What is in a name? Gastritis is inflammation or catarrh
of the stomach. When the inflammation is of the small bowels, it is called
enteritis, and when the inflammation is of the large bowels, it is called
Names confuse and are not important. A gastritis or
catarrh of the stomach in nursing children is caused by overfeeding to the
point of creating irritation of the mucous membrane. Irritation of the stomach,
once established, becomes the point of Toxemic Crisis. (See 'Toxemia
When a baby becomes enervated (see chapter on 'Causes
of Enervation' in 'Toxemia Explained'), elimination is checked,
causing Toxemia; and when the accumulation of toxin exceeds resistance,
vicarious elimination takes place at any point of the mucous membrane made
sensitive, as shown above, by indigestion or constipation.
A gastritis or catarrh of the stomach presents the
following symptom-complex: Before fever and vomiting begin, for a week or
longer, if the mother had been as observant as she should be, she would have
seen white specks in the bowel movements. This means that the food is not being
digested well because of overfeeding. This sign will vary from small white milk
curds throughout the evacuation, to an amount of milk curd representing
two-thirds or three-fourths of the evacuation. When the evacuation is gray and
of the consistency of putty, it is made up largely of undigested milk curd. The
odor is a mawkish sour, and, unless corrected, the trouble will end in acute
catarrh of the stomach, or small intestines, or large intestines, or possibly
all at the same time.
When the indigestion is confined to the stomach, the
child is restless, irritable, and feverish. There is vomiting--at first of
food, then of water and mucus, which may be slightly tinged with yellow. The
crisis will end very quickly if food and water are withheld. There being
thirst, mothers mistake it for hunger, and nourishment is given, which is a
great mistake; for under such circumstances nourishment, or even water, will be
rejected almost as soon as it is taken, causing more irritation, prolonging the
sickness much beyond the limit of such derangements when feeding and
water-drinking are stopped at the first indications of a sick stomach. Mothers
should understand that nursing their babes when they are sick is not a kindness.
Thirst may be relieved by enemas of warm water, which
should be given two or three times a day until the bowels are thoroughly
cleared out. By that time the stomach crisis should be about gone, if food has
been withheld, as should be done in all stomach and bowel derangements. Where
water is rejected, it must not be given until vomiting ceases entirely.
A routine that should not be neglected in any and all
sicknesses of babies or children of any age is keeping the feet and legs warm,
and a wet pack to the stomach and bowels, keeping the pack warm with an
electric pad or a hot-water bottle. Perfect quiet is necessary for a quick
Where the mucous membrane of the small and large bowels
takes on vicarious elimination there will be a diarrhea. When mucus is mixed
with the bowel movement, the small intestines are involved; where the mucus
comes separate or coats the fecal matter, the large bowels are involved.
But why all the hair-splitting in
so-called differential diagnosis? Suppose a clinical group has
demonstrated to a mathematical point that an inflammatory area exists
somewhere, anywhere, in the intestines--what is to be done about it?
Wherever located, it is nothing but an effect. This is
true of the catarrhal inflammation of any part of the intestinal tract of a
nursing baby. Special treatment is not to be compared to a treatment directed
to removing the cause.
Treatment for any of the so-called diseases of the
stomach and bowels: Give a fifteen-minute bath in a tub of water heated to 104
degrees F. Keep the child in bed, with heat to the feet and abdomen. If the
bowels are constipated, use a warm-water enema before giving the bath. Positively no food. Give all the water the child desires to
drink, if there is no nausea or vomiting. All excitement and noises must be
Aside from carrying out these instructions, let the
child alone, except to change its position. Sick babies and children are not to
be taken up on the lap. Overmuch handling is not good for well children, and
certainly is injurious to the sick. Rest and quiet, except to rub gently with
the open soft hand when the child is restless, and withholding food until all
discomfort--all symptoms of sickness--are gone, is an ideal, as well as a
scientific, treatment, and the quickest way to full recovery. The program for
the first day is to be repeated day after day until all symptoms have been
controlled. Then break the fast by allowing the child to nurse one minute, if
it has been in the habit of nursing five or six minutes; or feed its accustomed
food one-sixth of the usual amount every four hours. If all
goes well the first day of feeding, give two-sixths the second and three-sixths
the third day, gradually increasing to the toleration point. Whenever
there is the slightest indication of crowded digestion--such as crossness,
irritability, broken sleep, thirst, undigested food in the excrements--miss one
or more feeds; then give a little less food or less excitement.
A child develops daily a given amount of nerve-energy.
This nerve-energy may be used up by excitement. (See 'Causes of
Enervation' in 'Toxemia Explained.') Anything that uses up
nerve-energy weakens digestion. Then either the food must be cut down, or the
cause of enervation must be discovered and corrected. The weather may be warm,
yet the child's feet may be cold. No patient, young or old, will thrive if cold
feet and hands are habitual.
The temperature of the house should be about the same
day and night. The fresh-air fanaticism has slayed its thousands, while
so-called bad air may have killed hundreds. Warm, clean houses and beds are
much safer than open, airy, cold, dirty houses. Keep sick babies warm, clean,
Common-sense in the care of children is all that is
necessary to keep them well.