BED-WETTING IS A LIGHT FORM OF NEUROSIS IN CHILDREN
Neurosis, the foundation of neurotic diseases--convulsions, paralysis, incorrigibility, delinquencies, and the petty nervous diseases that will be referred to--is an inborn potential requiring only slight encouragement from wrong habits of eating and mismanagement to be thrown on the cinema of life. For example, the hoarding attributes of the so-called successful business man are often thrown on the screen of his children's lives as kleptomania, forgery, and check-raising. The children of staid, exemplary pillars of the church are often nymphomaniacs and libertines--potentials passed on from lust and lasciviousness.
Infantile paralysis comes to children begotten of venereally enervated parents. Something cannot come from nothing. There is no accident or chance to account for the neuroticisms of children. Let us hope that some day the cause of neurosis in children will be removed by prospective parents taking a rest cure before marriage--not only resting, but learning how to live to restore and build virility.
The long step now being taken toward the nude, leaving little to the imagination, will be followed in the next generation by a preponderance of neurotic disease in children. Then will come a sterile generation, which will be supplanted by the children of people who have been lying fallow and have been statically restored. Impotency and the nervous derangements peculiar to sex-neurosis must follow the present pandemic of erotomania. The present overt mania may not be worse than the past covert mania--indeed, it may be educational. The evils of the latter had no cause except as a deluded professor declared that they came from a universal syphilitic taint. This teaching afforded an apology for unpleasant responsibilities; but the children following the overt mania of today can point to their parents and say: "You cursed me before birth."
Neurotic or nervous children are inclined to the bed-wetting habit when enervated, toxemic and suffering from digestive derangements. The exciting cause is any enervating influence: overeating; eating stimulating food; drinking coffee or tea; excessive drinking of milk or water; too much salt, sugar, or sweets of all kinds; the excessive use of butter, gravies, meat, eggs, cake, and pastries; the pernicious habit of frequent eating to overcome so-called underweight.
Fear is one of the greatest nerve depressants to which children are subject. Parents often rule by fear instead of by love and reason. Scolding, picking, fault-finding, and punishing by parents often ruin children's health. A chronic shrew can keep a home atmosphere so miasmatic that health for all who live in it takes wings and flies away. Children are scarcely over one sickness until they are in another; and, if they are troubled with sensitive neurotic bladders, bed-wetting will be of nightly occurrence. If the neurosis is of the stomach, gastric attacks will be frequent. Then, if treated and nursed badly, an eruptive fever may develop. If the throat is the neurotic center, feeding, medicating, and foolish nursing may end in diphtheria.
Neurotic children suffer much from their school life. Their fear of not pleasing the teacher is a constant drain on their nerve-energy. Imperfect lessons are often enough to cause indigestion. Failure at school and criticism at home are enough to cause indigestion and fever. Fear of bed-wetting, the displeasure of parents, and the punishment often given them are enervating and become a cause that continues the habit.
Treatment.--The first thing to do is to get rid of fear by assuring the child that bed-wetting is a nervous disease, over which it has no control except as it cultivates a willingness to learn how to live to get well. Parents must prove to children their sympathy and friendship, instead of being displeased and finding fault with them for a weakness which they cannot help. They should condole, and assure them that they will help them in every way they can to overcome their embarrassing weakness. They must explain to the little folks that this weakness is made worse by playing too hard and too long; that they must be moderate, and avoid becoming excited, shouting, and angry in play; that, until they can have a dry bed, they must go to bed early, and be willing to give up all their habits that help to build bladder weakness--such as candy-eating, gum-chewing, ice-cream, cake, fountain-drinking, all eating between meals, and all rich foods, until in full health; and that then they must live in a manner that will make them stay well. The right kind of parents will practice a reasonable amount of abstemiousness. Children learn from example more than from precept; and it is the sensuality practiced by parents before and after children are conceived that sets children's nerves on edge.
Children are easier to control in eating than grown people, when the evil of wrong eating is explained to them. If possible to begin treatment by giving a week or two of rest in bed, the rest should be taken. The first few days no food should be given. A good plan is to stop food until a night is passed without bed-wetting. This has a fine psychological influence on the child--it gives encouragement that a cure will be made. Then give fruit for breakfast--orange, apple, or other fresh fruit in like proportions. At noon, a combination salad (lettuce, two parts; tomato and celery, of each one part). At night, a baked apple or a dish of prunes--no dressing.
