INFLAMMATION. The human body is subjected to numerous external injuries of varying degrees, which may cause disturbances in its normal functions. The system is constantly engaged in limiting the effects of such injuries and in restoring the natural conditions ; that is to say, in bringing about a cure. One of the processes which takes place in the body as a result of such injury is known by the term " inflammation." This process, which is concerned with eliminating the effects of the injury, tends to run a definite and characteristic course.
Among the various causes of inflammation may be mentioned blows, burns, irritations, and cold ; but especially the penetration of toxic bacteria. The body responds to the influence of the injury by sending an increased flow of blood to the part. Asa result of this increased supply of blood the vicinity of the injured area swells, and becomes tender and painful ; the skin reddens, and a sense of local heat is present ; in other words, an inflam mation has been produced. Inflammations due to toxic bacteria are the most frequent, and also the most dangerous, because these germs multiply in the body, and the process may spread to such an extent that death results. Inflammation really expresses the effort of the organism to overcome the cause of the trouble ; thus, in case of a bacterial invasion the intention is to destroy the bacteria. Inflammation usually results in the formation of pus.
If formed in small quantities, this pus may be absorbed by the system ; but where larger quantities collect, it results in the formation of abscesses.
Two types of inflammation are recognised : the acute form, which runs a very rapid course ; and the chronic form, which runs a more protracted course. To the former type belong all the painful inflammations marked by local redness and swelling, and accompanied by fever ; whereas the principal example of the latter form is the tuberculous inflammation. Medical treatment aims to support the system as the inflammation runs its course, and thus to favour healing. Whenever it is possible to do so, the cause must be removed, whereupon the body, and particularly the affected part, requires complete rest and protection. Nutrition should be stimulated by the administration of an easily-digestible, bland diet. Special remedial measures are indicated according to the variety of the inflammation and the organ involved ; but all these must be prescribed by the physician in every given case.