This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Family Doctor" book
Pain in the head is of several kinds, and dependent on several causes. Very seldom are anodynes suitable as remedies for headache, because they all act more or less powerfully on the brain, and so, may do harm. As a rule, we may say, never take opiates or other anodynes for headache, unless directly under medical advice. For " sick headache," which is habitual with certain persons, and then very hard to cure or even relieve, the most frequently useful remedy is a dose of magnesia or aromatic spirit of ammonia. When an aching head is hot, we are safe always in trying to cool it, by laying upon the forehead a light handkerchief wet every few minutes with cold water. A neuralgic headache will be more likely to be helped by application of heat to the part affected. Gentle rubbing with a pencil of menthol, such as is now sold by druggists, will often mitigate, if not relieve, it.
Pain in the face is likely to be of one of three kinds: toothache in a decayed tooth (or more than one); inflammation of the jaw; or neuralgia. For the first, the most certain remedy is, to apply to the hollow of the aching tooth the end of a bodkin or darning-needle, around which is wrapped a little bit of cotton dipped in pure creosote. As this will burn the lips or gums if it touches them, care should be taken to have it overflow as little as possible; and a glass of cold water must be at hand to rinse the drop or two away, if such does escape into the mouth. If the creosote reaches the right spot, it will quell the pain at once. Oil of cloves, used in the same way, is nearly as effectual; and rather less so is laudanum.
For inflammation of the jaw, advice had better be taken at once from a dentist or a physician. A hot poultice of flaxseed-meal, into which has been poured a teaspoonful of laudanum, may be safely applied to the painful side of the face, and covered with oiled silk (or oiled paper, or thin sheet-rubber) to prevent it from drying up and getting cold too soon.
Earache is most common in young children. A simple first remedy for it is a drop of warm sweet oil poured from a bottle or a teaspoon into the ear. If that fail to relieve, a drop, (or in a child two or three years old, two drops) of laudanum may follow it.
Pain in the joints is usually called rheumatic; although this word is not always definitely used. When there is no swelling, or heat (signs of inflammation), warm applications are likely to do good. For the pain of the joints in inflammatory rheumatism, the most relieving thing is laudanum; laying on the joint a bit of rag, doubled and wet with laudanum, and binding over it a piece of oiled silk. It will not do to put laudanum in this way over too many parts at once; as some of it is absorbed, a large amount of it might narcotize the patient.
Neuralgic pain in any part of the body is generally but one symptom of a general condition, depending on a predisposition of the nervous system and (in most, not all cases) poverty of the blood.
The former, being constitutional, is to be attended to by all the ways we have of favoring the general improvement of health and strength. Poverty of blood is treated also by good nourishing food and iron. For the immediate relief of attacks of neuralgia, many things are helpful, while nothing is certain in every case; except that, if driven to it by great suffering or exhaustion from pain, anodynes (as opium, or morphia, or some of their preparations) will stupefy sufficiently to " drown " the agony.
Temporary weakness often brings on attacks of neuralgic pain in those disposed to have them. Such persons should never wait too long for a meal. Likewise, hot food, as a cup of hot milk, or cocoa, or beef-tea, at the very beginning of the attack, may stop its progress
Heat applied to the painful part will frequently do good; any convenient mode of application will answer. On some parts of the body a mustard-plaster is just the thing. Sunshine will (as I have seen) cure some attacks. On the other hand, I have read of ice applications having the same effect; but I have never witnessed its trial. The Japanese remedy, menthol, or oil of peppermint, is conveniently applicable in the form of rounded sticks, made by the druggists by mixing it with spermaceti. One of these may be gently rubbed over the painful part for a few moments at a time.
Various powerful anodynes are sometimes advised by physicians to be put upon, or hypodermically injected near the seat of severe and obstinate neuralgic pain. As in the case of rheumatic joints a rag soaked in laudanum, laid on the part and covered with oiled silk (or oiled paper) will often stupefy the nerves of the part so as to quell the pain. Anodyne liniments are often used with advantage. I may mention one which is moderate in strength and safe (applied outside only): mix one drachm of chloral hydrate with four fluidounces of soap liniment. This is to be gently rubbed in, for a few minutes at a time, over the part affected with pain.
Pain at time of menstruation dysmenorrhĉa) is habitual with some women, and occasional with others. For its prevention, those liable to it should keep quiet for a couple of days before the expected time, and then for another day or two. When the pain has commenced, the proper position is lying down. Warmth, not excessive, but enough for entire comfort, is also needful. Hot drinks, such as ginger tea, or hot water with a little essence of ginger in it, or a teaspoonful of compound spirits of lavender, will be suitable. So will spirits of camphor, or camphor water, and, in bad cases, paregoric, or even (carefully) laudanum. Clothes wrung out of hot water may be applied to the lower part of the abdomen. Very severe suffering of this kind may, in rare cases, call for injection of laudanum into the bowels.
Piles (small lumps at or near the anus, i.e. outlet from the lower bowel) are sometimes very painful, especially at or after the time of movement of the bowels. Constipation should be avoided, as far as possible, by those who are troubled with piles, and yet purging actively will not agree with them. Rhubarb is the best laxative in such cases; or sulphur , not magnesia.
Inflamed piles may be soothed, if much heated, by application of very cold water. Yet, contradictory as it seems, warm, or moderately hot water, will give still more comfort in some cases. A flaxseed poultice into which a teaspoonful of laudanum has been poured will be suitable when the patient is in bed with a bad attack. An ointment, as cold cream (of the apothecary), should be frequently applied. It is well to know that an attack of pain and soreness in piles (which are often present without giving much trouble) may be many times prevented by the early and free anointing of the parts with cold cream, tallow, or lard.
Strangury (pain in passing water) is to be treated by the warm bath, or hip-bath (sitting-bath), followed by an application over the bladder, or between the thighs, of cloths wrung out of hot water. Also, taking camphor water and flaxseed tea containing a little sweet spirits of nitre, as a drink. Severe cases may justify an injection of laudanum into the bowels, or the placing in the lower bowel of a suppository of opium.
Under the name of anodynes (pain relievers) several other drugs are named in medical books. We need only mention here hydrate of chloral, belladonna, cocaine, hyoscyamus, stramonium, cannabis indica, and chloroform. Every one knows, also, what a boon to those who have to undergo surgical or dental operations is the breathing (inhalation) of anaesthetics, as ether, nitrous oxide, and chloroform. These are called by that name because they annul sensation, for the time. For extracting teeth, pure nitrous oxide is the best; for larger operations, ether is much safer, though less convenient, than chloroform. The use of ether, in this way, requires much skill, judgment, and care.