Can cold air really choke someone to death?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by GaiaGirl95, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    How to explain them? They were due to lack of knowledge and gross misunderstandings in 1926 - that's how.
     
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  3. GaiaGirl95 Banned Banned

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    Then why did they die? The article mentions the man choking from the cold and asphyxiating to death. The doctors noted his windpipe was shut off by his thymus gland. No ''gross misunderstanding'' could cause a doctor to hallucinate a grossly strangled windpipe.
     
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  5. Janus58 Valued Senior Member

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    That's because water is much more efficient at conducting heat away from you than air is.
     
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  7. Janus58 Valued Senior Member

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    I was raised ~200 miles North of Minneapolis, and remember pretty much the same thing; the only time they closed schools was when it snowed so much overnight that the plows couldn't clear the roads fast enough.
    My folks told me about the winter of '29, where their mattress froze from the moisture in their breath as they slept. They couldn't figure out why they couldn't keep warm no matter how many blankets they had, until the day that my mom tried to flip the mattress and found it was frozen to the springs. Nothing about people choking to death from the cold however.
     
  8. rpenner Fully Wired Valued Senior Member

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    From the ridiculous stories:
    1) I guess The girl was assaulted and murdered
    2) I guess The man went into anaphylactic shock
    3) I know In both case the doctor's had the wrong information of the normal size of the thymus and so misdiagnosed the cause of death.
    This also explains why no one since 1961 has died of their thyroid thymus suddenly swelling for any reason. Thymuses don't suddenly swell, but that is an illusion because people who die after been stressed for months and years have smaller thyroids from people who die suddenly for reasons unconnected to the thymus and thus die with a normal-sized thymus that didn't have a change to shrink from the peaceable, if stressful, ways that most medical cadavers encounter in the months and years before death.

    Nowhere is there an actual description of the size of the thymuses, so there is no evidence other than those of ignorant doctors of that the thymus was enlarged. This isn't Quincy, M.E., or CSI or Bones, this is 1926.


    http://www.ratical.org/radiation/CNR/PBC/chp6F.html A war over "enlarged thymuses"
    http://www.ratical.org/radiation/CNR/PBC/chp11F.html The tide began turning against blaming the thymus for every unexplained death
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014
  9. GaiaGirl95 Banned Banned

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    Sorry but the news article about the girl's death offers a drawing of what the enlarged thymus gland looked like at the autopsy, relative to her chest cavity. If you compare it to anatomy on Google Images for the thymus gland size in an adult you'll see it was considerably larger than normal.
     
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    You can die of hypothermia in 50F water, or even air - that doesn't make 50F some kind of scary emergency temperature for outside air to be.

    Neither is -2F - that's not cold enough to freeze a guy from the inside out just by breathing it, or cause his internal organs to go haywire. -20 can be a problem if your car breaks down or your house catches fire and you aren't ready, but it's a temperature I used to go outside and play in as a child. The biggest problem was that the ice and snow got more abrasive and your skates, sleds, etc, didn't work as well. Also, you can't make a good snowball. But your boots and mitts tended to stay dryer - which meant you actually had an easier time, in some ways, staying warm, than on technically warmer days. Close the schools in Minnesota?

    To be fair, the northern temps did get down there - near -40F&C, which is dangerous and has to be respected - but still nobody died of thymus swelling. I'll bet people went ice fishing, to the rink, took the kids - got to do something with them if school's closed, they go stir crazy penned up in the house too long, and this was after a weekend.

    I've met a guy who got hit by lightning. I've met a guy who was kicked in the balls by a loon. I went hunting with a guy who stepped on a skunk in broad daylight. I've known people to get killed (and eaten) by their pigs, assaulted and gored by white-tail deer, hit by falling trees, knocked out of their boats by jumping fish (that was a new one, just last year), die by getting stuck in a badger hole (that was ugly), drown in the corn in their own silo, get shot by their dog, get blown up by their car battery, cut their own heads off changing a tire on their truck. I have never, in all my years in some of the coldest but nevertheless well populated areas of the planet, heard of anyone killed or lived having their thymus swell from breathing cold air - even really cold air, never mind some -2F normal winter morning. Know what's more llikely? They woke up a beehive in a wall and got stung somehow, went into anaphylactic shock. Sure it's unlikely - but not as unlikely as thymuses gone wild for no apparent reason.

    Come to think of it, I don't believe a thymus could crush a trachea if it did swell - that's a soft organ, there's other places for it to push into, and the force necessary to compress a trachea is significant
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014
  11. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Hopefully, you were bright enough to read those links that rpenner provided, right? I mention that because you replied to him exactly 5 minutes after he posted and that was NOT enough time to read them both.

    We really aren't trying to put you down - just trying to get you to see the simple truth.
     
  12. GaiaGirl95 Banned Banned

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    115
    No, seriously. Just look at the image in the paper, then search ''thymus gland'' in Google Images. The thymus gland was heavily swollen in the girl's case. The thymus gland cannot be seen easily via X-ray because it lies on the trachea, and because it is small.

