The patient's appearance will tell whether or not he is able to meet the requirements of existence. He looks able to carry on his work--his particular occupation- or he does not. If he does not, he will give the appearance of being sick with either acute or chronic disease.

At the bedside the patient may look robust, sick, collapsed, bluish or cyanosed, thin, fat, with thick and short neck, or long and slender; he is on his back with legs extended, or with the legs drawn up; or on the side with legs drawn up against the abdomen.

The patient may be unable to give a history or describe his symptoms.

Decubitus (Lying Down)

The manner of lying is significant. On the back means exhaustion. This is the position when a patient has lost consciousness.

In a faint or anemia of the brain, the head drops; in congestion of the brain, the head must be supported on several pillows; in asthma of the lungs, bronchi, or caused by the heart, the patient must have much pillow support.

In heart disease the patient lies upon the right side. A normal person can lie on either side equally well.

When heart disease is advancing to the fatal state, the position is sitting, with head and shoulders supported by pillows.

Pain in the abdomen will cause the sufferer to press upon it, or lie on a pillow. Pressure gives some relief. When the pain is intense there will be twisting and writhing.

In peritonitis, appendicitis, cystitis, gallstones, cancer of the stomach and bowels, the tendency is to draw the legs on the abdomen. In peritonitis, the patient will usually be on the back, with legs drawn up.

In gastric ulcer, when suffering with pain, if the ulcer is in the front wall of the stomach, the patient will lie on his back; if the posterior wall is the location of the ulcer, the patient's position will be lying on the abdomen; or upon the right or left side, if the disease is of the right or left side. These positions relieve pressure on the ulcer.

In tubercular meningitis, the child lies on the side, with legs strongly drawn up against the thighs.