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2 Having made a sort of survey as it were of these organs, so far as it is necessary for a practitioner to know them, I shall follow out the remedies for the several parts when diseased, starting with the head; under that term I now mean that part which is covered with hair; for pain in the eyes, ears and teeth and the like will be elsewhere explained (VI.6‑9, VII.7‑12). In the head, then, there is at times an acute and dangerous disease, which the Greeks call cephalaia; the signs of which are hot shivering, paralysis of sinews, blurred vision, alienation of the mind, vomiting, so that the voice is suppressed, or bleeding from the nose, so that the body becomes cold, vitality fails. In addition there is intolerable pain, especially in the region of the temples and back of the head. Again, there is sometimes a chronic weakness in the head, which, although neither severe nor dangerous, lasts through life; sometimes there is more severe pain, but of short duration, and not fatal, which is brought about[p. 365] by wine or indigestion or cold or heat or the sun. And all these pains occur, sometimes with fever, sometimes without fever; sometimes they affect the whole head, sometimes a part only; at times so as to cause excruciating pain also in the adjacent part of the face. Besides the foregoing there is a class which may become chronic, in which a humour inflates the scalp, so that it swells up and yields to the pressure of the fingers. The Greeks call it hydrocephalus. Of these forms, that mentioned second, while it is slight, is to be treated by the regimen I have stated when I was describing what healthy men should do in the case of weakness of any part (I.4). For pain in the head accompanied by fever the remedies have been detailed when describing the treatment of fevers in general (III.3‑17). Now to speak of the rest. Of these the case that is acute, also that which surpasses ordinary limits, and that which is of sudden causation and although not deadly, is yet violent, has its primary remedy in blood-letting. But this measure is unnecessary, unless the pain is intolerable, and it is better to abstain from food; also from drink, when possible; if not possible, then to drink water. If, on the day following, pain persists, the bowels should be clystered, sneezing provoked, and nothing but water taken. For often, in this way, all the pain is dispersed within one or two days, especially if it has originated from wine of indigestion. But if there is little benefit from the above, the head should be shaved down to the scalp; then it should be considered what cause excited the pain. If the cause was hot weather, it is well to pour cold water freely over the head, to put on the [p. 367] head a concave sponge now and again wrung out of cold water; to anoint the head with rose oil and vinegar, or better to put on unscoured wool saturated with the same, or else other refrigerant plasters. But if cold has done the harm, the head should be bathed with warm sea-water, or at any rate salt and water, or with a laurel-leaf decoction, after which the head should be rubbed smartly, have warm oil poured on it, and then be covered up. Some even bandage up the head, some load it with neck-wraps and mufflers, and so get relief; warm plasters give help in other cases. Hence, even when the cause is unknown, it should be observed whether cooling or heating methods afford the more relief, and to make use of those which experience has approved. But if the cause is not known, the head should be bathed, first in warm water as noted above, or in salt and water, or in the laurel decoction, next in cold vinegar and water. For all long-standing pain in the head, the following are the general measures: to provoke sneezing; to rub the legs smartly; to gargle things which provoke salivation; to apply cups to the temples and occiput; to draw blood from the nostrils; to pluck upon the skin of the temples frequently by the aid of pitch plasters; to apply mustard in order to cause ulcers over the site of the pain, after having put a layer of linen over the skin to prevent violent erosion; to excite ulcerations by cautery, applied over the seat of the pain; to take food in great moderation, with water; after the pain has been relieved, to go to the bath, and there to have much water poured over the head, first hot, then cold; if the pain has been quite dispersed, the patient may even return to wine, but should always before anything else drink some water.[p. 369] The class in which humour collects upon the head is different. In that case it is necessary to shave the head to the scalp; then to apply mustard until it causes ulcers; if this is of little avail, recourse must be had to the scalpel. The following measures are the same as for dropsical patients: exercise, sweating, smart rubbing, and such food and drink as will specially promote urination.
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