The Indications for Digitalis in Pneumonia.

Botanical name: 


In the treatment of pneumonia, in the early stages, it is my custom to prescribe specifically in accordance with the indications found, as taught by most of our writers. This method does not usually find a place for digitalis in the early stage of the disease. I think I have found a specific indication for digitalis in the later stages.

I have treated fifty-seven cases in the Williamsport Hospital that were apparently in the last stage of the disease, where the breathing was very rapid and short, where the pulse was so rapid that it could not be counted, where the respiratory distress was very pronounced, and where the skin, especially that of the face and neck, was distinctly cyanosed. The skin was cold, and often there was a cold perspiration. I gave these a concentrated tincture of digitalis, with the very best of results, upon the above indications. To adults I have given fifteen drops every two hours, to children I have given ten drops every two hours, and have seen no toxic or cumulative influence. Fifty-five out of the above fifty-seven cases recovered.

When the above symptoms are present there seems to be an influence exercised by this remedy which is devoid of any toxic effect, and covers the entire train of symptoms. I believe it is less toxic even in children than in adults. It should be given persistently and with confidence at this time.

COMMENT:—I have frequently seen excellent results from digitalis in pneumonia of infants, where, after a time, in which the disease seemed to progress favorably with specific treatment, there was a relapse and prostration was very great, with many of the above symptoms. I believe the doctor's suggestions as above should receive thoughtful attention. He has proven them to be most excellent, and others should use this remedy for these indications. I am inclined to think further, however, that if digitalis is used from the start in full doses when it was not specifically indicated it would fail at the end.

Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 2, 1908, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.