This heretofore frightful form of disease, which has ever baffled the skill of the faculty, and proved so almost universally fatal under their treatment, is generally too well known in this country, from unpleasant experience and observation, to need much explanation by way of description, for every American mother must sooner or later have witnessed more or less cases. It is a form of disease peculiar to children, and has seldom or never been known to attack a person who has arrived at years of puberty. It mostly attacks infants, who are suddenly seized with difficulty of breathing, attended with a rattling noise--and like a multiplicity of other forms of disease, is caused by the application of cold, or, which is synonymous, a loss of the requisite quantity of heat for maintaining a healthy action in the animal economy, and consequently occurs more frequently in the winter and spring than in other seasons. In cases of croup, the mucous membrane of the trachea or windpipe becomes greatly inflamed, which induces a great secretion of a very tenacious coagulated lymph or mucous matter in the windpipe and bronchial vessels, which greatly impedes respiration, and if not relieved, in most cases will sooner or later prove fatal by suffocation, or total obstruction of the respiratory organs.
In treating croup, thorough, and sometimes often-repeated emetics should never be neglected, as they are almost the only prescription upon which much reliance can be placed; and lobelia is undoubtedly the most safe and effectual for this purpose of any thing known. It may be administered in powder or in an infusion, and in cases in which children are obstinate in taking medicine, the latter is preferable. A sufficient quantity should be given in all cases, to produce a thorough evacuation of the stomach, as there is little or no danger from the size of the dose, as no more will be used in the stomach than is necessary to produce the requisite cleansing and evacuation, the excess being thrown off as useless. The tincture or infusion of lobelia may be continued in small doses of a teaspoonful or so, after the stomach has been well cleansed and evacuated, and it will produce an excellent effect of arousing action in the stomach, loosening the viscid secretions upon the mucous membrane of the trachea or windpipe, promote expectoration, and allay the inflammation which usually accompanies and particularly affects the bronchial vessels. If the emetic in cases of croup does not operate freely and effectually, enemas or injections, well charged with tincture or third preparation, should be repeated until the stomach is effectually cleansed from all impurities. The child during the operation of the medicine should, if possible, be made to perspire freely, which may be done by feeding it with warm herb drinks and composition tea, by warm bathing, putting warm bricks or boiled blocks about the child in the cradle or bed.