Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/226

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defect of hearing. Of the twenty five, not more than five could be said to enjoy perfect hearing. Four fifths of the patients tested had impaired hearing, and had never suspected any defect whatever.

Of all the native-born inhabitants of New York and vicinity and of residents who came here in early life before their respiratory passages were fully developed, probably a not very much smaller percentage have lost some of their ability to hear perfectly.

The normal ear is capable of hearing considerably better than is necessary for the ordinary purposes of civilization; in fact, is endowed with what may be termed "superfluous hearing." Proper tests will discover the loss of even a small portion of this superfluous hearing, and warn us that we are gradually becoming deaf—in fact, already partially deaf—although we may not have noticed the slightest deficiency. This explains why it is that many victims of certain forms of chronic deafness believe their complaint to have been sudden in its beginning, when in reality it has been progressing for several years; the longer time having been occupied by the gradual loss of the "superfluous hearing," and the patient's attention not having been directed to his affliction until the "necessary hearing" was encroached upon.

The great majority of all forms of deafness are dependent upon and directly resultant from affections of the nose and throat.

In the city of New York and vicinity, owing to the extreme variations of the temperature and climate from day to day, it is indeed a rarity to find among the people who have lived here any time a perfectly healthy nose and throat. Such repeated sudden extremes of hot and cold damp weather, which are so common in this location, are ruinous to the throats of even temporary visitors with perfectly healthy respiratory organs; and the effect is so marked, the condition so universal among the inhabitants of this city, that children of catarrhal parents are born with a swollen, catarrhal condition of the inside of the nose and throat which within very few years closes the nostrils so that proper respiration is impossible, and the child becomes what physicians call a "mouth-breather." We meet these children constantly in the streets. The climate of Brooklyn is even worse in this respect.

From the condition of a "mouth-breather" it is but a short step to one of two results—more often both: deafness, and that peculiarly stupid, sleepy, inane, foolish expression of countenance so characteristic of the "mouth-breather."

To parents who have the welfare of their children at heart, such a warning as this should be of sacred importance. As soon as the child gives evidence of a tendency to breathe constantly