    See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Illu_thymus.jpg

    From Mayo Foundation of Educational Research - Thymus in adult: http://kochituskersfanclub.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/r7_thymus.jpg
     
  13. rpenner Fully Wired Valued Senior Member

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    That 1926 image is not an autopsy photo -- but rather an artist's rendering without scale. It is not evidence of anything specific to the case of the dead girl. You might as well look at a political cartoon and conclude Japanese upper incisors regularly protrude below the chin.

    http://julieclawson.com/2009/03/02/admitting-historical-mistakes/
    More details: http://helix.northwestern.edu/blog/2010/02/when-science-goes-wrong
    And: http://www.orderofthegooddeath.com/poverty-the-thymus-and-sudden-infant-death-syndrome
    And: http://www.music-cog.ohio-state.edu/Music829C/sampling.haphazard.html


    Also: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-an-enlarged-thymus.htm#didyouknowout Fear and cold not listed causes of thymus enlargement. Adult problems with breathing not linked to thymus enlargement.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014
  14. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    10,296
    Those are front-only views and you need to see it from the side, together with the trachea. You've already been told more than once that it does NOT lie on the trachea.
     
  15. TBodillia Registered Senior Member

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    Gaiagirl95, you have posted this question across how many different forums? And the ones I found basically had the same answers as here.

    Let's start with the "doctors": The article states "Swelling of the thymus gland in his throat..." Major problem right off the bat. As you have been repeatedly told, the thymus gland is in the chest. The thyroid gland is in the throat. If a "doctor" says the thymus gland in the throat swelled up...well, that's why it's "doctor" and not doctor.

    Last: Antarctic researchers & dwellers have this neat little club called the 300 Club. To join the club, when the temperature drops to -100°F, you have to sit in a 200°F sauna to heat up. Then you run outside, bare ass buck naked, to the "Ceremonial South Pole" marker and then back inside. Nobody has choked to death from a swollen thymus or thyroid gland.
     
  16. GaiaGirl95 Banned Banned

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    Thymus enlargement can cause respiratory problems. Say, a tumour growing on the thymus. Just because it lies on the chest does not mean it can not press on the trachea when swollen.
    The thymus is supposed to disappear by age 20, leaving a a few lumps of fatty material and little active lymph tissue.
     
  17. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Why are you apparently obsessed with posting credulous rubbish and demanding we agree with you that it is truth? There is now several pages of explanation on this thread, from several members, debunking this ludicrous story. And yet you keep insisting it must have happened the way it was reported, by some country bumpkin doctor, back in the 1920s.

    You have been almost as bad with the spontaneous combustion nonsense.

    Why bother to bring this stuff to a science forum and then refuse to accept the answers you get? Isn't it a waste of both your, and our, time?
     
  18. GaiaGirl95 Banned Banned

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    No, I just find problems with your argument. The thymus IS known to cause respiratory issue in people with thymus cancer, and the size of the thymus in an adult is now well-documented. A search on Google Images for such anatomy will show you what the thymus is supposed to look like in an adult.
     
  19. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    My argument is that you have a choice between, on the one hand, trusting the judgment of informed people here and noting the total absence of any modern instance of choking attributed to this cause, or on the other, of believing a newspaper report from 1926, reporting the alleged diagnosis of a country bumpkin doctor of that era.

    Most people would be able to make the rational choice.
     
  20. rpenner Fully Wired Valued Senior Member

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    My research shows in the case of the Lena Leblanc, the autopsy was done but no cause of death was found and that a Harvard man was brought into to consult and instead of saying "I don't know" he advanced the theory it must have been the thymus. With that story making regional news, it suggests that the farmer's doctor jumped to that conclusion.

    Also about this time research was published on the development of the thymus in healthy people which would have debunked this story and the nineteenth century ideas about the function and size of the thymus that it was based on but this research was ignored for 25 years perhaps because the author was a woman.

    GaiaGirl95 -- you are grasping as straws to compare children with rare tumors to adults in which the thymus was fingered as the cause of death without evidence. To rely on 1926 doctors when you know they were ignorant of even the normal size of the thymus, let alone its function, seems obstinate and unreasonable.
     
  21. GaiaGirl95 Banned Banned

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    I speak from experience. When the weather is extremely cold, around 0 F or so, I cannot breathe in it for more than a couple of minutes, or I feel a pressure sensation at the end of my trachea. It is different to when I am suffering an asthma attack in that the sensation of pressure lies around the bronchial tubes, and not a point in the middle of the chest. The area where I feel pressure from breathing cold air pertains to the area in which the thymus gland lies. It causes me difficulty breathing, and pain.
     
  22. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    And? What did your doctor say about it?
     
  23. GaiaGirl95 Banned Banned

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    My doctor told me the same thing. Cold causes things to expand, and put stress on the body, so the organs around my trachea expand (swell).
     

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