Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/629

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

In exceptionally malignant cases it may be necessary to supplement the legumen-cure by refrigeration—sponge-baths, or artificially cooled bedrooms; and while there is any danger of a relapse it is the safest plan to postpone the bed-hour beyond the usual time. After rolling and tossing about till relieved by that form of sleep which the Germans call "Ein-dämmern"—the twilight state between sleeping and waking—the patient is almost sure to start up with a feeling of strangulation, but the slumber induced by the silence and drowsiness of the small hours is not apt to be thus interrupted. Leaving the club-house at 11 p. m., or the family circle at 10; then a few hours with an interesting book, reserved for that special purpose; perhaps a little midnight lunch (but no coffee, unless habit has palliated its anti-hypnotic effect); then a somnolent old story-book; an easy-chair within reach of a boot-jack, ready to take advantage of the first drowsy spell—for those spells come and go—and a well-timed attempt will secure immediate success, with large odds in favor of a good night's rest.

An horizontal position aggravates dyspnœa, and with a few extra pillows, or by simply raising the head of the bedstead, the patient can sleep in a half-sitting posture, and should still further assist nature by opening the bedroom-windows, or removing his bed to the airiest place in the house. After a heavy supper, an unventilated dormitory alone can lethargize the lungs to a suffocating degree, for a nightmare is mostly nothing but a transient fit of asthma.

Fresh air, combined with a lung-stimulating exercise, is the last resort in an obstinate case of chronic asthma, and a foot-journey in summer adds to those stimulants the too often underrated nerve-tonic of sunlight. Maurus Nagy, the Hungarian Natur-Doctor, used to cure his asthma-patients by making them strip to the waist, and keeping them at work in his mountain-vineyard. The ancient Romans had establishments for regular sun-baths (solaria); and I can not help thinking that the robust health of their country population had much to do with their habit of working bareheaded and bare-shouldered in

    while both among the North-German schnapps-drinkers and the abstemious natives of Southern France the complaint is almost as frequent as consumption. In explanation of the paradox some German doctors have alleged the "diffusion of the tonic effect," secured by the large quantity of the Bavarian stimulant; others, the demulcent influence of malt-liquors. The key of the enigma, I suspect, is the peptic influence of a liberal diluent. Our greasy, pungent, and concentrated diet needs a larger admixture of fluids. The dread of cold water, and of water-drinking during meals, is a consequence of the sadly-prevalent delusion that suspects the competency of our natural instincts. The food of our arboreal relatives contains at least eighty per cent of pure water; the diet of the grape-cure patients about ninety-five per cent. Instinct is a pretty safe guide in such matters, and, unless the habitual indulgence in distilled liquors has made water distasteful, the stomach craves about a pint of fluids for each pound of solid food. Fresh water is healthier than beer, but even in the form of lager-beer an abundant diluent would relieve the symptoms of gastric distress resulting from a daily struggle with an overdose of undiluted viands.