Dysentery in children may be acute or chronic. The acute form is characterized by pain in the abdomen, diarrhoea and dysenteric motions. Yellowish white mucus and sometimes only blood from the intestinal ulcers is passed with stools. The evacuations are preceded by pain and tenesmus. The child feels a constant desire to evacuate his bowels, although there may be nothing to throw off except a little mucus and blood. There is a feeling of pain in the rectum and along the large intestine. With the advance of disease, the quantity of mucus and blood increases.
Occasionally, casts or shreds of skin-like mucous membrane, from small fragments to 12 inches or so, long and an inch wide, are seen to pass out with motions. Sometimes pus is also thrown out with motion and often the small of the stools becomes very foetid. All the digestive processes are upset and secretions are changed or stopped.
Chronic cases are after-effects of acute attacks. The child does not recover completely. Stool remains putrid and may contain blood, while diarrhoea and constipation may alternate, and general health is disturbed. In severe cases, the temperature may rise to 1040 to 1050F. It may occasionally become subnormal also.
The treatment of dysentery should aim at removing the off ending and toxic matter from the intestines and for alleviating painful symptoms, stopping the virulence of the bacteria and promoting healing of the ulcer. The child-patient should be kept on liquid diet for the first 24 hours. The use of buttermilk will be especially beneficial as it combats offending bacteria and helps establishment of helpful micro-organisms in the intestines.
The child may be given about 15 to 20 ml. of castor oil with milk. This will facilitate quicker removal of offensive matter, minimize the strain during motion and also act as a complete bed rest as movement induces pain and aggravates distressing symptoms. Hot water bags may be applied over the abdomen.
After acute symptoms are over, the child may eat rice, curd, fresh ripe fruits, especially bael, banana and pomegranate and skimmed milk. Solid foods should be introduced very carefully and gradually according to the pace of recovery. Fresh fruits and vegetable salads, which have a detoxifying and cleansing effect upon the intestines, should form the major portion of the future diet. Flesh foods of all kinds should be avoided in future as far as possible. Other foods which should be avoided are tea, coffee, white sugar, white flour and products made from them.
Among specific food remedies, bael fruit is, perhaps, the most efficacious in the treatment of dysentery of both the varieties. A drink can be made from this fruit by mixing 30 grams of the pulp in 60 ml. of water. This drink should be administered to the children in doses of two teaspoons thrice daily. In acute cases of dysentery with inflammation of mucous membrane, best results can be obtained when dried bael or its powder is used. The unripe or half ripe fruit should be sliced and dried in the sun. These slices may be powdered and preserved in bottles. This powder may be administered in one gram dosage to the child twice daily.
The use of pomegranate (anar) rind is another effective remedy for dysentery. About 60 grams of the rind should be boiled in 250 ml. of milk. It should be removed from the fire when one third of the milk has evaporated. It should be administered to the patient in three equal doses at suitable intervals.
Lemon juice is very effective in dealing with ordinary cases of dysentery. Two medium sized lemons, peeled and sliced, should be added to 250 ml. of water and boiled for a few minutes. The strained infusion should be administered thrice daily.
Mashed banana together with little salt is a very valuable remedy for dysentery. According to Dr. Kirtikar, a combination of ripe plantain, tamarind and common salt is most effective in treating dysentery. He claims to have cured several cases of both acute and chronic dysentery by this treatment. When children have dysentery, ripe bananas mashed and beaten to cream must be used.
Apple is also considered beneficial in the treatment of acute and chronic dysentery in children. Ripe and sweet apples should be turned into soft pulp by steaming and given to the child several times a day, for one to four tablespoons, according to the child’s age. The American Medical Association has also advocated the use of apples as therapeutic agent in dysentery.
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