The manifestations of influenza are so exceedingly variable that it is difficult to lay down hard and fast rules for the dieting of the disease. It is, however, so remarkably depressing in its effects that, generally speaking, a generous dietary and a certain amount of stimulation would appear to be indicated. This may be started from the first in cases which have little or no pyrexia. In those, however, in which the fever is considerable, the usual rules for feeding in the acute stage of fevers must be observed, the milk diet being freely supplemented by meat extracts, beef-tea, and suitable protein preparations. In the gastro-intestinal form of the illness it may be necessary to add lime-water to the milk or to peptonize it, and to limit the meat preparations to those which are not liable to increase the diarrhoea, such as raw meat juice, bovinine, or Brand's essences. Cases in which the diarrhoea is almost choleraic will require free stimulation with brandy.
It is not every patient whose appetite requires to be tempted in convalescence after influenza. Many, indeed, have an appetite which is quite inordinate and are ready to eat much more than they would in health. There is no reason to limit the diet in such cases. A liberal dietary in normal lines, with a glass of milk or a cup of beef-tea given between meals, may be safely allowed. But for the average patient, especially for those who have suffered from that prolonged form of the disease which is not infrequently mistaken for enteric fever, it may be necessary to increase the dietary gradually, encouraging the appetite by the variety of the food prescribed, and sustaining the strength by frequent small meals. Oysters, sweetbread, and white fish, such as whiting, are all suitable in the early days of convalescence. Later chicken, game, or a well-cooked cutlet may be permitted. Strong soups, plenty of fresh milk, eggs lightly boiled, poached, or beaten up with milk and brandy may be given between the principal meals.
As is the case in diphtheria, it is probably safer to over-stimulate patients suffering from influenza than to allow too little alcohol. While quite admitting that there may be some risk of a patient acquiring an alcoholic habit in the period of prolonged depression which so often follows the disease, I am convinced that this depression may be often warded off by the judicious administration of alcohol in the acute stage and in the early days of convalescence. A little alcohol, moreover, given in convalescence aids the digestion and stimulates the desire for food, and if its amount is carefully regulated and its use strictly limited to meal times, I have seen no harm whatever result from its employment. In the febrile stage good whisky or brandy are preferable; later, it is wiser to prescribe wine with lunch and dinner. Port or Burgundy will probably be found most suitable if they are well taken. In very depressed cases a little champagne sometimes works wonders. Many physicians must have noticed the extraordinary toleration for alcohol which some patients appear to have after influenza, and if its administration is not too long postponed, there will be little difficulty in persuading the convalescent to dispense with it afterwards.