Ballina, Mayo, Ireland
Wednesday, August 8, 1849
TREATMENT OF CHOLERA
(From the Philadelphia Public Ledger of July 10)
Messrs. Editors- This disease is now among us, and the cases though small,
numerically, have been sufficiently marked to show the character of the
epidemic, and it differs from the disease in its visitation of 1832, by the
shortness of the attacks, and the absence, in many instances, of what are
generally termed "prominent symptoms." A few hints at this time may not be
inappropriate, and my promise to give you a sketch of the disease will be
First- Cholera if truly a disease of prostration.- Even in in slight cases,
there is always a depression of the physical and mental energies- the
copiousness of the alvine discharge, with the violence of the vomitings, both
alarm and weaken the sufferer by their rapid action and consequent prostration.
This season these discharges have not been preceded by any marked pain, but come
at once-generally short in the intervals, scanty in quantity, but
enfeebling-resembling what is known as the "rice water" discharges of 1832,
while in other cases "coffee grounds." Frequently a stitch in the left side
(descending colon), or a sharp pain across the abdomen, is the only precursor
while again a feeling of wretchedness or "malaire" may be the only announcement
of the attack. Again, there may be an "entire absence of pain" (this was
observed in the south and west, in a marked degree), and the patient sinks into
the arms of death so rapidly as scarcely to feel its pangs!
Secondly- the treatment- Here the adage will apply, for in the treatment of
cholera, "Doctors differ." But, as the writer has no theory to establish (see
the exposure of the sulphur and charcoal imposition, the pills giving on
chemical analysis a large quantity of morphine), and is only anxious to aid his
fellow citizens in using precautionary measures, and to suggest certain means to
be used in the absence of medical aid; he trusts his professional brethren will
excuse his writing to the people and not to them.
The first thing to be done with these attacked with cholera is to put them
at once in bed, and in a horizontal position. Motion even to bed is very
injurious. To allay the thirst, which is intense, put into the mouth small
pieces of ice; cold water is rejected, while ice refreshes and is retained.
A few drops of laudanum, with strong spirits of camphor, on sugar, and
given repeatedly with a little cold water; or the remedy given by the writer in
the Ledger last week, will allay the vomiting and purging. Hot bricks to the
feet, with the enveloping the limbs in bags filled with shot, sand or salt, will
allay the cramps, or, in their absence, cloths wrung out of hot water, with warm
and dry frictions with the hand or brusher, will give relief. In the meantime
secure medical aid and not relax your efforts, even under the most alarming and
discouraging circumstances. A gill of clove brandy (made by adding half a
teacupful of powdered cloves to a pint of the best brandy) to a tumbler of acid
or hot water, as the stomach will retain it, is a safe stimulus. Avoid the use
of all "cholera preventatives," whether sanctioned by high medical or other
authority; also saline or drastic cathartics and the abuse of either the spirits
or gum camphor as they destroy the tone of the stomach and injure the
susceptibility of the nervous system.
Thirdly- Keep the mind and body quiet, use flannel under garments, avoiding
undue fatigue, exposure to damp or night air, and the direct action of the sun.
Live simply, without an excess of vegetable food; let everything be well cooked
and eaten in moderation. Do not work on an empty stomach, as the poison of the
disease is then more readily absorbed, neither neglect any disturbances of the
stomach or bowels. Consult your physician at once. Rest for a few hours will
save many a life. Take no stimulus, either medicinal or spirituous, to keep off
cholera; avoid "root beers," similar compounds, as their use irritates the
digestive organs and renders persons more liable to irritations.
Finally- Recollect cholera is not contagious; that we can attend the
suffering and dying with impunity; and while we thus render ourselves useful we
are not exposed to any direct injury form our benevolent and charitable deeds.
The Creator, in inflicting this scourge on mankind, has, in his infinite wisdom,
and mercy, taken from the bed of sickness the horror of the "plague of old,"
leaving to us the painful but Christian duty of affording succour to the
departing, without the sacrifices of the living.
Very respectfully yours,
A.D. CHALONER, M.D.
Schuykill Eighth-street, below Spruce, Philadelphia, July 9, 1849.
Take of wine of ipecac, and spts., of peppermint each two fluid drachms,
Sydenham's laudanum, one drachm, spts. camphor 1/2 a drachm; +Etherial tincture
of Valerian 1/2 a fluid ounce.
Dose for a child, from five to eight drops in a teaspoonful iced water,
every half hour to two hours. For an adult, 30 drops to half a teaspoonful at
the same intervals.
+ Etherial tincture of Valerian, made by adding two drachms of the fluid
extract of Valerian (oft kept in the shops), to one fluid ounce of sulphuric
Cathy Joynt Labath
Ireland Old News