Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/501

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
485
THE REMEDIES OF NATURE.

hardly ever attacks the same person more than once. Ague, on the contrary, recurs with the return of every favorable opportunity; nay, persons who have suffered most from remittent fevers are especially liable to relapses, and, if the disease is allowed to continue, its result is the same impoverishment of the blood (chlorosis and jaundice) which the paroxysm of yellow fever effects in a few hours. It is not safe to count upon an early frost, or immediate relief by a change of climate (in midsummer, especially, when the weather is often as warm at the borders of the Arctic Circle as fifty degrees farther south). And the persistent neglect of dietetic precautions under reliance on the prophylactic effect of a weekly dose of quinine would be strictly analogous to an attempt to legalize the sins of Don Juan by saturating the system with mercury.

In yellow fever large doses of quinine directly increase the chief danger of the disease by arresting the excretion of uric acid, which, passing into the circulation, has been recognized as a main cause of the convulsions and coma which so often inaugurate the hopeless stage of the deliquium.

During the delirious paroxysms of climatic fevers, ice-water may be administered like medicine, by spoonfuls, but solid food should never be forced upon the patient. When coolness, sweetness, and fruity flavors can not make a dish acceptable to the appetite, its obtrusion upon the stomach would do more harm than good, and it is a great mistake to suppose that even total abstinence could in such cases aggravate the danger of the disease. At San Nazaro, near Brescia, the Austrian hospital-town after the battle of Solferino, a wounded Hungarian sergeant, whose three tent-comrades had died of typhus syncopalis ("spotted fever"), cured himself of the same disease by an absolute fast of eight days, not including the two days of his transport from the battle-field, when he had taken a cup of coffee and a mouthful of bread. In malignant cases of yellow fever the revulsions of the bowels often invert the digestive process for days together; chyle, as well as the nutritive elements of the blood, are forced back upon the stomach and disgorged in that eruption of cruor commonly called the "black-vomit"; and the ingestion of food would, under such circumstances, only aggravate the gastric distress.

With the power of assimilation, the appetite for solid nourishment gradually returns; but this re-establishment of the digestive process is greatly retarded by the obtrusion of a distasteful diet, especially animal food and all greasy made-dishes. The peculiar dietetic whims of fever-patients, their sudden cravings for a special kind of food, drink, or condiment, can with certain exceptions (or the revival of an alcohol passion) be indulged without danger, and generally indicate a favorable turn of the crisis. "Ya se va á volver; pide chilé"—"He'll soon be all right; he's asking for chile" (red pepper or pepper-sauce)—is a standing form of congratulation among the Spanish-American