the same time, exhibits a white coating, the smell is gone, the taste altered, the digestion is disturbed, the urine is red, turbid, generally depositing a profuse, slimy sediment, and a dull aching pain is experienced in the head, especially in the frontal cavities.

The irritation sometimes extends over the mucous membranes of neighbouring organs, or even of the whole organism, occasioning a variety of unpleasant and painful sensations, and increasing the intensity of the fever. The conjunctiva is red and turgid, the eye is either dry or secretes an abundance of tears, and is very sensitive to the light. The affection of the mucous membrane lining the nasal cavities is characterized by creeping and frequent sneezing, and by an aching pain over the eyes (coryza). Sometimes the affection extends to the larynx and trachea, causing an alteration of the voice, roughness and hoarseness; the affection of the tracheal mucous membrane shows itself by the oppressive breathing and the dry cough.

§ 30. A catarrhal fever may be caused by a sudden suppression of the perspiration by a current of air, by a sudden change of temperature, or by a dry, sharp and cold air. Most of those fevers which depend upon a contagious miasm, generally commence with a catarrhal fever; catarrhal fevers may be occasioned by contagia, and occur principally at times when the measles and whooping-cough are prevalent among children; they may likewise occur in consequence of the respiratory organs having been irritated by violent inspirations during physical exertions, such as dancing, screaming, singing, running; and lastly, they may be caused by the inhalation of acrid vapours, especially in individuals who are very sensitive to external atmospheric influences, and had been frequently affected with catarrh before.

§ 31. In simple catarrhal fevers the prognosis is favourable. They are frequently cured spontaneously by an increase of perspiration and the discharge of a turbid, clayish-looking urine; the local affection, however, lasts somewhat longer and disappears only gradually through the secretion of a profuse, thick, yellow, inoffensive mucus. The secretion of that mucus is to be considered a favourable crisis. A catarrhal fever is least dangerous when the inflammation affects the nasal mucous membrane only; the prognosis is more doubtful when the mucous membrane of the lungs and larynx is involved; in that case there is danger of the local affection increasing to an inflammation of those organs, or of disorganizations being induced -by careless treatment. A violent catarrhal fever is to be treated as a pure synochal fever; the local irritation increases of course in proportion to the intensity of the fever. A catarrhal sy-nocha is a continuous fever, characterized by great heat, restlessness, thirst, and a full, tight, hard pulse, without any mucous discharge.

§ 32. Slight catarrhal fevers get well of themselves in a few days with good care, leaving at most only a mild fluent coryza. None but very sensitive patients send for a physician in such cases. Some cases of catarrhal fever are so mild that individuals of a robust constitution are not even obliged to be confined to their rooms, but are able to attend to their business as usual. Such patients have been known to get well by taking a glass of grog or punch in the evening; this would excite perspiration in the night, which was kept up next morning by remaining in bed a little longer than usual, and was found sufficient to restore the equilibrium of the functions. A glass of grog is no homoeopathic remedy, of course; we allude to it merely as a palliative means which has been successfully used in a great many cases of mild catarrhal fever.

The danger increases if the local irritation and consequently the fever be more intense and the mucous discharge more difficult. In such cases the local irritation requires our principal attention in selecting a remedy; whereas the febrile symptoms are the most important if the local irritation have an inflammatory character. The homoeopathic physician should be on his guard in this, as in every case, against being carried away by one or two symptoms instead of carefully observing the whole group. This kind of routine or symptomatica] treatment, which is justly condemned even by the old school, is unfortunately practised by more than one among our ranks; but it is a mis chievous mode of treatment, and accomplishes in a round-about way, by a variety of remedies, what one single remedy would have done if selected in accordance with the whole group of symptoms. All good homoeopathic physicians will agree with us that the symptomatic method would be the grave of homoeopathy, and will not blame us for not giving a detailed description of the treatment which ought to be pursued in every little variety of a disease; we shall furnish general indications for the selection of the proper remedy in every case.