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A general dropsical condition of the body is described as anasarca, a term derived from Greek words meaning "through and flesh." Fluid may accumulate in the spaces between the cells which compose organs or tissues in and beneath the skin a condition described as oedema; or it may accumulate in serous cavities, the pleura, cavity of the chest, for example, and the peritoneal cavity of the abdomen. The latter condition is what is properly meant by dropsy, though this term is often applied to the accumulation of fluid in tissues.
Oedema, or the presence of fluid in the skin, is shown by the affected part becoming puffy and swollen, and by the possibility of producing pitting. This means that if the tip of a finger be pressed down on the skin a depression or pit is left, which takes some little time to come up. Pressure should be made, if possible, over a bone or tendon, especially when the swelling is very slight, as pitting is more easily brought out there should oedema be present. In the leg, the skin over the inner surface of the shin bone, the bony prominences at the sides of the ankle, or the Achilles tendon would suit the purpose.
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The diseases seen in are Bright's disease and commonly seen and in severe hookworm disease and in beri-beri, etc. Besides treatment directed to the cause of the anasarca, an attempt is made to remove as much fluid as possible from the body by inducing profuse sweating, or by increasing the flow of urine, or by producing watery motions from the bowels. The first may be achieved by hot baths or hot air baths, or by diaphoretic remedies (q.v.), the second by diuretics (q.v ) and the third by giving under medical supervision a powder compoaed of 3 grains of calomel with 40 grains of compound powder of jalap.
See Ascites: Bright's Disease: Dropsy; Oedema; etc.
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If firm pressure be made on the skin over one of the bony prominences of the ankle, the presence of oedema in the leg will be shown by a depression or pitting.
Left, the skin over the inner surface of the shin bone lies almost directly on the bone and firm pressure will produce pitting should oedema be present in the leg. Right oedema of the face, found by pressure on the skin over the bone forming the lower margin of the eye socket, is itsually more pronounced after a night's rest in be