Second week: One slice of whole-wheat bread (dried out in the oven), with unsalted butter. The toast must be eaten dry, and mastication must be thorough. Then follow with fruit. At noon, a vegetable salad, and a teacupful of vegetable soup (see "Cook Book"). In the evening a slice of toasted whole-wheat bread followed with baked apple. Continue this light eating until the habit is fully controlled; then give fruit for breakfast--any fresh fruit--and follow with a glass or two of whole milk, sipping slowly. For dinner at noon, any coarse bread toasted, with unsalted butter. The bread should be eaten first, thoroughly masticating every bite; then follow with salad and baked apple for dessert. For supper, toasted bread, followed with vegetable soup. If noon time is limited, reverse, giving dinner at night and supper at noon.
If all is going well at the end of a month, select meals from the "Cook Book."
CHOREA--ST. VITUS DANCE
A nervous twitching of the muscles of the arms, sometimes of the legs and sometimes of both, including a jerking of the head. Before the disease has developed into its severe form there is a period of warning, running over from six months to a year. The parents will notice that the child is very nervous, restless, and hard to keep still. The child is quite excitable. Many times it will be very irritable, and easily thrown into tears by a slight reprimand. There may be such symptoms as frequent urination. A quite young child may wet the bed frequently at night.
When chorea proper starts, the child loses control over its hands--will drop dishes, playthings, or books. At first the parents may think it is carelessness, and scold the child or mildly punish it for being so careless. But the symptoms become worse. A physician is consulted; and then the parents learn for the first time that the cause of the child's nervousness is functional paralysis.
In severe cases the child cannot stand and cannot walk without someone being near to take hold of its hand or arm. Indeed, two people may be required in attempting to help the child to walk. When children get in this state, they have no inclination to walk.
Only children of neurotic temperament develop chorea. When such children are allowed to eat at any time, have no regular time for feeding, and are permitted to eat any and all kinds of foods, taking milk and bread, or mixing protein and starch, eating rich cooking--custards, pies, cakes, cookies, etc.--they bring on such a state of deranged digestion that they develop such diseases. Fear of parents and teachers aggravates the disease. Fear and improper feeding enervate, and are the principal causes.
Many children will cultivate the drinking habit--drinking frequently between meals. Every drink taken between meals, or while digestion is on, checks digestion, will bring on acute indigestion, and hasten the development of such diseases as chorea, petit mat, and epilepsy.
Treatment.--Such children, when they have developed a state of chorea, should be put to bed, and kept there until all shaking and twitching of the muscles have entirely disappeared. Eating must be very light. A glass of milk in the morning; orange juice and water, or a little fresh fruit, at noon; and in the evening a pear and a few grapes, with milk. The child will improve very much faster if it can be persuaded to go without food for a week, and then given the food as suggested above. As the muscle-twitching disappears, the feeding may be increased.
Such a patient should have a daily warm sponge-bath, followed with gentle rubbing. It should have abdominal massage daily, and the massaging should be more over the stomach, just beneath the ribs and breast-bone. The entire abdomen needs rubbing, but the region of the stomach needs more attention than the rest.
If the bowels are constipated, a small enema of warm water may be used to secure a movement about every other day.
The child should be kept as quiet as possible. Playmates should be excluded from the bedroom entirely. There must not be any excitement whatsoever. The parents should be gentle and firm, and avoid exciting the child by scolding. This is not the time for punishing a child for peevishness. Many of these children are quite impatient and irritable and want to dominate everybody. This must be overlooked, and at the same time parents must be firm, not allowing such children to be out of bed nor to have company. Picture-books for entertaining can be allowed, or such reading as the child may desire. Where children are kept very quiet and continuously in bed, with a very light diet, the disease will be controlled in a very reasonable time from two to four weeks.
Prickly heat, or miliaria, is an inflammatory skin derangement affecting the sweat-glands.
