Many people who have a chronic mouth breathing habit know about some of the annoying consequences like dry mouth and bad breath, but they are not aware of the more serious health problems that can develop if a mouth breathing habit goes unchecked. Children are especially at risk for the negative side effects of mouth breathing because their facial structure is still developing and mouth breathing can seriously interfere with that process, leading to poor health outcomes later in life.
Nasal breathing allows the body to filter allergens such as dust and pollen out of the air before they enter. Cold air is also warmed up in the nasal passages which helps the body oxidize it better. Probably the most crucial element of nasal breathing is a compound called nitric oxide which plays a really important role in many of the processes that take place in the human body. While the exact source of nitric oxide is not fully understood, it is undeniable that it is generated and pumped into the body via nasal breathing.
Even if you haven’t noticed any problems like dry mouth, halitosis, tooth decay, or sleep apnea, it’s never too early to correct your breathing pattern. It will grant many health benefits and help your body to keep functioning the way it’s supposed to. All the facts you need to know about mouth breathing, nose breathing, and the positive health benefits of nitric oxide are in this helpful guide. By the end of it, you should have learned all you need to know to stop mouth breathing for good.
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Nose Breathing vs Mouth Breathing: Which Is Better?
Aside from those times when the body needs to get large quantities of oxygen into the lungs as quickly as possible, nasal breathing is far more preferable. There are numerous health benefits to nasal breathing and at least one study shows that alternating breathing between the left and right nasal airway alternatively activates or relaxes your parasympathetic nervous system which can boost metabolism and maintain healthy blood pressure.
Mouth breathing over long periods can sap energy levels and cause obstructive sleep apnea. People with interrupted sleep patterns are generally more irritable and their metabolism is much less effective. Even if you aren’t breathing in, leaving your mouth open for long periods makes it more likely that the upper airway will collapse. This is most likely correlated with the restriction on the airway caused by the angle of the jaw, which is wider than when you have your mouth shut.
Nasal Breathing and Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide is one of those miracle elements that appear to have nothing but positive effects on the human body. It helps oxygenate the blood, improve breathing patterns, and boost the immune system. Nitric oxide is produced in the nasal passages and passed into the body through nasal breathing. Mouth breathers miss out on this critical influx of nitric oxide.
Scientists have long studied the effects of nitric oxide. One certain discovery across various tests and surveys is that nitric oxide improves lung function overall. NO also helps reduce respiratory tract infections and expands the blood vessels. Plaque growth and clotting are both reduced by this expansion of the blood vessels. With this less restricted flow, blood pressure can be controlled much more easily.
Nasal Breathing and the Immune System
Your nose has an incredibly sophisticated system for filtering air and preventing germs and allergens from entering the rest of the breathing tract. Nasal breathing is one of your body’s first lines of defense. Nitric oxide also boosts the immune system by balancing carbon dioxide levels, which is essential to get oxygen from hemoglobin cells to the rest of the body.
Carbon dioxide and nitric oxide also help to keep the airway open so that oxygen can be more easily transported to all parts of the body. Warming and humidifying the air before it goes into the lower respiratory tract is another way that nasal breathing improves immune system response.
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3 Common Causes of Chronic Mouth Breathing
Anyone who has ever had a common cold knows that even the first signs of a stuffy nose cause the body to resort to mouth breathing. There are many other causes as well, ranging from chronic conditions to lifestyle elements. Understanding what typically causes chronic mouth breathing can help identify ways to stop it. Here are a few of the usual suspects:
1. Allergic Rhinitis
Rhinitis comes in many forms. Acute rhinitis is most often the result of a respiratory infection or other sudden-onset illness. Allergic rhinitis, though, stems from allergens that make it past the nose’s filtration system and invoke a reaction from the immune system and the production of histamine. They are usually seasonal and the particular allergen varies from person to person.
Allergic rhinitis is one of the leading causes of mouth breathing. It typically causes a runny nose, sneezing, and itching. When there is additional fluid in the lining of nasal passages, sinuses, and eyelids, the body is more likely to be forced to use mouth breathing to get the oxygen it needs.
