Inflammation, in medicine, is a tumor attended with unnatural heat, redness, painful tension of the skin, and febrile symptoms, which are more or less violent, according to the nature of the part affected, and the extent of the swelling.
Almost every part of the body is liable to inflammations, but chiefly the bowels, breast, eyes, etc. of which we shall treat in the progress of this article.
The termination of inflammatory tumors depends op their different degrees of violence, and the causes whence they originate, as well as their treatment. Where they appear in consequence of colds, without any previous disposition of the system, they may often be dispersed by the usual applications; but after fevers, and in persons of gross habits, they generally terminate in suppuration. In aged, infirm, or dropsical persons, however, they frequently produce mortification or gangrene.
In treating external inflammations, the chief object is to relieve such of the smaller vessels as are pbstructed; thus to restore the natural circulation of the blood, and to effecl: the dispersion of the tumors. Swellings of this nature, if attended with mild symptoms, or arising from external injury, may be safely discussed. Hence various applications may be resorted to, according to the temperament of the patient. For persons of hot, gross habits, cooling external remedies are the most ser-viceable : by those of an opposite nature, cataplasms of warm emol-r lient herbs may be used with advantage. The effect of these applications will be considerably promoted, by taking at the same time cooling and attenuating medicines while the diet ought to consist of nourishing aliment, that is easily digested; carefully avoiding all salted meat, pickles, spices, fermented or spirituous liquors, and whatever tends to irritate and inflame the body. The most proper food in such cases is broth, barley-water, and decoctions of sorrel, endive, or the like cooling herbs, mixed with small portions of lemon-juice, or other vegetable acids ;, to which may occasionally be added a little nitre, when the inflammation threatens to increase. But, if the tumor incline to gangrene, it requires a very different treatment, and more peculiarly relates to surgery.- See 'the article Gangrene. Inflammation of the Bladder, or Cystitis, an affection of that part of the human frame, accompanied with swelling and pain in the lower region of the belly, frequent and difficult discharge, or total suppression of urine, etc.
Inflammations of the bladder arise from calculous concretions ; obstructions in the urethra; Spanish, flies, either taken internally, or applied to the skin; from wounds, bruises, etc
In this dangerous malady, it will be advisable to resort immediately to medical assistance ; but, if it cannot be easily procured, the patient "may apply leeches round the abdomen. Purgatives. should likewise be administered; and clysters prepared from a decoction.of poppy-heads, maybe injected every second or third hour. It will also be beneficial to apply continually fomentations of the same decoction to the lower bel!y, and to immerse the patient in the tepid bath. ,
Should the disease,. however, terminate by suppuration, and the matter be discharged with the urine, it will be requisite to use the utmost precaution. The patient's diet ought, during the whole progress of" the disorder, to consist of 'the mildest, though nutritive, aliment. He should also avoid every species of food and drink that is stimulant, saline or acrid ; and subsist chiefly on milk, puddings, weak broths, fruits, butter-milk, etc.
Inflammation of the Bow-els or Enteritis, an acute, fixed, burning pain in the lower belly, which is attended with a considerable "degree of tension in the epigastric region (seeAbdomen). The principal symptoms that characterize this fatal malady, are obstinate costiveness a hard and small pulse; a painful, and almost continual hiccough, together with fever, and a constant inclination to vomit.
Inflammations of the bowels may arise in consequence of swallowing any acrid substance ; from violent passion ; drinking large draughts of cold water while the body is overheated ; from obstructed perspiration ; the suppression of any cutaneous eruptions ; repulsion of the gout; external injuries ; such as wounds, contusions, etc.- Persons of a plethoric habit suffer more acutely from this disorder than those of a contrary temperament.
Cure: If the belly be swelled, firm, and painful to the touch, while the pulse is hard and con-tracted, it will be advisable to take some blood from the arm, and to immerse the patient in the tepid bath: but, if this cannot be conveniently effected, flannels may be dipped in hot water, wrung out, and applied lukewarm to the belly. A blister should next be employed as speedily as possible, and mild emollient injections of barley water, gruel, etc. administered, till stools be obtained : the patient should be placed between blankets, and supplied moderately with diluent liquids, such as barley water, rice-gruel, etc.- When the violence of the disorder is somewhat abated, opiates may be administered in clysters, which will be of great advantage in mitigating the pain.