Symptoms.--Prickling, stinging, and itching of the skin. Hot weather has but little to do with it. Neglect of the care of the skin allows the pores to close, and when the weather becomes warm there is usually more thirst than in cool weather. Drinking raises the blood-pressure, favoring perspiration; and when perspiration cannot pass through the pores of the surface, it produces irritation through a filling-up of the sweat-glands, causing pressure on nerve filaments. This brings on a stinging, prickling, and itching. Those who have deranged digestion--those troubled with gastro-intestinal catarrh--create an acute irritation of the stomach from ice-cream, excessive fruit-eating, etc. This irritation is reflected to the surface of the body, and produces abnormal contraction of the sweat-glands.
I have noticed in these cases that there is always a good deal of nervousness, the function of the skin is interfered with, and anything that creates an extra amount of heat at the surface will cause itching, prickling, and burning. The patient feels very uncomfortable.
Prickly heat in children indicates that the child is overfed; and the same is true of grown people. We never have any skin derangements whatever unless there is chronic gastro-intestinal catarrh. Long-continued heat, as in summer time, further enervates the enervated, weakening the power of digestion, and turning loose morbid functional derangements in keeping with predispositions. Add to this imprudent eating an excessive amount of fruit, ice-cream, or iced drinks, or an excessive amount of food of any kind, and in the nervous, neurotic, or gouty subjects various kinds of skin irritations will result. If the irritations are of the mucous membrane, intestinal derangements appear. I look upon prickly heat as a decidedly nervous derangement.
Treatment.--A fast of one, two, or three days, with daily bathing in water as hot as can be borne, will bring relief sooner than any other treatment. Bathing the surface with lotions, ointments, or the usual palliative surface treatment is neither logical nor sensible. The pores should be kept open, instead of being filled up with salves or forced to contract by so-called soothing lotions. The bath opens the pores, and the fast relieves the irritations of the stomach and bowels. It does not require a very great deal of time to bring full relief. If palliation is all that is desired, this treatment can end as all palliative treatment ends, and with the priests of healing flattering themselves that they have performed a cure. But this so-called disease points to a constitutional derangement that should be looked after; for it may manifest itself in various ways when the weather becomes cool. Bronchial irritation or pneumonia may be the price paid for neglect of correction of the constitutional derangement.
The reader must not forget that enervation, checked elimination, with retention of toxins in the blood, is the basic cause of all the ills that man is heir to; hence it is necessary, when eating is begun after relief is secured, to feed very lightly and very plain food.
The child can have a glass of milk for breakfast, and a salad at noon. If he is too young to masticate the salad well, it should be run through the vegetable mill. A teacup of the ground salad will make the noon meal, and prunes or baked apples, with cream dressing, the evening meal. As the child improves, he can be given toasted bread, with a little unsalted butter, for breakfast, followed with a half-dozen prunes, dressed with a little cream. If not satisfied, follow with a cup of hot water, a little cream, and a lump of sugar. At noon, have a slice of whole-wheat bread, toasted, the same as for breakfast, followed with ground salad. In the evening, prunes or baked apples, or any fresh fruit, followed with milk. After this, feed according to the instructions found elsewhere.
OR SPOTTED FEVER
Cerebro-spinal meningitis is not a very common disease. In years gone by (fifty or sixty), when man's eating was far more irrational and environments more crude than they are today, we had visitations of this dread disease. It is an inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord. Where the inflammation is confined to the membranes of the brain it is called meningitis, and where it is confined to the membranes of the spinal cord it is called spinal meningitis. When both are involved, the two names are linked together and it is called cerebro-spinal meningitis. It is not a disease for families to undertake to treat without the advice of physicians.
There is not very much that can be done except giving hot baths every three hours until the temperature is reduced below 101 degrees F. Then the baths may be given morning and night until the temperature is normal.
Children suffering from this disease have no hunger, and should not be fed. The bowels should be cleaned out with enemas. Equalize the circulation by keeping the feet warm and the head cool. A very great deal could be said about this disease, but it is superfluous and unnecessary in a book of this kind. Public health laws require a death certificate, even if medical treatment is not as successful as no treatment at all. It takes understanding to do nothing well.
