CORROSIVE sunumATE. This substance, given in a dose of the eighth part of a grain, acts as a general stimulus on the alimentary canal and the secretions. Sometimes there is a sense of heat and pain in the stomach. If the dose is larger, or long continued, it produces colics and vomitings, with salivation and ulcerations of the mouth and tongue. This is followed by loss of the teeth and affections of the bones in these parts; and, besides these effects, there oc cur cardialgia, dyspepsia, dysentery, dyspncea, kemopty sis, and violent pains in the hones and muscles, or in the joints, with trembling, palsy, tetanus, mania, and death. The quicksilver, in these cases, is sometimes deposited in a metallic form in many cavities. If given in an extreme dose, it produces death quickly ; and, in this case, physi cians are not agreed respecting the mode in which it ope rates on the functions. We need not recite their various opinions.
This substance has been known to produce death also on several occasions when used externally, as an ointment to the entire skin, or as a plaster, or as a dressing for ul cers. The symptoms are nearly the same; salivation sometimes, or, without that, the usual affections of the stomach, and convulsions.
To discover if a patient has taken this poison, as it is always necessary, if possible, to ascertain the cause of the injury first, either the remains of the substance taken, or the matter vomited, if these cannot be procured, must be examined by the usual chemical tests. After death, the same investigation required for judicial purposes must be made of the contents of the stomach. For the detail of these, and all others of the same nature hereafter mention ed, we must refer to the history of the several substances under the title CHEMISTRY.
Treatment of the patient. The remarks to be made here on chemical antidotes to this poison, are of general application to all the mineral poisons. A substance, to be an antidote, should possess the following properties : It ought to admit of being taken in large doses without danger.
It ought to act on the poison at the animal temperature, or at one inferior to that.
Its action ought to be speedy.
It should be capable of combining with, or decompos ing the poison, in spite of the mucus or other secretions in which it may be entangled.
Lastly, it ought to deprive the poisonous substance of all its deleterious qualities.
Experiments made on animals have proved that the al kalies, the sulphuretted alkalies, and sulphuretted hydro gen, did not prevent the poisonous effects of this sub stance. Sugar, bark, and metallic mercury, have been recommended, but they produce no effect. Albumen de composes corrosive sublimate, so as to produce an innoxious compound, and, when given in sufficient quantity, has suc ceeded as an antidote.
The practice therefore recommended is, to give large quantities of the white of egg mixed with water, as it may be given to any extent. If this cannot be obtained, lin seed tea, rice water, sugar and water, broth, or even plain water, may be given. This practice also encourages vo miting, and must be continued till the symptoms abate. In case that vomiting cannot be excited, it is recommended to empty the stomach by means of an elastic bottle and tube passed into it. The more fluid of any kind that can be given, the better; and, in many cases, this has proved sufficient for tile cure. They should be forced down, therefore, whether the patient is willing to drink or not.
Oily substances, often had recourse to, are useless, and may be injurious, by impeding the action of other sub stances. The remainder of the treatment must resemble that adopted in gastritis, or enteritis ; local bleeding, fo mentation, emollient injections, general blood-letting, the warm bath, and in general, the antiphlogistic systerti.