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Eclampsia

eggs, egg, stomach, yolk, sometimes, food, albumin, white and children

ECLAMPSIA, INFANTILE.—.A nervous affection of infants, charac terised by convulsions. This symptom, which may appear in milder or severer forms, is never a disease of itself, but is always a result of other affections. The most common causes are : beginning measles, diphtheria, scarlatina, meningitis, catarrh of the stomach or intestine, cholera morbus (most important), constipation, inflammation of the lungs, purulent inflam mation of the ears, and intestinal worms. The milk of an intoxicated wet nurse has been known to give rise to convulsions resembling eclampsia. It is highly doubtful if mental excitement or anger on the part of the wet-nurse may be regarded as possible causes of the condition. In the majority of cases the symptom occurs in children afflicted with RICKETS (which see), especially when the bones of the skull are involved. It is incorrect to ascribe the appearance of convulsions to teething.

In the milder forms, which occur usually in children less than a year old, the children sleep with the eyelids half open, showing the eyeball turned upward. Slight twitchings of the muscles of the face occur, creating the impression that the child is smiling. It sometimes happens that the limbs convulse slightly ; that the hands are clenched with the thumbs under the fingers ; and that breathing is irregular, alternately deep and super ficial, slow and quick. This condition is popularly known as " silent spasms." The severer form, which often closely resembles an epileptic convulsion, comes on suddenly, as a rule. Sometimes, however, it occurs in connection with the " silent spasms " previously described, quite independent of whether the child is asleep or awake. Infants become unconscious and cry aloud ; older children grind the teeth, stare, squint, or roll the eyes, toss the head back, and throw the body backward. The limbs are alternately drawn in and thrust out, or are held spasmodically rigid or twisted. The lower jaw is sometimes opened and closed with a snap ; respiration is suspended ; the face turns blue ; foam appears at the mouth ; and gas, excrements, or urine may be passed involuntarily. Sometimes death occurs during the attack. The duration of the convulsions varies ; they usually last only for a few seconds, but often for several minutes. Eclampsia may come on in single attacks, or it may recur. After the attack the child is weak, listless, and generally sleeps for hours.

During the attack it is necessary that all bands and constricting dresses he loosened, and that respiration be stimulated by dashing cold water on the face or chest of the patient. The thumbs may be left clenched under the fingers, but the child should be guarded against injuries. Until the arrival of the physician, who should be summoned at once, attempts may be made to arrest the spasms by a warm bath (95° to F.), or by an enema consisting of pint of vinegar and pint of hot water. Hot foot-baths are sometimes of service.

ECLECTICISM.—See MEDICINE, HISTORY

ECZEMA.—See SKIN, DISEASES OF.

EGG.—An article of diet which consists of the germ and food-yolk extruded from the ovary of a bird, usually of the domestic hen, and which is enclosed in a calcareous shell. It is a common practice to stir up the yolk of an egg with the soup intended for a sick person, while the white is reserved for other purposes. This is a great mistake, for although the nutritive value of the yolk is considerable, this depends largely on the fat present ; while the amount of albumin contained in the yolk, compared with that in the white, is in the proportion of 15 to 25. The white, however, does not consist solely of albumin, this being present only to the extent of 13 per cent., while water constitutes another per cent. On an average, 5o grammes of eggs is the food equivalent of about 4o grammes of meat and not quite A of a quart of milk, so that a pound of meat is cheaper than a like quantity of eggs, leaving aside the fact that the salts contained in meat largely increase its food value. The value of eggs as food must neither he overrated nor underrated. Their wide employment is extremely essential, for they may be incorporated with numerous dishes, not only increasing their food value, but also their palatability.

It is important to know that fresh eggs are moderately transparent, and that this transparency disappears as their age increases. Moreover, if placed in a 5 to io per cent. solution of salt, old eggs sink to the bottom of the vessel. These tests are well enough for the gourmet, but the practical housewife will find the same nutritive values in eggs which have been preserved by artificial means, provided no decay has taken place ; and the variations in transparency and weight which accompany increasing age are merely due to the loss of water through the more or less pervious shell. In all cases where it is intended to add strength and nourishment to a dish, the entire egg should be used, and not the yolk only. Stirring an egg in soup is the most effective way of giving this food ; while the most unsatisfactory is to allow the patient to drink a raw egg, for in this instance the albumin is coagulated in the stomach in lumps, of which only the outer surface is attacked by the gastric juice, while the interior may remain undigested and be wasted. Boiled eggs are therefore to be preferred to raw eggs, and those in which the white is coagulated and the yolk still somewhat fluid are easiest to digest. But even the hard-boiled egg will not " lie like a stone in the stomach " if the precaution be taken to masticate it thoroughly. Lack of attention to this point will impair the digestibility even of the soft-boiled egg, the point being to prevent the albumin from reaching the stomach in large masses. A hard-boiled egg may be digested readily and without difficulty by ,even a weak stomach, and the nourishment thoroughly used up by the body. ,