Mouth-breathing - its post-operative treatment by respiratory re-education
Burroughs, Alfred E.
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It may be thought that some excuse is required for a description of such a simple method of treatment as respiratory re- education. It is certainly a simple matter, but I am convinced of its efficacy. I have been interested from very early years in mouth breathing, especially of functional origin, having been myself addicted to the habit when a boy. In my case, it was proved by Dr. Bickersteth,of Liverpool, whom I was taken to see, that there was no anatomical basis for the evil habit. So far as I can remember, I commenced to breathe by the mouth during a prolonged attack of coryza, and continued to do so after the coryza had disappeared. I found it absolutely impossible to breathe by the nose. I have since had many such cases brought under my notice. Treatment was partly psychical, partly thera- peutic, I being led to believe that breathing by the mouth was, in some obscure manner, morally wrong. A similar feeling appears to exist in relation to left -handedness. I suffered a good deal in consequence, and, though recognising the value of suggestion in treating cases of functional mouth - breathing, I have always been careful in my own practice to restrict its use. I certainly tried very earnestly to acquire the habit of nasal respiration, and at the end of about two years, after many dreaded visits to my physician ( I did not appreciate the nasal douches and digital post -nasal examinations), I succeeded in establishing a physio- logical basal respiration. No wonder, then, that I was much impressed, when working in Dr. Lermoyez's clinique in Paris ( 1903 - 4), by the results of systematically planned respiratory.exercises, which were then being carried out by Dr. Georges Rosenthal. A case of a young lady, 21 years of age, who had been a mouth breather for at least seven years, cured in four lessons, extending over a period of a fortnight, was so surprising, in_:comparison with my personal experience, as to command attention and investigation of the subject. The case is fully reported on page 77. Subsequent experience has only enforced the lesson of the value of respiratory exercises in functional bùccal respiration, and as a complement to surgical methods in cases of organic nasal stenosi:. As I have occasion to point out more than once in this paper, respiratory exercises are only of service when there no longer exists any anatomical obstruction in the continuity of the nasal passages. They are useless as a substitute for surgical operations in the nose and post -nasal space. Otherwise, the treatment is a perfectly rational and physiological one,and it is doubtless to this fact that the encouraging results of nasal respiratory re- education are due.