Fever: Dryness of Skin

Dryness of the skin is a regular symptom of fever. The most frequent exception to it is in the febrile state of inflammatory rheumatism; in which the skin, while hot, is sometimes quite moist. Generally, the dryer the skin, the worse; the coming of moisture shows the subsidence of the fever. The high heat and dryness are connected together. Reduce the temperature, and perspiration will break out. Therefore, the cold drinks and (careful) cold washing and sponging, spoken of as appropriate to lower the excessive temperature, will serve also to restore the secretion from the skin. Citrate of potassium, acetate of ammonium, and some other medicines favor this effect.

Diuretics are agents which tend to increase the action of the kidneys, the flow of urine. They are among the more uncertain remedies; they do not always act as we wish them to. In this they differ very much from purgative medicines.

The salines already mentioned (citrate of potassium and acetate of ammonium) are useful as diuretics. So are cream of tartar and sweet spirit of nitre. The latter is very often given in fever, when the amount of urine is small. Do not forget that sometimes, in low fevers, the bladder is full, but the patient cannot empty it. This must be examined into. If there is retention of urine, it must be drawn off with a catheter.

Fever: Diet and Treatment

Weakness, in fever, is not quite the same thing early in the attack as towards its end. In the first place it is an oppression of the system; after a while there is more or less exhaustion. The first is best relieved by the means above referred to. At that stage, with persons of average strength, the amount of food taken may be small and its character light. (Persons always feeble will need to have concentrated food from the beginning.) As the attack goes on, even towards the end of the first week usually, and in scarlet fever and. small-pox sooner, the system loses strength, and support is necessary. What shall the means of that support be ?

Liquid, strong food in small quantities and often is the rule. Milk (with lime-water in it if the stomach be very weak) and beef tea are the things to stand by. Strong mutton broth and chicken soup (with all fat fully skimmed off) will do for variation.

Supporting treatment for great debility has always, with physicians, included the use of something alcoholic, wine and whiskey being mostly preferred. Opinion in the medical profession on this subject has tended of late years (in the minds at least, of its safest leaders) towards a lessening of the amount of alcoholic stimulation in fevers, and towards resorting to it in fewer cases. Once it was almost a universal practice to give whiskey in all cases of typhoid, as well as of typhus, fever. Now, many cases of typhoid fever are found to get through well without it.

On such an important matter, in every actual case, the judgment of a physician should be obtained. The safest rule in home management of the sick will be (unless in extraordinary emergencies) not to give or take alcohol in any form unless advised by a competent physician.