The Scotch say that “children and dogs always know their friends,” a thing that older persons are not always guilty of;but, then, the former have not yet been civilized and drilled in the high art of duplicity, and that makes a difference. Our little fellows use their eyes surprisingly well, and sense the newcomer long before he is aware of it. It is a way that becomes less efficient with maturity and artificial culture.
Our first study is the child itself, particularly all of his dominating moods, for this is the master key to every sickness. It is here that airs and assumed profundity don’t count; only mutual friendship and understanding win the day.
Children are sick without being able to talk much about themselves. They act their symptoms and well they do it, too; but you must be prepared to read the acting, or your defeat is certain from the beginning. This also has the advantage of sweeping away much uncertainty, as well as avoiding the mire of self-interpretation. It is an objectiveness of immense value, faithfully portraying the real internal state of affairs.
Many prescribers habitually give Chamomilla to cross babies; but it must be remembered that it is much more certainly indicated if the child is turbulent, howls, spoils for a fight or must be appeased at all costs. They are all-around bad little men; too much taken up with their own cursedness to be as alert as the typical Nux vomica children usually are. Then, again, soothing syrup, teething or earache, and not booze, is apt to be the special cause of this lovely frame of mind. Give nothing lower than IM, and at long intervals, if you want results. There is a very real difference.
The Lycopodium patient is another cross one, hateful, cranky, stubborn and averse to the doctor. He is specially irritable on first awaking, and nearly always shows some sort of automatic act somewhere. It may at first be only a faint but regular motion of the alae nasi, which will soon become more distinct, or some other rhythmic act will appear as the sickness advances. You older men know how often this will be present in certain forms of tubercular meningitis, and how then Lycopodium makes a glorious record and cures and case; but you must not be afraid of repeating even a very high potency every time the improvement slackens. As most of you know, this symptom also points to either Phosphorus or Lycopodium in pneumonia. Here the two remedies compete sharply for the preference.
Bryonia patients are also easily irritated; they don’t want to be bothered. But the great sign for this remedy is immobility. The sick one may lie for hours without moving, and even then object to it or show signs of pain. If you raise his head he looks faint. Bryonia is cross, constipated, too hot and very quiet. Just the reverse of Rhus all around, although the sensations may be very much alike.
The Antimonium Tart. child won’t have many smiles for you, but shrinks petulantly away and drowses of indifferent to the world. If you are mistakenly persistent he becomes angry, and quickly breaks out in sweat, for he is much relaxed. The face has a peculiar dusky tinge, and there is often a fine rattle within the chest, all of which has led to its large use in capillary bronchitis, where it has won numberless laurels. The potency should be very high, and the dose but rarely repeated.
Sluggish, rickety children assimilate lime badly, and often need Calcarea. When lime is needed there is a very decided tendency to a coarse, bony development, quite the opposite of the finer-grained type, which calls for Phosphorus or Silica and tends to develop toward a more elegant boyhood.
Phosphorous suits the little gentleman. The wings of the nose move nervously. This is a great sign for this remedy. He is mentally precocious, with a distinct leaning towards the tubercular cachexia; he needs fresh air, pleasant surroundings and congenial company.
Belladonna suits hot, red babies, with active capillaries, When the symptoms agree, the patients being dry, it is helpful in almost every kind of sickness. Nervous babies who jerk and cry out during sleep. Hot discharges. General erethism.
Mercurius calls for increased secretions Pendant lower lip, inclined to drool, or the tongue must at least be moist. There is increased glandular activity somewhere. This is almost imperative. In tonsillitis one or two doses of the yellow iodide are all that is needed in the vast majority of cases. Then we have the green or white stools, and many other indispensable symptoms.
Aethusa is a drug of great power. Limpness is the sign. The sufferer vomits great curds, then falls back limp and drowsy. Severe relaxation after every stool. Bad effects of milk. True cholera infantum. Compare Bismuth.
The Natrum Mur. infant has a sad, muddy look, and may sometimes be observed to limp alternatively first in one leg then in the other. If he sweats at all, it is more likely to be upon the nose about the edge of the hair. His diarrhoea is just as characteristically worse at 11 P.M. as his chill is apt to come about 11 A.M. We don’t like to leave him without pointing out his lean and poorly nourished appearance, with spells of craving for water or salt, and the occasional appearance of the classic cold sores about the lips. Only potentized table salt can cure him; one dose every few weeks, if given moderately high. Sometimes one dose nightly, if a potency as low as the sixtieth be imperative.