Breathing is one of the most important aspects of life – in fact, without breathing, we cannot live. This is a commonly known fact.
Breathing is vital for allowing the body to receive oxygen, which all cells depend on to survive. Additionally, breathing also allows the body to get rid of waste products, including carbon dioxide, that is collected in the lungs.
You never concentrate on breathing, so we do not always consider how we breathe. Essentially, we can breathe air through either the nose or the mouth, both leading the air toward the lungs.
Normally, a person would use both their mouth and their nose to breathe in and out. The nose, however, is the main pathway that we use for breathing.
At times, however, when sinus or allergies strike, as well as the common cold, the nose may become congested and blocked – this makes breathing through the mouth essential. When the nose opens up again, we return to breathing through the nose.
In some people, however, breathing occurs primarily through the mouth. While this may not seem harmful at first, there are complications in both children and adults that may develop with mouth breathing.
In this post, we’ll explore how you can recognize the symptoms of mouth breathing, look at why it is vital to utilize your nose for breathing and consider some easy steps that will help you train your body to use your nose instead of your mouth for breathing.
How to Know If You're a Mouth Breather
The first step to addressing mouth breathing is recognizing the symptoms. Since breathing becomes such an automated activity of the body, we often do not recognize the fact that we may be breathing through the wrong airway.
Mouth breathing is relatively common at night, especially, and can produce a number of symptoms in both children and adults.
In adults, symptoms of mouth breathing may include snoring at night, frequently experiencing dry mouth symptoms, halitosis, hoarseness of the voice, and waking up in an irritable mood.
You may also start to develop dark circles underneath your eyes and experience chronic fatigue. Some people also experience brain fog when they breathe through their mouth.
Children may experience irritability, enlarged tonsils, dry or cracked lips, daytime sleepiness and they may find it difficult to concentrate while at school.
Mouth breathing in children may also cause the child to experience a reduced growth rate and even cause them to cry frequently at night.
This review paper also explains that long-term mouth breathing can cause facial development problems, such as skeletal Class II facial profiles and skeletal Class III facial profiles.
What causes mouth breathing?
In the majority of cases where a person continuously breathes through their mouth instead of their nose, an obstruction in their nose is to blame.
When the body is unable to obtain its required oxygen supply through the nose, then the body will automatically resort to the mouth for getting the oxygen it needs to survive.
A blocked nasal airway is often caused by a sinus infection, a cold or by allergies, but other problems can also cause the nasal airway to become blocked. Such issues may include enlarged tonsils or adenoids, a deviated septum, and the growth of polyps in the nose.
Additionally, the shape of a person's nose or their jaw may also have an impact on their risk of experiencing nasal congestion.
Individuals with obstructive sleep apnea are also prone to breathing through their mouth instead of their nose, especially during sleep.
It should be noted that after the nasal congestion has been resolved, some people may continue to breathe through their mouth instead of their nose as mouth breathing has become a habit for them.
Apart from nasal congestions, anxiety, stress and similar symptoms can also make a person prone to breathing through their mouth instead of relying on their nose for breathing.
Why is it important that you breathe through your nose?
It is important that individuals who frequently find themselves breathing through their mouth to realize why it is essential for them to adopt habits of breathing through their nose.
The nose is the primary airway that helps the lungs receive oxygen for many important reasons.
Firstly, nitric oxide is produced inside of the nose. Nitric oxide is an essential gassy substance that is carried to the lungs with the air that is breathed in – the nitric oxide helps to improve the absorption of oxygen by the lungs, leading to more oxygen being distributed throughout the body.
In addition to assisting with the absorption, the nitric oxide is also an important substance for the vasodilation of blood vessels – this helps oxygen-rich blood to be transported to all parts of the body more easily.In addition to providing an improvement in the absorption of oxygen in the body, the nitric oxide produced in the nose also contains agents that make the substance antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiviral and antifungal.
This means nitric oxide can destroy pathogenic materials and help the immune system fight against bacteria, parasites, viral infections and fungal infections.
How to Stop Mouth Breathing
When you recognize symptoms of mouth breathing in yourself, it is important to take some measures to help you switch to nose breathing.
The tips below will help you to stop breathing through your mouth and help you take advantage of the benefits that your body can gain from receiving its oxygen supply through your nose.
1. Train Yourself
The first step to overcoming mouth breathing and to start breathing through your nose instead is to literally train yourself.
You need to train yourself to breath with your nose and with your mouth closed. You need to take advantage of your brain here.
Many people find themselves breathing through their mouth during the day – whenever this happens, close your mouth and force yourself to breathe through your nose instead. It may be a good idea to place a note somewhere that you frequently look – maybe stick it on your monitor.
2. Practice nose clearing exercise
When your nose become blocked due to sinus, a cold or allergies, then practicing nose clearing exercises can help you experience a relief of the congestion. In turn, this may help to ease breathing through your nose and help you avoid breathing through your mouth.
A simple breathing exercise where you sit down and pinch your nostrils after exhaling and then release your nostrils and breathe through your nose every time you need to breath is an effective way to relieve a clogged nose and stop breathing through your mouth.
3. Elevate your head when sleeping
Most people who breathe through their mouth during the night find that the problem lies with nasal congestion. For this reason, sleeping with your head in an elevated position can help you avoid breathing through your mouth while sleeping. Ideally, your head should be kept at a position that is higher than your heart.
4. Adopt a good sleeping position
Your sleeping position also plays a part in allowing you to experience a relief of nasal congestion and ensuring you can easily breath through your nose while you are asleep. Sleeping on your back is a good way to prevent continuously breathing through your mouth as this position, when elevated at the top, can help to relieve nasal congestion.
Physical exercise is beneficial for the entire body and contributes to a healthier immune system, as well as many other advantages. A study by James N. Baraniuk, MD and others indicated that aerobic exercise can help to provide a relief in nasal congestion within as little as half a minute.
Experts also argues that overweight people have a problem of breathing through their mouth. Therefore exercising to lose the extra weight will help you stop breathing through your mouth when sleeping.
6. Remove all known allergens
Allergens in your surroundings causes you to experience allergies and, of course, a stuffy nose. This makes breathing through the nose harder. Removing allergens, such as pets, from your bedroom at night can help you sleep with better and avoid mouth breathing.
7. Mouth taping
Mouth taping is another useful method that forces you to breathe through your nose while you sleep. This is a relatively simple method and simply involves applying tape over your mouth before you go to sleep. When you wake up the next morning, simply remove the tape and you are ready for the day.
8. Using nasal saline spray
The use of a saline nasal spray can also bring about relief of nasal congestion and even be helpful in the treatment of sinus infections. Additionally, a nasal saline spray will help to reduce inflammation that may be present in the mucous membranes and provide adequate levels of moisture to nasal passages that have become dry.
9. Using mouth guards
Mouthguards for snoring have been designed to help keep your mouth closed while you are sleeping. In turn, this avoids mouth breathing and will force your body to rely on your nasal airway to obtain oxygen instead.
You might also want to try using Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machines. They are a common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. A CPAP machine uses a hose and mask or nose piece to deliver constant and steady air pressure through the nose. By doing this they also offer relief for snoring caused by mouth breathing.
In this post, we gave you all of the most vital information regarding mouth breathing to help you determine if you need to make some changes to change from mouth breathing to nose breathing.
We helped you understand why breathing through your nose is important, and we provided you with some useful tips that will help you switch back to nose breathing; thus ensuring that you can avoid the potential complications that chronic mouth breathing may bring about.