A LIGHT FORM OF EPILEPSY
Petit Mal is a slight epilepsy, characterized by momentary loss of consciousness. Sometimes the child will be standing on its feet, and drop heavily to the floor as if sitting down. The jolt is so severe that it will cry. The loss of consciousness is just of long enough duration to cause the child to lose control of its muscles. As soon as the wave has passed, the child will sit down suddenly. It may look up and stare. It may be looking at a picture-book with other children, and have a startled look that lasts momentarily. It means a loss of consciousness. The child may ask for a drink, and, as it takes the cup into its hand, if a spasm develops, the cup may drop out of its hand. These seizures may come frequently--two or three to a dozen times a day, often as high as twenty. It has been my experience that they have a tendency to grow worse, unless controlled. By "growing worse" I mean that the unconsciousness lasts longer. There will be a twitching of the muscles, showing that the disease is about to change from the Petit Mal type to Grand Mal, or real convulsions, or the convulsive type.
Cause.--The cause of all cases that have ever come under my observation is indigestion; and this is brought on from imprudence in feeding the child. Some children are very nervous, play too hard, use up their nerve-energy, and become enervated. This prevents perfect digestion. Then, if fed wrongfully, irritation of the stomach and bowels will be set up, causing reflex irritation of the brain, or cerebro-spinal centers.
Treatment.--Keep the child in bed for a month or longer, if necessary. Fast as long as possible, and then feed very lightly. No starch or meat is to be given. Use fruit, vegetables, and milk. Have milk in the morning, following a little fruit, such as prunes, apple-sauce, baked apple, or any of the fresh, raw fruits. At noon, have a glass of milk. In the evening feed a cup of vegetable soup, made according to the "Cook Book."
The child should be bathed with tepid water once a day, and this is to be followed with dry towel-rubbing.
The bowels should be looked after. If necessary, a small enema should be given each night and morning until the bowels are cleared out. Then, until the child is very much better, and able to be up and eat more, use the enema every other night.
When the convulsions cease, feed according to the instructions in keeping with the child's age.
SEBORRHEA--A SCALP DISEASE OF
A brownish-gray scale that develops on the heads of babies whose mothers are afraid they will hurt them by a too vigorous use of the washcloth. The disease is due to lack of cleanliness. If baby's head is kept clean from birth, the skin secretions will not dry and form into an unsightly scale on the head.
Treatment.--When the dry scale has formed white Vaseline be used, after the scalp has been thoroughly washed, using any mild soap and soft water. For every use, from birth to deaths I know of no better soap than Ivory. Most toilet soaps are irritating and have little to recommend them except smell; and there are odors that make children irritable. Irritation or overstimulation of the olfactory (smell) nerves produces enervation--the first step on the way to developing illhealth.
Keep baby clean and free from all odors, agreeable and disagreeable. Perfume often covers an odor of warning, and too often camouflages the "great unwashed."
Keep the baby clean inside and out by watching the bowel movements. When curds appear in the bowel movement, reduce the amount of milk until digestion is perfect. A disagreeable odor from the bowel movements means too much food; cut it down. Keep baby free from signs of overfeeding, and then you can say to calamity-mongers and peddlers of cod-liver oil: "My baby will not develop any disease no, not rickets."
Rickets come from feeding beyond the digestive power, and curds in the stools, bad odors, and scales on the scalp are warnings.
Eczema comes under the head of neurosis. It is a neurotic so-called disease. In other words, children develop this peculiar form of skin derangement when they are enervated, toxemic, and infected from decomposition of food in the bowels. A child might develop petit mal, chorea, or some other so-called nervous disease, if the reflex irritation had not been sent to the surface of the body. When laymen get enough information so that they can think in the language of the unity of diseases, they will not be scanning almanacs and billboards, and going to all kinds of specialists, to find a cure or buy an operation for all so-called special or specific diseases.
Symptoms.--At the start there is a little redness and roughness of a small spot on the skin. This gradually spreads larger. Where the constitutional derangement continues to increase in severity, other spots appear. These spots spread, and become somewhat thickened. By that I mean that the roughness is elevated above the surface of the skin. In pronounced types, the surface of the eczematous spots is moist; then it is called weeping eczema. This means that there is a little more irritation that nature is throwing out, or that she is eliminating toxin more rapidly than in what is known as the dry variety of eczema.
