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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/816

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means of curing tuberculosis, or a Behring, who introduces the serum therapy of diphtheria, arouses an interest which is limited only by the four corners of the world. The modest worker in sanitation, however, who explains the means of the development of these diseases, and the conditions and laws by means of which they may be prevented, is looked upon without interest and frequently with disfavor. But in spite of these conditions, the laws of hygiene are gradually becoming more farspread, and their influence is felt more with each advancing year.

The nose, throat, and ear are so intimately connected with the other parts of the body that their health depends to a large extent upon the condition of the system in general. The laws of hygiene and their application which refer to the body in general are also applicable to these parts, and whatever condition benefits the former will have a useful influence on the upper respiratory passages, and, inversely, any injurious effect will injure the health of these organs.

The physiology of this region is of much importance. Formerly the nose was considered principally in its relation to the organ of smell. This is a most important function, as it is a constant sentinel over the air we breathe and the food we eat. It is a curious circumstance that many of the functions that are referred to the organ of taste really belong to that of smell. In eating ice cream, for instance, the sense of taste simply informs us that it is sweet or otherwise, but the flavor is perceived only by the sense of smell. A proof of this is that where this function is destroyed, all ability in this direction disappears, and the patient thus affected will frequently complain that his sense of taste is defective, not realizing that it is the sense of smell which performs this act.

The nose, however, has a much more important function to perform—viz., in respiration. Strange to say, however, this has only recently been realized, and it is even yet not well understood. You have all observed that, when you had a severe "cold" which prevented nasal breathing, the next morning the mouth and throat were dry and parched and frequently inflamed, the voice sometimes hoarse, and there was a general feeling of depression. While the progress of the inflammatory process may be a factor in this, still the mechanical obstruction of the nose from any cause whatsoever will have a similar effect. In patients in whom, for various reasons, an artificial opening has been made in the trachea, the air of the room has to be heated to an almost intolerable point and saturated with moisture, or severe bronchial inflammation will soon develop in the patient, simply because the nose has not taken an active part in the act of respiration. These effects, therefore, clearly demonstrate that the nasal passages have an important function to perform in the breathing