Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/630

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the sunlit fields, imbibing vitality at the fountain-head, for the same sun that evolved the fern-forests of the Miocene alluvium has still means of his own for quickening the vital energy of the most complex organisms. That tonic catholicon operates even through the triple teguments of a French uniform. After the tedium of a long voyage, and the delay in the Vera Cruz harbor-barracks, the French troops in Mexico suffered from a form of asthma that resisted all medication, but a six days' march through the hills of the tierra templada brought permanent relief, except to a few invalids who had been transported in closed ambulances. At first, though, the remedy is apt to aggravate the evil. After a couple of sleepless nights, the first day of a pedestrian tour, even through the paradise of a June landscape, is steep, uphill work, but, with the aid of a merry traveling-companion and a. light knapsack, Nature will at last prevail, and three days' hardship is a cheap price for the remission of a three weeks' daily and nightly martyrdom—besides the possible sequelæ. For the chief danger of chronic asthma is the probability of serious pathological complications. The direct result of dyspnœa is the impoverishment of the blood by an impeded process of aeration, and the concomitants of the disease are therefore analogous to those of pulmonary phthisis and protracted in-door life—hypertrophy of the heart, emphysema, or swelling of the lungs, inflammation of the bronchi, dropsical swellings of the extremities. Even short attacks often lead to malignant aftereffects—insomnia, indigestion, headache, and a peculiar affection of the lungs that closely simulates the premonitory symptoms of pneumonia; after the asthma proper has entirely subsided, a new difficulty of breathing supervenes in the form of twitching pains in the pleura and the upper lobes of the lungs. Before the end of the second day, rest, embrocations with hot mutton-tallow, and a spare diet, generally relieve these symptoms, which follow more frequently after a drug suppressed case of asthma than after the pedestrian-cure. The latter method of treatment is intuitively indicated by the restlessness of asthma-patients. The same hygienic instinct which makes a passionate longing for refrigeration a regular symptom of climatic fevers seems here to prompt peripatetic enterprises by associating in-door life with the idea of apoplexy and suffocation.

Like consumption, asthma is a house-disease. Want of fresh air and exercise will counteract all prophylactics, while the out-door liver can confine his precautions to the beginning of the warm season. A frugal diet, both as an hygienic aperient and a sedative of irate passions, will help the patient over the asthma-weeks (May and June in the north, and April and May in the lower latitudes); an airy bedroom and cold baths, over the summer season. The winter months will take care of themselves, and every year thus passed diminishes the danger of relapse.