A WIDE field for study, and one scarcely yet trodden by the therapeutist, is that which gives us substances capable of causing and curing asphyxia. What of Oxygen in animal tissue invariably leads to a general disturbance, the central phenomena of which appear in respiratory and cardiac symptoms. The blood in the capillaries is retarded in its flow, and at length fails utterly to pass into the veins. Then the heart, which at first worked harder to overcome the resistance, beats more and more quickly, but at the same time more and more feebly, until it finally becomes paralyzed. Such a calamity follows, first, because the heart muscle is exhausted by its undue efforts, and secondly, because its blood, deprived of Oxygen, fails to impart its essential stimulus.
The symptoms which more or less characterize asphyxia are; “Pectoral anxiety, dyspnoea, rapid feeble pulse, surface coldness, restlessness or stupor, with cold blue skin”.
Among the possible remedies, which may be added to those already so well-known, are the following: Carbonous Oxide (CO) is one of the few substances which can, like Oxygen, combine with, or unite itself to the red corpuscle. Hence its poisonous action depends principally upon the displacement of Oxygen, with consequent suffocation.
At first there is a notable increase in the blood pressure. There is flushed face, deep-red as from venous hyperaemia. A characteristic headache sets in, throbbing in the temporal arteries; lightness and constriction, worse about the temples; palpitation of heart. The patient soon feels stupid, confused or acts like one drunk. Respiration becomes stertorous and slow; the breath becomes cool, and complete unconsciousness, or trismus with convulsions, follows. The surface of the body, at first red, soon turns livid, cyanotic, and the temperature falls perceptibly. Death may close the scene, or partial recovery occur, with sell defined Hemiplegia. Other cases end in perfect recovery.
This picture forcibly reminds one of the effects of Opium, and doubtless Carbonous Oxide will compare with the latter remedy in practice. The suddenness of its symptoms, the cerebral hyperaemia, and subsequent Hemiplegia, suggest its trial in Apoplexy and also in embolism. As a remedy serviceable in asphyxia arising from pulmonary affections, it would seem to stand between Carbo Veg. and Opium having the hyperaemia of the latter with the coldness of the former. Cases of poisoning with the gas have developed Pleurisy, Bronchitis, Emphysema, with bloody sputum, weakened vesicular murmur, and Pneumonia. Its subjective symptoms are: “Anxiety in the chest or feeling of a heavy load on the chest etc”. There are also recorded, rattling of mucous in the air-passages, bloody mucus raised from the bronchi, heat in chest, and abdomen, extremities cold.
Aniline (C6H5NH2), thought chemically different from Carbon, containing Hydrogen, Nitrogen, etc, behaves like the Carbons, and may be medicinally considered with them. Aniline is not an intense poison, but its effects are those of asphyxiation. The patients, after inhaling its fumes, are seized with giddiness, and may become insensible. Face and body become cold and blue, pulse slow or imperceptible, breathing, heavy and labored. If conscious and able to speak, he complains of pain in head and chest. Compare Hydrocyanic Acid.
The Sulphate of Aniline has been proved and successfully administered by Dr.C. Wesselhoeft. He has used it in diseases accompanied by excessive flatulence, loathing, disagreeable taste, and costiveness, common after too much fruit, cabbage, beans, etc. Compare with Carbo Veg., Graphites, etc.