Treatment.--Conventional, orthodox treatment is with lotions and salves. Where salves of various description are used--salves that are prescribed for curing the disease--some will create more irritation than others. Not any are curative--with no apologies to the profession or to Cuticura. Where they produce quite a little irritation, the disease is spread more rapidly than it otherwise would be. But curing eczema in this way is very much on the order of rubbing salve on the end of a dog's tail for a sore ear. Local treatment is absurd, unless palliation is the sole ambition.
The child's diet must be corrected. Stop forever feeding starch and protein in the same meal. Where bathing is neglected, it should be properly attended. Bathing in eczema is not considered good from standpoint of scientific prescribing. A warm tub-bath three times a week should be given, using a very mild soap. Then follow with a thorough rinsing in warm water. This is to be followed with dry towel-rubbing. Where there are no eczematous spots, the rubbing should be brisk. The days that the child is not to have the tub-bath it should be given a warm sponge-bath, allowing it to stand in warm water and sponging it off quickly; then follow with dry towel-rubbing. After the bath and drying with a soft towel, use a little olive oil or Vaseline; then dust with talcum.
If the child's tongue is coated, its breath bad, its stomach distended with gas, and it grinds its teeth at night, or is restless and continually kicking the covers off, it should be put to bed for a week or two. A fast of two or three days' duration should be given. If that is impossible, give a glass of milk and water--half warm milk and half hot water. Have the child sip it slowly. A glassful should be given three times a day. After the third day begin the fourth by giving a little fruit in the morning. At noon, feed a slice of whole-wheat bread, stale or dried out or toasted. The bread is to be eaten with a very little butter. This is to be eaten dry. The child gets nothing else until it has finished eating the bread. Then follow the bread with a pear, or a few grapes, or orange juice half water. In the evening, give a dish of prunes and a glass of whole milk. This amount of feeding should not be increased until the eczema has disappeared. Just what kind of gastro-intestinal derangement has been set up to cause the eczema cannot be anticipated, and neither can the intensity of the constitutional derangement be taken into consideration in preparing an article like this. To get good results, the fast should be for three days or longer, if the breath is bad and there should be nausea. A fast often causes sick stomach in those who are very toxemic. A hot, wet pack over the stomach gives relief.
If, however, the tongue remains coated, the child at the end of the third day's fast has a bad breath, and nature has started up a decided elimination, it would be wise not to feed for three days more. Give nature an opportunity to eliminate the toxins in the system. Nature can be depended upon to do this, unless there is foolish fear on the part of the parents lest the child will starve to death. There is no danger of its starving so long as nature is cleaning house, evidenced by bad odor from the breath and body.
The bowels should be moved by an enema every night for three consecutive nights. After that, the bowels should be left alone, except for giving a small enema--a half-pint, or not to exceed a pint, of warm water every other day.
Hives is caused by irritation of the stomach brought on from eating too frequently and eating an excess of starch in connection with milk. Only those with catarrh of the stomach are troubled with hives; then fish, fruit, honey, or other foods may precipitate an attack. A fast of one or two days is usually quite enough to correct the hives; but it will return if the child's subsequent feeding is imprudent. Where the hives is severe, the child should be put to bed and fasted twenty-four or forty-eight hours and then given fifty-fifty in the morning, ground-up vegetable salad at noon, and a dish of prunes and fifty-fifty in the evening. When the hives has passed away, feed according to instructions for children of its age.
Hernia in children is not difficult of management. If a well-fiitting truss is adjusted and looked after carefully to keep it in place, the tendency in all cases is to recover. Where the hernia is not very large, the tendency is for it to get well without a truss. Children troubled in this way should be fed very carefully--certainly they should not be overfed; and where there is distention of the bowels from gas, overfeeding must be avoided. Certainly milk and bread should never be given in the same meal, because, when starch and protein are eaten together, there is always a tendency to develop gas in the bowels, and gas distention produces so much intra-abdominal pressure that the hernia is forced out and kept in this state. As soon as the gas pressure has been overcome by limiting the eating to digestive needs, the hernial protrusion will return through the opening, and give nature an opportunity to close the so-called rupture. As a matter of fact, a hernia is not a rupture--it is a forced enlargement of a natural opening. It should be understood that there is no rupture it is only a forced separation of the muscular tissue that guards the hernial ring. Rubbing or kneading gently the muscles over the location of the hernia strengthens them, and there is a tendency to overcome the laxity or weakness of the guarding muscles.