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It seems that the value of gargles remains an undecided matter in the minds of physicians who have given the subject their attention. For this reason and because of extensive exploitation of gargles by advertisers to the lay public, we undertook objective studies of the comparative value of gargles and throat irrigations.
For these observations, subjects used a thin liquid suspension of barium sulphate while lateral x-ray views of the head and neck were made. The first methods included (1) violent gargling, (2) gentle gargling and (3) tilting the head backward and allowing the suspension to run as far backward as possible without gargling. A study of the films showed that with all these methods the tongue is firmly pressed against the soft palate in such a position that the liquid cannot reach the anterior faucial pillars. Occasionally if the subject interrupted the procedure to take a breath of air
Snow W, Stern JE. GARGLING AND THROAT IRRIGATION. JAMA. 1934;103(11):831. doi:10.1001/jama.1934.72750370003010b