Mouth breathing; You are most likely breathing without thinking about it

Dr. Magdy Badran

You are most likely breathing without thinking about it. Your body does this automatically, with little or no conscious effort on your part.

In general, it is healthier to breathe through the nose rather than the mouth. This is because nasal breathing is more natural and helps your body use the air you inhale efficiently.

It is estimated that between 10% and 25% of children and about 30-50% of adults breathe through their mouths, especially earlier in the day. Humans developed mouth breathing as a survival technique – it holds our breath while we eat with our mouths, so we don’t choke.

Chronic mouth breathing may be associated with the disease. The Benefits of Nose Breathing Since your nose was specifically designed to help you breathe, nose breathing has many benefits.

Nose breathing is beneficial mainly because it allows your nasal cavities to: reduce exposure to foreign substances, filter out toxins, moisten and warm inhaled air, increase airflow to arteries, veins, and nerves, increase oxygen uptake and flow, slow breathing, improve lung volume, help your diaphragm work properly, reduce your risk of allergies and hay fever, reduce your risk of coughing, help your immune system, reduce your risk of snoring and sleep apnea, and promote proper tooth and mouth formation. Your nose can smell harmful substances in the air or in your food. Your mouth cannot find these toxins as efficiently.

Types of mouth breathing Mouth breathing is classified into three types: obstructive, habitual and anatomical.

Obstructed mouth breathing is seen in people with increased resistance or complete obstruction of normal airflow through the nasal passages.

Habitual mouth breathing is seen in a person who breathes continuously through the mouth out of force of habit, although the obstruction has been removed. Anatomical mouth breathing is observed in a case with a short upper lip that does not allow closure without excessive effort.

Risk factors for mouth breathing Anyone can develop the habit of mouth breathing, but certain conditions increase your risk. These include: chronic allergies, hay fever, chronic or recurrent sinus infections, asthma, chronic stress and anxiety.

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system resulting in shallow, rapid and abnormal breathing. Causes of Mouth Breathing Nasal obstruction (partial or complete obstruction of your nasal airways) is a common cause of mouth breathing.

If your nose is blocked, the body automatically resorts to the only other source that can provide oxygen: your mouth. There are many causes of a stuffy nose. These include: nasal congestion caused by allergies, a cold or sinus infection, enlarged adenoids, enlarged tonsils, deviated septum, nasal polyps or benign growths of tissue in the lining of the nose, enlarged turbinates, nose shape, jaw shape and size, and tumors (rare). Some people develop the habit of breathing through the mouth instead of the nose even after the nasal obstruction clears. For some people with sleep apnea, it can become a habit to sleep with their mouths open to meet their need for oxygen. Birth defects, such as choanal atresia, cleft palate, or Pierre Robin syndrome, can cause mouth breathing.

Mouth Breathing Symptoms Many people don’t realize that they breathe through their mouth instead of their nose, especially if it happens when they sleep.

However, some of the symptoms related to mouth breathing may include: snoring, dry mouth, bad breath (halitosis), brain fog, waking up tired and irritable, chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances such as insomnia, dark circles under the eyes, appearance slightly open mouth, malocclusion (upper and lower teeth don’t line up) and being a noisy eater.

Dental issues: Mouth breathing can lead to improper jaw positioning. This can lead to jaw pain, teeth grinding, and an irregular bite that may need correction.

Hoarseness: Breathing through the mouth can dry out the airways, causing a person to have a hoarse voice. Speech changes: Breathing through the mouth is associated with an increased risk of a speech disorder called lisping.

A lisp affects a person’s ability to say the letter “s”, causing the letter to sound more like “th” when pronounced. Symptoms in Children Children who breathe through their mouths breathe with their mouths open and often snore at night. But unlike adults, children often can’t communicate their symptoms, so it’s important for parents to look for the signs. In addition to the above, these include: irritability, problems concentrating at school, increased episodes of crying at night, and dry, cracked lips. According to one study, about 50.9% of children identified as mouth breathers had strong mouth odor.

Children may have more severe symptoms. Mouth breathing can affect facial development in children, causing what is known as “mouth breathing face”. People whose face breathes through their mouths often have shrunken faces with receding chins or jaws. A child who has been mouth breathing for a while will often have an overbite.

The technical term for this jaw position is retrognathic. Studies show that some children who breathe through their mouths develop behavioral problems similar to problems seen in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Complications of mouth breathing Breathing through your mouth can dry out your gums and the tissues that line your mouth.

This can alter the natural bacteria in the mouth, leading to gum disease or tooth decay. Complications caused by mouth breathing can include: higher incidence of snoring and sleep apnea, problems with jaw joints, difficulty speaking and swallowing, teeth not fitting properly due to an affected bite, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and worsening asthma symptoms.

Children who breathe through their mouths have a greater negative impact on their quality of life than those who breathe through their noses.

Prevention tips Early diagnosis and treatment of mouth breathing are essential to minimize its impact on quality of life. For example, you may need to take allergy medication, or if you have sleep apnea, your doctor will suggest treatments depending on the severity of your case.

Try to lose weight, avoid alcohol and certain sleeping pills, use special pillows, or take medicine for sinus disease. Practice inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Keep your nose clean. Reduce stress so you don’t gasp with your mouth. Use a larger pillow to support your head when sleeping.

For more intense cases, you may need to wear a special mask over your nose or mouth while you sleep. Nasal breathing exercises can help improve your nasal breathing.

These techniques can also help improve your lung function, increase respiratory muscle strength, and relieve stress and anxiety. Alternate nostril breathing is a common breathing exercise used in yoga. In this technique, you inhale through one nostril and exhale through the other, while using your finger to close the opposite nostril.

Exercise requires focus, so it’s great for increasing mindfulness. It can also help improve your lung function and reduce stress. Abdominal breathing is also known as diaphragmatic breathing or abdominal breathing. This involves taking slow, deep breaths through your nose.

The goal is to breathe deep enough to fill your belly with air. This increases the amount of oxygen you take in and can help slow your breathing and heart rate. Abdominal breathing also increases mindfulness and reduces stress. Brilliant skull breath, is an exercise used in yoga.

This involves quick, strong exhalations and normal inhalations. The technique can help improve respiratory function by engaging your breathing muscles and diaphragm. It might also help boost your focus and concentration.

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