Test yourself by inhaling through your nostrils. If you can’t, you may have some kind of obstruction, and should go see an ear, nose and throat specialist. If you can but tend not to, you may be an accidental mouth breather.
Scientists link habitual mouth breathing to a host of medical issues, including sleep problems, learning disorders, tooth decay, bad breath and jaw deformities in children. Plus, a new study suggests that there may be a legitimate basis for “mouth breather” being slang for a stupid person. Japanese researchers obstructed the nostrils of young rats, forcing them to breathe through their mouths, and two weeks later found that the rodents needed twice as long to navigate a maze and had developed fewer brain cells than their unobstructed counterparts. “There are very few things that people can do to improve their health as much as simply switching to nasal breathing,” says Michalak, who tapes his mouth shut every night and claims he can spot mouth breathers in a crowd of strangers by looking at their jaws.
Try keeping your lips closed unless you’re talking, eating or doing strenuous exercise. You’ll notice that you’re working harder; the nasal route adds at least 50 percent more resistance to airflow, which turns out to be beneficial for your lungs, heart and even the biochemistry of your brain. If you snore, or wake up with a dry mouth or nasal congestion, you’re probably also mouth breathing at night. Consider tape. Michalak swears it’s easy to remove — “not like duct tape” — and far less scary than it might seem. Your nose is an intricate air filter, navigation tool and mood enhancer all in one. Use it; suck in that air; smell the world you live in.
Your nose is a specifically designed organ and a part of our respiratory system. Just because you can take air in and out of your mouth as well does not make your nose redundant!
Did you know that our bodies are designed for nose breathing? The mechanisms through which we inhale and exhale through nose breathing correctly as well as consistently- has numerous health benefits.Here are just a few of them.
Nose Breathing Helps Fight Infections
When you breathe in through your nose, the air is warmed, moistened, conditioned and mixed with nitric oxide- which does two important functions- it kills deadly bacteria and works as a vasodilator on the airways, your arteries, and capillaries.
Our body has a gene – T2R38, that stimulates nose’s receptors when you breathe through your nose which reacts with the chemicals that bacteria in the air use to communicate. It stimulates nitric oxide that kills the bacteria so you breathe in a relatively less infectious air. (Scientific American Sept 2014 Page 28)
Nose Breathing Ensures Better Blood Flow and Lung Volumes
The vasodilation by nitric oxide increases the surface area of alveoli, where oxygen is absorbed in the very end of bronchial tubes, which means more oxygen is absorbed more efficiently when you breathe through your nose.
‘Nasal breathing (as opposed to mouth breathing), increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate, and improves overall lung volumes’ (Swift, Campbell, McKown 1988 Oronasal obstruction, lung volumes, and arterial oxygenation – Lancet 1, 73-75)
Nasal Breathing Helps in Maintaining Body Temperature
“The internal nose not only provides around 90% of the respiratory system air-conditioning requirement but also recovers around 33% of exhaled heat and moisture.” (Elad, Wolf, Keck 2008 Air-conditioning in the human nasal cavity. Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology 163. 121-127 )
It Helps in Better Brain Functions
The hypothalamus, also known as the Brain’s brain, is responsible for many functions in our bodies, particularly those that we consider automatic: heartbeat, blood pressure, thirst, appetite, and of course, the cycles of sleeping a waking. The hypothalamus is also responsible for generating chemicals that influence memory and emotion.
“The nasal cycle, which is part of an overall body cycle, is controlled by the hypothalamus. Sympathetic dominance on one side causes nasal vasoconstriction of the ipsilateral turbinate, while parasympathetic dominance on the other causes nasal vasoconstriction of the contralateral turbinate.Increased airflow through the right nostril is correlated to increased left brain activity and enhanced verbal performance; whereas increased airflow through the left nostril is associated with increased right brain activity and enhanced spatial performance.” (Shannahoff-Kalsa, 1993. The ultradian rhythm of alternating cerebral hemispheric activity. International Journal of Neuroscience 70, 285-298)
Breathing through the nose also limits air intake and forces one to SLOW down. Proper nose breathing reduces hypertension and stress for most people. Kind of like a speed control (governor) on a car engine.
It Helps During Your Workouts
The lungs are a primary source of our energy level. They extract oxygen from the air we breathe primarily on the exhale. When you exhale through small nostrils compared to your mouth, a back-pressure is created and exhaled air is restricted and slow down, which is exactly the time lungs use to absorb more oxygen.
It slows the air escape so the lungs have more time to extract oxygen from them. When there is proper oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange, the blood will maintain a balanced pH. Our oxygen uptake happens mostly during the restricted exhale through the nose.
If carbon dioxide is lost too quickly, as in mouth breathing, oxygen absorption is decreased. If you want a better performance during your exercise, you have to stop over-breathing or hyperventilation- a.k.a mouth breathing.
Nose breathing imposes approximately 50 percent more resistance to the air stream in normal individuals than does mouth breathing, resulting in 10-20 percent more O2 uptake. (Cottle, 1972: Rohrer, 1915)
“During exercise, nasal breathing causes a reduction in FEO2, indicating that on expiration the percentage of oxygen extracted from the air by the lungs is increased and an increase in FECO2, indicating an increase in the percentage of expired air that is carbon dioxide”(Morton, King, Papalia 1995 Comparison of maximal oxygen consumption with oral and nasal breathing. Australian Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 27, 51-55|).
Close Your Gaping Mouth and Read On!
Breathing through the mouth like with pursed lips is only for emergencies. If you breathe through your mouth, you bypass many important stages in the breathing process and this could lead to many health problems, like snoring and sleep apnea.
When your body has less oxygen (FEO2 levels go down) you may be forced to engage mouth in breathing as well. Remember those huge yawns where your mouth helps in taking in a lot more air than your nostrils? Those are the emergency situations we are talking about.
