On aprosexia, being the inability to fix the attention and other allied troubles in the cerebral functions caused by nasal disorders - Guye (1889)
The inability to focus attention is often caused by nasal disorders
Medical practitioners should focus on nasal disorders when examining cases of improper mental function
The Breathing Diabetic Summary
This paper was published over 100 years ago, which makes me really appreciate the written word and the Internet. I found this one after reading the Lavie (1983) paper that reminded us, “While asleep, shut your mouth and save your brain.” <— That quote was inspired by this 1889 paper.
The entire paper was focused on the nose and mental function. The author (Guye) coined a great word, aprosexia, which is the inability to focus one’s attention due to nasal disorders. He argued in this short paper that many cases of “over-pressure” in schools, headache, and inability to perform difficult mental work could be resolved by simply fixing nasal respiration. He suggested that medical practitioners take nasal disorders seriously and ensure that nasal breathing is not “habitually or temporarily suspended by breathing through the mouth.”
Dr. Guye cited several anecdotal cases from his own practice where restoring proper nasal function improved patients’ ability to focus and work. He really emphasized the role of nasal breathing in school. (Remember this was 1889!) He said that, with how much pressure is put on students, it is critical that they have proper nasal respiration. He hypothesized (with his own case studies as evidence) that the students might not feel so over-pressured if they had normal nasal respiration and therefore proper mental functioning. In the present fast-paced, information-filled world, I think this advice is even more important today.
And finally, he ended this short paper with a great quote:
“Shut your mouth and save your brain.”
Guye, D., (1889) On aprosexia, being the inability to fix the attention and other allied troubles in the cerebral functions caused by nasal disorders, Br. Med. J., 2, 709-711.