Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/205

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THE REMEDIES OF NATURE.

of forty-eight hours the danger is past, and out-door exercise may be gradually resumed.

For stubborn dyspnœa (want of breath) there is a somewhat heroic but almost infallible palliative, though I own that the rationale of its efficacy is somewhat undefined—artificial insomnia. Read or write as long as that will keep you awake; after midnight walk up and down the room for fear of falling asleep in the chair, and toward morning, when drowsiness becomes irresistible, go to bed for a few hours, and that they will be passed in peaceful sleep can generally be inferred from the circumstance that by that time the dyspnœa has disappeared. After the second night's vigils the trouble is not apt to recur for a month or so. But, unless the distress is utterly unbearable, or the necessity for prompt recuperation very urgent, it is, on the whole, better to eschew palliatives and rely on the only permanent asthma-cure—the gradual but normal invigoration of the whole system.

In chronic catarrh—a frequent concomitant of a tubercular diathesis—the obstruction of the nasal ducts by accumulated mucus yields in a day or two to any exercise that brings into play the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and chest, such as shouldering a good-sized log, walking bolt-upright with two large pails full of water, or a loaded wheelbarrow. A very simple household remedy is a palliative to the same effect: hot water applied to the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. It affords immediate though often only temporary relief; for the diathermal influence of the hot-water treatment, as it were, dries up, and thus temporarily reduces the mucous accumulations, while the preferable exercise-cure more gradually but permanently removes the cause of the trouble.

The stitch-like pain in the chest is apt to recur with every catarrh, and forms, indeed, only an incidental concomitant of tubercular consumption. It is a pleuritic affection, and is often entirely wanting in cases that end with death by tubercular cachexia. The Calmuck Tartars, who defile the air of their family tents with tobacco-smoke and suffer the usual consequences, cure pleuritic inflammation by a simple method of inunction: viz., by fomenting the nape and chest with hot mutton-tallow. When loss of appetite indicates a derangement of the digestive organs, ointments may be used as a temporary substitute for a demulcent diet.

Dropsical swellings, chronic diarrhœa, with frequent chills, prove that the disease has reached the colliquative or hopeless stage of its development. But, even under such circumstances, the mountain-cure, in the form of moderate exercise in the pure air of a highland sanitarium, will confer at least the negative benefit of saving the patient from the horrors preceding the last act of a hospital-tragedy—it will insure an anæsthetic conclusion of the disease; the vital strength will ebb away in a painless deliquium.

But while the vital forces still keep the foe at bay, i. e., before the