Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/2056

This page has been validated.

to cold, or any of the exciting causes of the disease. For those who are engaged in outdoor occupations, and exposed to all the inclemency of the weather, but little can be done to alleviate any distressing symptoms that may arise. Thick boots should be worn, clothes changed when wet, and the patient be told to breathe through the nose, to be out as seldom as possible at night, and use a respirator.

Cancer.—The very name of this disease is fraught with so much significance, and the diagnosis is a matter of so much doubt to the lay mind, that the subject becomes out of the scope of this work. In the case of any tumour being discovered medical advice should be taken at once, as if it should be of a malignant type early treatment may effect a permanent cure.

Colic is a griping pain in the intestines, and often accompanied by a painful distension of the whole of the lower region of the bowels, with vomiting, costiveness and spasmodic contraction of the muscles of the abdomen.

Causes.—The complaint is produced by various causes, such as crude, indigestible fruits, long continued costiveness, cold, or it may be due, as in painter's colic, to poisoning by lead.

Treatment.—If caused by some indigestable article of food, a dose of castor-oil had better be taken, say a tablespoonful for an adult, to which from 10 to 15 drops of laudanum may be added. If the pain is very severe, a turpentine stupe may be applied over the abdomen.

Constipation is a symptom which may be due to disease of the bowels, or to an imperfect performance of their function. Any disease, such as ulceration or cancer, which obstructs the passage of the food, will cause constipation; and any condition which produces a paralysed or sluggish state of the muscular walls of the bowel will likewise cause constipation by removing or interfering with the propelling power. With rare exceptions people can never enjoy good health while they suffer from constipation; liver complaint, dyspepsia, headache, vertigo, and piles are some of the direct results of this condition.

Of all the causes which originate and establish habitual constipation, there is none so general as inattention to regularity. Men of sedentary pursuits are naturally more prone to the error of irregular habits than practical men; hence general and local disorder of the stomach is more prevalent among them. Women often fall into the same error in the neglect of regularity. Habitual constipation is not unusual in women after a confinement, in people of a nervous temperament, and in those who lead a sedentary life. The practice of taking relaxing medicine, pills, etc., habitually, also disposes to this. In all such cases an altered diet and regular habits will nearly always suffice.

Treatment.—A glass of cold water taken on rising in the morning will, in some, prove efficacious. A light breakfast to those who are sedentary will favour this action. Coarse brown or bran bread is very useful; figs, prunes and ripe fruits are also beneficial; exercise in the