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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/2126

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responsible person should apply it to the feet of children. This must not be applied to broken chilblains.

Convulsions.—Some children are much more liable to suffer from convulsions than others, owing to their nervous system being more impressionable.

Causes.—Difficulty in teething is a very frequent cause, the irritation of the gums affecting the brain; and when the cause of irritation is removed the convulsions disappear. Indigestible articles of food are another very frequent cause; fright may occasion convulsions, and anything profoundly affecting the mother, such as anger, terror, grief, may so act upon her when nursing as to give rise to convulsions in the infact from indigestion.

Symptoms.—Sometimes the convulsions are partial; thus an arm may twitch or certain portions of the face. The writer recollects being called to a child suffering from partial convulsions, whose mother, recognizing, from the inflamed condition of the gums, that the teething was at fault, took out her penknife and scratched the surface, which was really just what was required. Again, the convulsion may be general, when the muscles of the face, eyes, eyelids and limbs are in a violent state of rapid contraction alternating with relaxation. Froth may appear at the mouth, which, if the tongue has been bitten, will be tinged with blood. The head is generally thrown back, and the thumbs pressed in upon the palms of the hands.

Treatment.—If the teeth are plainly at fault, the gums must be scarified with a piece of lump sugar or lanced with a gum lancet, and 3 grains of bromide of potassium may be given in a little water. If due to some indigestible article of diet, it must be got rid of as soon as possible. A safe emetic is a teaspoonful of ipecacuanha wine in tepid water; drinks of tepid water being afterwards given. This, of course, is only to be given if it is thought that some indigestible article of food has given rise to the convulsions, and if too long a time has not elapsed since it was swallowed. If some hours have elapsed, it will be better to give a teaspoonful of castor-oil. The following mixture will be found useful, and may be given to children from 1 to 3 years old: bromide of potassium, 2 drachms; iodide of potassium, half a drachm; syrup of orange peel, 1 ounce; water to make 4 ounces. A teaspoonful every 3 hours, till all tendency to twitching of the muscles has passed away. Another very useful item of treatment is a warm bath or a pack. A sheet should be wrung out of hot water and wrapped round the child from the neck downwards, and over this one or two blankets. The child should remain in this for 1 hour, after which time it may be taken out and dried with warm towels. Or the child may be immersed in a warm bath up to the neck, or put in a hip-bath with as much water as can be got into it, so as to cover as much of the body as possible. A tablespoonful of mustard added to the water will, by acting as a counter irritant, increase the efficacy of the bath. It should