The good old days - Catarrh

This is an inflammatory irritation of the mucous membrane lining the air-passages - the nostrils and bronchi. It usually commences in the former and extends to the latter.

Catarrh, or 'a cold', as its popular name implies, is generally the result of cold combined with damp, but quite as frequently of checked perspiration in consequence of the individual passing from a heated room to a current of cold air. Catarrh commences with feverish symptoms more or less severe, and shivering followed by heat. A peculiar dryness and heat of the lining membrane of the nostril is followed by discharge of thin, acrid, watery fluid, a 'running at the nose', and with this, there is intense headache between the eyes. The throat may be first affected, or the chest itself may be directly attacked. It may quickly become so and the windpipe feels raw, and there is frequent cough, dry and harsh, or with thin expectoration, and the breathing is oppressed; there is, in fact, subacute bronchitis. 

The evil of a 'neglected cold' has become proverbial. The attack ought to be checked at first. The first measure in incipient cold is to restore and excite the action of the skin to get free perspiration. This is best accomplished by the vapour or warm-bath, but if these cannot be had, the best remedies are hot water to the feet, a warm bed and hot drinks, along with diaphoretic medicine.

A draught consisting of half an ounce of spirit of mindererus, one to two drachms of paregoric, and 10 to 15 drops of ipecacuanha wine, with water sufficient to fill a wine glass, should be given with five grains of Plummer's pill on getting into bed. About an hour afterwards, a warm drink composed either of gruel or barley water should be taken. In the morning some gentle aperient, senna or castor oil, or Seidlitz powder is to be taken. If there is irritation to the chest at night, a fomentation, a mustard plaster or friction with a stimulant liniment may be employed.

Taken from A Dictionary of Domestic Medicine and Surgery by Dr S Thomson MD LRCS, and Dr J C Steele MD, published in 1882 by Charles Griffin and Co of London.

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