As soon as the stomach is able to retain any laxative, the mildest aperients, such as tamarinds with manna, or phosphorated soda, may be taken by the mouth; but, if the disorder tend to a mortification, the treatment before stated should be steadily pursued ; and, if gangrene eventually take place, or the disease terminate in suppuration, its course must be left to Nature, the patient being kept as quietly as possible.
During the continuance of this most alarming disorder, the diet ought to be very light; the drinking of all stimulating, fermented, or spirituous liquors carefully avoided ; and the mind preserved in a state of tranquillity.
Inflammation'of the Female Breast, is generally occasioned by exposure to cold, repression of the milk, or external violence. It is known by the redness, heat, and pain, either of part or the whole of the breast; and, if the disease be considerable, it is usually preceded by a shivering, and accompanied by fever.
Where the inflammation is violent, the usual practice is to take large quantities of blood from the patient ; but, in common cases, small local bleedings, by means of a few leeches, are fully sufficient. Considerable benefit will also be derived from the application of emollient poultices, prepared with bread, milk, and cold-drawn linseed oil. The maternal milk may likewise be extracted at intervals, and the breast suspended by means of proper bandages. In some recent cases, a solution of sal ammoniac has been externally applied with success.
If the inflammation continue, it will be requisite to persevere in the use of emollient cataplasms and fomentations : but, as the complaint is of a delicate nature, it will always be advisable to resort to proper medical assistance.
Inflammation of the Ear, or Otitis, a painful affection of the cavity of the ear, which is sometimes consequent on the Mumps, but is more frequently occasioned by exposure to cold. In slight cases, this affection may be removed by dropping a little warm oil of almonds into the ear, and by the application of a common poultice of bread and milk, or of a bag of chamomile flowers; either of which ought to be made sufficiently warm. Should the disorder, however, not yield to these remedies, surgical assistance ought to be procured without delay; lest a suppuration take place, and be attended with total loss of the organ of hearing.
Inflammation of the Eye, or Ophthalmia, an uncommon redness of, and acute pain in the part affected; an inability to bear the light; and involuntary shedding of tears.
This malady is often occasioned by external injuries, such as blows, burns, bruises, and the like. It also arises from splinters, dust, sand, lime, acrid fluids, or other extraneous substances insinuating themselves under the eye-lids; from affections of the teeth ; the suppression of evacuations ; the precipitate healing of old ulcers ; and long exposure to the night air.
Peculiarities: Inflammations of the eye are frequently annual; and instances have occurred, in which they returned at stated periods, and even became chronical: they are farther contagious, and may be. caught by mere intuition of the ophthalmia in others.
Method of Cure: When the disease is of a mild nature, it will be useful to put leeches to the temple of the eye affected, in a number proportioned to the age and strength of the patient: after the bleeding Has ceased, a blister may be applied, and brisk purgatives given. To obviate the mischief arising from the use of quack medicines, such as lotions, etc. we shall briefly observe, that there is no better colly-rium than simple rose-water. Beside these remedies, much benefit has been received from shaving the head, or cutting the hair; from bathing the feet and legs frequently in warm water; and, where the inflammation succeeds the smallpox, from applying infusions of marsh-mallows with sal ammoniac to the inflamed parts. In cases of periodical ophthalmia, emetics have been of eminent service, and in some instances completely removed the complaint; but, if it have arisen from particles of iron accidentally dropped into the eye, they may be easily extracted by means of the magnet, and thus the disease checked in its progress. ThunBERG advises the vapour of cajeput oil to be frequently applied; and Mr. Ware, in his practical " Remarks on the Ophthalmy, etc." recommends a few drops of laudanum to be introduced into the eye; -such a powerful remedy, however, should be administered only by the expert practitioner.
If the means before stated prove ineffectual, and the pain in the inflamed parts rather increase than abate, professional assistance must be speedily procured. Meanwhile, the eve should be carefully secluded from the influence of light, or the patient may confine himself to a dark room, having a temperature neither too cold nor too warm, and cautiously avoid a draught of air. His diet cannot be too miid.- Lost-ly, in this, as well as every other species of inflammation, it is of the utmost importance to abstain from all heating or stimulating aliment and liquors, from all violent efforts both of body and of mind ; and to encourage an inclination to sleep.