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The ordinary cold in the head is an acute infections catarrh of the upper air passages. The symptoms and treatment are dealt with under the heading Cold in the Head.
Chronic catarrh, which is also known by the names of chronic coryza and chronic rhinitis, may be left after an acute attack or a succession of mild colds. Any fever, such as scarlatina or measles, is often succeeded by this condition. It is common among those whose occupations compel them to inhale irritating dust, such as masons, millers and tobacco workers. But in addition to these simple and direct causes this type of discharge may result from any chronic affection of the nose. In childhood, enlarged tonsils and adenoids are a frequent predisposing factor, as may be any deformity of the septum or turbinate bones. In adults, tubereulosis and syphilis of the air passages are common underlying diseases, as also is suppuration of the bony air sinuses.
The symptoms are those of catarrh and nasal obstruction. The latter causes nocturnal mouth-breathing, as the secretion is much worse at night. This secretion is usually odourless, but may be very foul, as in ozoena; its quantity and quality vary from a little "water" to a profuse, thick and tenacious muco-pus. This pus is often due to the presence of staphylococci.
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Complications are many and varied. There are the local effects, descending infections of the larynx and lungs, as well as direct spread of disease to the ear, eye, and skin. Cerebral affections are consequent on the intimate vascular and anatomical connexions between the nose and brain. Digestive troubles and general mal-development of brain and body result from mouth-breathing, swallowing of septic matter, faulty respiration and absorption of toxins.
Treatment of the Condition
The treatment is essentially that of the cause, when any definite underlying factor can be found. In addition, all general measures usually employed for a cold in the head must be adopted and any complication dealt with. Locally mild antiseptic and alkaline lotions may be used in the form of sprays, inhalations or douches. Sniffing of the liquid from the hand is the simplest, and when done properly a very effective means as the fluid then follows the natural track taken by the inspired air.
More natural means of raising the resistance to catarrhal infections include a well-balanced dietary, in which dairy products, fresh vegetables and fruits predominate, and the avoidance of over-clothing and of ill-ventilated rooms.