Thursday, April 11, 2013

x1913: Cauterize your nose, cure your asthma

Another interesting concept of Adams is that he denied that most asthmatics had allergies, although he associated abnormalities in the nasal cavity with asthma.  He noted that Henry Hyde Salter cursorily mentioned the relevance of the nose in cases of asthma, when such knowledge was known since 1844 when Herck of Freiburg noted the association of sneezing and asthma. (1, page 89)

Later, Adams noted, Voltolini, in 1872, claimed to have "relieved eleven cases of asthma by removal of nasal polypi.  This idea received further impetus when Lazarus, Brodie and Dixon and others showed that electrical stimulation of the nasal mucosa caused bronchial spasm."

Ernst Schmiegelow explained that Voltini noted that no other asthma physicians prior to him noted the link between nasal polypi and asthma.  And while polypi are not always associated with asthma, there are noted cases where, upon removal of the polypi, the asthma disappeared. Although, if asthma has existed long enough so that it is chronic, removal of the polypi will not make the asthma disappear. Schmiegelow notes that Voltini's opinions were confirmed by Hanisch. (2, page 14)

Schmiegelow notes that "Hanisch thinks that as not all nasal polypes cause asthma, there must be a certain debility of the whole organisation or at least of the organs of breathing. In the nasal polypes themselves he finds sufficient ground for the weakened state of the organisms and lungs, as the insufficient breathing, the restless sleep, the buccal respiration, etc., must be considered capable of causing the general weakness."  (2, page 14)

B. Frankel and Weber also confirmed the findings of Voltini, and they also believed that chronic catarrh could also cause asthma. They believed irritation of the nasal mucous membrane passed a message down the pneumogastric to the pulmonary fibres, causing asthma, and "the result of the reflex was always a bronchospasm.". (2, page 15) Henry Hyde Salter previously mentioned this, and referred to is as reflex asthma.  

Schmiegelow also mentions a Dr. Wilhelm Hack, who "supported by casuistic observations, considered a number of different nervous diseases from the same point of view. Hack's principal object was to show that in the swollen cavernous mucous membrane in the foremost end of the inferior turbinated bones, different nervous states of irritation originate, and these reflex neuroses can be caused experimentally, and they disappear entirely as soon as the places in question are operatively removed. The filling of the cavernous membrane is, according to Hack, the essential in the pathogenesis of these reflex neuroses."

Adams notes that other physicians were so focused on the other theories of asthma, particularly that asthma was neurotic, that they were overlooking the true cause: that there was a problem with the patient's nasal passage causing the asthma, or that there was a toxaemia in the blood causing asthma as I discussed in this post.

Adams emphasises the following: (1, page 89-90)
"I have seen patients with noses absolutely ruined, mere shells of what they should have been—their asthma remaining the same, but promptly clearing up on simple antitoxaemic treatment, except in the case of a poor woman who owed an opium habit to her doctor. Francis cauterises the septal tubercle of all asthmatics—sometimes a valuable temporary procedure; others would also cauterise the lower turbinals—an unnecessary addition. The value of proper nasal treatment cannot be gainsaid; but that it should be subsidiary and ancillary to treatment of the toxaemia I have, where mouth breathing was absent, occasionally and successfully proved by the experiment of carrying out the latter treatment and leaving the nose alone. Apart from the experimental and therapeutical evidence just mentioned, the importance of a nasal factor in asthma can be gauged from several considerations."
Some of the ailments he observed on asthmatics, were:

  • Nasal polypi
  • Deviated Septum
  • Hypertrophied areas in nasal passages
  • Pigeon chest (due to laboring for air so frequently)
  • Mouth breather
  • Expanded shoulders (due to years of laboring for air)
  • Expanded chest (due to emphysema if chronic)

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