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3 Now how the treatment is succeeding, how much is to be either hoped or feared, can be learnt straightaway from signs which on the whole are the same as have been mentioned already for wounds. Good signs are: ready sleep, easy breathing, no harassing thirst, no aversion to food; for any feverishness to pass off; and for the pus to be white and uniform, not foul. Bad signs are: wakefulness, laboured breathing, thirst, aversion to food, fever, the pus dark or like wine lees, and foul. Again, bad signs in the course of the treatment are: haemorrhage, or if the margins become fleshy before the sinus has been filled up by flesh, and this flesh is insensitive and not firm. But the worst sign of all is a faint, whether during the dressing, or after it. Again there is some reason for anxiety when the illness suddenly subsides, and then suppuration breaks out; or if the illness persists after the pus[p. 307] has been let out. And one cause for anxiety is if the wound is insensible to corrosives. But while it is chance that makes the signs point now one way, now another, it is the practitioner's part to strive to bring about healing. Therefore whenever it is dressed, the abscess cavity should be washed out, with wine mixed with rain water or with a decoction of lentils, when the discharge seems to need checking; with honey wine when cleaning is required; after which it is dressed as before. When the discharge appears to be checked, and the cavity clean, then is the time to help the growth of flesh, both by irrigating with equal parts of wine and honey, and by laying on a sponge soaked in wine and rose oil. Although the growth of flesh is helped by these medicaments, this is better attained, as I have said elsewhere, by a careful regimen; this consists, after the cessation of the fever and a return of appetite, in an occasional bath, gentle rocking daily, food and drink suitable for making flesh. These prescriptions all apply to abscesses which have burst under medicaments; but they have been held over to this place because it is scarcely possible to cure a large abscess without using the knife.
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