–When from any cause the bile secreted by the liver is unable to pass away by its natural channels into the intestines, there to mix with the food, it is absorbed into the blood, and carried all over the body, part of it being eliminated by the kidneys, and, passing away by the urine, to which it gives a deep strain, and part of it finding its way into all the tissues of the body, and turning them yellow. This condition is called jaundice. It is sometimes a symptom of disease of the liver itself, but generally due to an affection of the bile ducts, temporarily preventing the passing away of the bile. According to the cause of the jaundice will be the gravity of the case, and the general symptoms of the patient will decide which it is. When jaundice comes on suddenly, and the health is not severely impaired, fever being present or not, it is simple jaundice.
It may arise from many causes, among which may be named–A chill, acute indigestion, a fit of passion, the action of drugs, such as mercury and cinchona.
The symptoms of jaundice are, first and foremost, and yellowness of the tissues. This is first seen in the whites of the eyes, but rapidly spreads over the whole surface of the body. When overflow of bile becomes very intense the colour passes from yellow to green. Other symptoms are derangement of the digestion, loaded tongue, often vomiting, loss of appetite, and constipation, the stools being quite devoid of colour when they pass. As the patient gets better all these symptoms gradually subside, but the discoloration of the skin is often a long time in passing away.
General Treatment.–The patient must be kept in bed, and fed on the lightest diet–barley-water, thin gruel, skim-milk. If there is much itching, sponging with vinegar and hot water (one pint in six) is agreeable.
Medicines.–(Every two hours.)
–Great pain and tenderness in liver region; patient cannot bear to be moved; relief from lying on affected side.
–The most useful medicine, if it has not been already abused.
–If mercury is the cause.
–If China is not sufficient.
–In irritable persons how are subject to the disease from the slightest cause.
–When arising from fits of passion.
Nux. v. 3.
–If Chamomilla is insufficient.
–Great itching; violent attacks of yawning.