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Good Health and Bad Medicine:
 First Aid - Part 1

 First Aid - Part 2

 First Aid - Part 3

 First Aid - Part 4

 First Aid - Part 5

 First Aid - Part 6

 Medicine Cabinet


 Pain - Part 2

 Liniments, Rubbing Salves And Plasters

 Read More Articles About: Good Health and Bad Medicine

First Aid - Part 6

( Originally Published 1940 )


Prolonged exposure to the sun may cause not only severe sunburn but also a more serious condition—sunstroke. Those affected with heart or kidney disease or pulmonary tuberculosis are more likely to suffer from sunstroke than those in sound health. To prevent it, avoid prolonged exposure to midday summer sun. If you have to be in the sun, keep the head covered.

The symptoms of sunstroke consist of headache, dizziness, difficult breathing, fever and often unconsciousness.

Remove the patient to a cool, shady place and remove as much clothing as possible. If a water hose is available, play cold water over body. If not, sponge body with cold water until a physician arrives.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is also a serious condition. It results from prolonged exposure to intense heat. (Workers in foundries, kitchens and engine rooms are especially liable to heat exhaustion.) It is the removal of salt (sodium chloride) from the body in the sweat that is responsible for the extreme weakness, shallow breathing, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and other symptoms that occur. Heat exhaustion may be prevented by taking a tablet of common salt several times daily to replace the chlorides lost in the sweat. The drinking of slightly cooled water containing salt (1/2 teaspoonful to a quart of water) is effective in preventing heat cramps or the recurrent attacks of muscular spasm prevalent among persons exposed to high heat or who perform hard exercise on a hot day.

Furuncles, Boils and Carbuncles

These are infections of the skin or the tissue underlying the skin by a germ. An occasional attack of furuncles or boils is not unusual. Frequent attacks, however, imply a low resistance of the skin to infection. Competent medical care is imperative, since the skin infection may be simply an expression of some underlying constitutional disorder, such as diabetes.

Until medical care can be obtained, the best treatment is to apply hot wet compresses of boric acid (i teaspoonful to a glass of boiling water) or Epsom salts (i teaspoonful to a glass of boiling water). The moisture and heat will relieve pain, bring the infection to a head, and soften the skin so that it is easier for the pus to evacuate itself.

Never squeeze a pimple or a boil. It is the surest way of spreading infection. It is particularly dangerous to do this with infections in or near the nose or on the upper lip. Meningitis and brain abscess occur in many people who squeeze pimples in these areas. You can recover from a pimple, but you cannot easily recover from a brain infection.

Don't apply messy ointments or salves such as ichthyol, or soaps such as Iodex. These products do not "draw out the pus" or clear up the infection. They more often retard healing by preventing adequate drainage. Moisture and heat in the form of hot, wet dressings are the best means of combatting local, superficial infections.


Although poisoning was a favorite technique of Renaissance tyrants, it was never so prevalent as today. The advances in chemistry, industrial manufacture and in the arts and crafts have multiplied many times the sources of potential poisons. The art of patent-medicine vending has contributed no small store to the sum of poisonings caused by modern drugs, chemicals and dyes. For example, in New York State alone, exclusive of New York City, in the period from 1926 to 1932, there were 158 fatal poisonings from all causes in children five years of age and under. Seventy-five of these deaths were due to the strychnine present in cathartic pills such as A.B.S. & C., A.B.S. and Dr. Hinkle's Cascara Pills.

As a matter of fact, children are particularly prone to poisonings because of their tendency to roam about the house, fingering and sucking on anything they come in con-tact with. Rat poisons and insect powders have brought grief to many a child and parent. Candy or chocolate-coated laxatives such as Ex-Lax have caused many cases of colic, severe irritation of the intestines, and even collapse.

Accidental poisonings can be avoided if a few precautions are kept in mind:

1. All poisons and medicines should be kept out of reach of children, and locked up.

2. Drugs such as bichloride of mercury or carbolic acid should be distinctly marked "Poison." Cathartic tablets such as Hinkle's Cascara, A.B.S. or A.B.S. & C. Pills have no place in a medicine chest.

3. Know what substances in the home are poisonous. Use nonpoisonous substitutes if possible.

4. When a poison is bought, learn how to treat poisoning by it and buy the proper antidote.

The most important procedure in the emergency treatment of poisoning is the emptying of the stomach and the prevention of the absorption of the toxic material from the intestinal tract into the blood. Vomiting is the natural method by which the intestinal tract may be emptied. Usually, however, simple vomiting does not completely rid the stomach and intestines of the poison, and too frequently vomiting occurs spontaneously only after a considerable amount of the poison has been absorbed, or after considerable damage has been done to the intestinal tract.

There are a number of ways in which the stomach may be emptied. It can be accomplished by washing the stomach by means of a stomach tube. However, the insertion of a stomach tube is a procedure which can be properly performed only by one who is trained to do it. Vomiting can be induced rapidly and effectively by the injection of a drug called apomorphine, but apomorphine is a narcotic which can be obtained and used only by a physician. Vomiting can also be induced by giving the patient a nauseating mixture to drink, such as fresh mustard and warm water. Usually, however, fresh mustard is available only at grocery and drug stores, which may not be open when needed. Furthermore, the time required for any of these procedures by one who is not expert is too valuable to waste.

The simplest method of inducing vomiting is to tickle or, irritate the throat with a finger. Vomiting will empty the stomach of most of the poison present. A doctor or ambulance should then be called, and the person who makes the call should state that it is a case of poisoning. If the name of the specific poison taken is known, this information should be transmitted as well.

After the stomach has been emptied it is well to wash it in order to remove any poison remaining on its walls. This can be done by giving the patient about a pint of water (two glasses will do) and then once again inducing vomiting with the finger. This procedure should then be repeated. After the second washing, another pint of water should be administered and allowed to remain in the stomach in order that whatever poison remains may be diluted.

The best solutions for washing the stomach are milk, strong tea and strong coffee. If, however, milk is not immediately available or strong tea or coffee are not already pre-pared and immediately available, tap water or any other fluid should be used. Speed is imperative.

After the stomach has been thoroughly emptied and washed, the patient should be placed in bed, allowed complete rest, and given as much fluid of any sort to drink as possible. Often the stomach will be unable to retain anything, and vomiting will continue persistently.

In poisoning by phenol or carbolic acid, a dilute solution of alcohol is best for washing the stomach. Wine, beer or whiskey diluted with three parts of water may be used. A large lump of butter or about four tablespoonfuls of salad, cooking or olive oil may also be given, because oils tend to modify the harmful effects of carbolic acid on the stomach.

In poisoning by strong acid, a handful of bicarbonate of soda (ordinary baking soda) should be dumped into the water with which the stomach is to be washed. Do not lose valuable time in attempting to measure out a correct amount. For poisoning by strong alkalies such as lye or potash, mild acids such as vinegar added to water are valuable.

There is one specific condition in which special precautions must be taken and in which the procedure outlined above should never be followed. When poisoning induces convulsions (violent, jerky, involuntary, purposeless movements of the arms and legs) vomiting should never be induced. The victim should be left strictly alone, exactly where he happens to be lying. Do not attempt to move or carry him to a bed or to a more comfortable position. The physician should be informed in advance of the presence of convulsions so that he may come prepared to give proper treatment.

Convulsions due to poisoning occur most frequently in poisoning by strychnine. It is safe to induce vomiting only immediately after the strychnine has been taken, but not after the slightest suggestion of involuntary convulsive movements has appeared.

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