Breathing through your nose helps in slowing down the breathing cycle to allow proper CO2 build-up and better O2 uptake. Pursed lip breathing however, over time, weakens the diaphragm by transferring the strength to hold back breathing via the mouth instead of engaging the diaphragm. Think of pursed lip breathing as emergency breathing.
Deadly Bacteria Have a Free Entry Through Mouth Breathing
Your nose is the only organ which is enabled to properly “prepare” the air you breathe.As scary as it may sound, our nose is home to more than 50 species of bacteria– both good and bad – and unfortunately, there are more bad than good ones. But the good news is that the small number of good ones can fight it with the bad ones within the nose itself, saving us from ingesting a lot of bad bacteria at the first stage of breathing-inhalation.
If you bypass your nose and breathe through your mouth, there is no stopping the bad bacteria to reach inside your body. One of the deadliest of them all is Staphylococcus Aureus- which may cause diseases due to direct infections or produce toxins that could cause staph infections that include blood and heart.
The lessening of the common cold is another good reason for nose breathing. The mucous (white blood cells that kill germs) membrane lining the nose extends all the way from the inner linings of the nostrils down the trachea to the bronchi the directly enters the lungs. Germs get caught and die in the mucus. Mouth –breathing will make you more susceptible to common cold and infections.
Mouth Breathing Weakens Your Lungs, Heart and Lot More
Some researchers have pointed out how mouth breathing and associated hyperventilation causes and exacerbates asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease and other medical problems.
Breathing through your mouth causes depleted carbon dioxide levels, reduces blood circulation, slows down your brain and reflexes and even causes spells of dizziness and sometimes unconsciousness. Chronic mouth breathing also causes the muscles that open the sidewalls of the nose to weaken causing narrowing of airways.
When you breathe in the mouth or over-breath, the lungs are overstimulated with oxygen but the airways become dried and vaso-constricted, so an inefficient amount of oxygen is actually absorbed through the alveoli in the lungs.
By breathing through your mouth, you are failing your heart, brain, and all other organs by denying optimal oxygenation. Even though you may have no cardiac disease symptoms, you may develop arrhythmias and other heart ailments.
Mouth Breathing is an Open Invitation to Snoring or Sleep Apnea
Our nasal passages have afferent stimuli- the nerves that regulate breathing. When inhaled air passes through the nose, nasal mucosa carries the stimuli to reflex nerves that control breathing. When you breathe through mouth you bypass nasal mucosa and it predisposes you to loud snoring and irregular breathing. Snoring is a precursor to sleep apnea and apnea a precursor to low cellular oxygen, almost any illness including heart attacks and death in one’s sleep.
Think sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is just a term used to describe Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome. This new medical description for what most of us call snoring is a problem for about 90 million Americans every day.Not only is snoring a major health issue, it is also socially unacceptable. Other people may complain about the noise as it is irritating and they were unable to sleep well in the same room and in some cases the same building!
Mouth Breathing Causes Constriction of Blood Vessels- Think of Your Sexual Activity!
You can’t kiss someone and breathe through your mouth.
You may think that by opening your mouth to breathe you are taking in more air, but in reality, you are just slowing down the breathing.When mouth breathing, the brain thinks carbon dioxide is being lost too quickly and sensing this, it stimulates the goblet cells to produce mucus, slow the breathing and cause constriction of blood vessels.
The nostrils and sinuses filter and warm the air going into the lungs. An average mouth breather bypasses this. The sinuses produce nitric oxide (NO) which is a pollutant- but in small doses, it is harmful to bacteria.
Nitric (not nitrous) oxide is one of the very important chemical parts of sexual arousal. It vaso-dilates (engorgement) and plays a part in maintaining the erection.
Mouth Breathing Restricts You from Enjoying Life
Think of all the beautiful smells we enjoy with our nose. Smell influences our behavior, our memories, and many autonomic nervous system functions which are below the level of conscious awareness.
This is because the receptors in the nose, known as olfactory bulbs, are direct extensions of a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, Each of our nostrils is innervated by five cranial nerves from a different side of the brain.
Each nostril functions independently and synergistic in filtering, warming, moisturizing, dehumidifying, and smelling the air. Maintaining a keen sense of smell is very important for enjoying life and for safety and social acceptance.
Mouth Breathing can Affect Your Appearance!
Mouth breathing can produce an anterior open bite, a longer face, and some suggest that because of poor sleep quality produces a baggy appearance under the eyes. Mouth breathing also accelerates water loss increasing possible dehydration.
What can You Do to Break Your Habit of Mouth-breathing?
The first step is to be conscious of how you breathe when you are awake. Training yourself to nose breathe while awake guides the way you breathe while sleeping.
What you do during waking hours carries over into sleep. Any opportunity for mouth breathing -inhaling or exhaling will increase the chances of mouth breathing during waking and sleep. Hospital studies have established that nocturnal mouth breathing is a primary cause of loud snoring.
You can also think of using Chin-Up Strips (free samples included in all Breathing Mastery Kits ) that are safe, inexpensive and easy to use. In fact, if you mouth-breathe during waking hours you can bet you will mouth breathe while sleeping.
The best part is you can use them during the exercises shown in the Optimal Breathing Mastery Kit AS WELL AS DURING SLEEP.
“I am convinced improved breathing through the nasal mucosa 24/7 is a key to a long and healthy life. A life filled with energy and a great disposition which will help maintain and strengthen the relationships one needs for emotional and physical wellness.” Dale D. Miller, JD & CEO www.chinupstrip.com
“People with chronic sinus conditions should use a sinus rinse daily as it promotes drainage of the sinuses and speeds healing of inflamed tissues… “Self-Healing” Dr. Andrew Weil M.D.