2. Enlarged Adenoids
Adenoids are located in the back of the throat. They can become enlarged for a variety of reasons and they may also be enlarged from birth. Alongside the tonsils, the adenoids form a part of the immune system. If they are inflamed, they can block the air passage. They can also lead to ear problems, difficulty swallowing, snoring, a stuffy nose, and a sore throat.
Enlarged adenoids are most common in children but may be removed via surgery, usually without any interference on the immune system. They also begin shrinking from the age of 7 and continue shrinking considerably throughout adulthood.
3. Deviation of the Nasal Septum
The septum is the wall between your nasal passages. When it is deviated, that means it is misaligned, off-center, or otherwise crooked. There are a few causes of deviated septums. Injury, a birth condition, and improper growth are the most common causes.
Treatment for a deviated septum is generally a surgical procedure, although there are also medications that can help correct some of its adverse effects. Postnasal drip from a deviated septum can lead to a sore throat. A deviated septum might also cause a runny nose, headaches, nosebleeds, sinus infections, and interrupted sleep.
Chronic Mouth Breathing and Tongue Position
It’s highly unlikely you’ve put much thought into the proper place for your tongue when it isn’t in use. The proper position is against the roof of the mouth, but mouth breathers tend to keep their tongues on the bottom of their mouth to make more room for the air coming in. Keeping the tongue in this position can damage the arrangement of teeth, particularly in children whose permanent teeth have not grown in yet.
The muscles in the face sometimes function incorrectly as a result of incorrect tongue placement. A high tongue position also correlates with a more regular heart rate. Chewing, swallowing, speech, oral hygiene, and facial structure can all suffer as a result of poor tongue position.
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How to Become a Better Nose Breather
All of these health problems caused by a mouth breathing habit can be reversed with a little determination. There are a few methods that will do the trick. Some combination of the following tips is best, and remember that it will likely take a fair bit of time to see results.
Make Yourself Aware
It takes some getting used to to realize when you have your mouth shut and your tongue in the right place. If you point out that someone is mouth breathing, they are probably going to be surprised. The first step to stop mouth breathing is to be more mindful of when you are doing so, stop, and intentionally begin nose breathing instead.
If you find that you can’t force yourself into nose breathing because you can’t seem to get enough air in through your nasal airway, you may have another health problem that is preventing you from nose breathing. Check with an ear, nose, and throat specialist as soon as you can to find out what’s going on.
Try Breathing Exercises
Two main breathing techniques can help stop mouth breathing. They’re called humming and nose-clearing, respectively. To practice the humming breathing technique, make sure you have your mouth shut and the tip of your tongue right behind your top front teeth. Softly, without forcing air out, exhale through your nasal airway and make a “hmm” sound. Next, inhale and repeat the process.
If you are unable to do the humming breathing technique, your nasal passages may be blocked. You can clear them with this next breathing exercise. Sit in a chair and close your mouth. Try breathing in gently through your nose. If it’s completely blocked, breathe through almost-closed lips. Inhale and then exhale for a second longer.
Hold on after the exhale and pinch your nose closed. When you need to breathe again, open your nostrils. Pinch them closed after each exhale. Try this breathing exercise a few times a day for about ten minutes each time until your nasal passages are cleared.
Change the Pace of Your Workout:
If you find yourself mouth breathing too frequently during a workout, try to bring the intensity down until you’re able to breathe through your nose instead. This will also help you exercise at a pace your body can handle. Remember, having to breathe through your mouth now and then is fine if you’re doing an intense workout. If you find yourself panting for breath and mouth breathing for a long time after a routine, check with an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
Use Saline and Other Medications
Depending on what’s causing your restricted air movement, you might be able to stop mouth breathing with a saline spray or antihistamine medications. There are also some other therapeutic options and masks that can be worn during sleep to prevent mouth breathing. If you’ve tried all the other options, it might take a while to find out the best option for stopping your mouth breathing. Be patient so you and your doctor can find the best way for you to stop mouth breathing.
Change How You Sleep
If you notice frequent dry mouth, sore throat, snoring, or sleep apnea, you might be mouth breathing in your sleep. Try to sleep on your back and with your head elevated above your heart to make breathing easier and stop mouth breathing altogether. It won’t happen right away, but it will help. Some medical devices can help you keep your mouth shut while you sleep. It will quickly reduce the occurrence of dry mouth and sore throat in the morning.
As the name implies, mouth taping involves taping your mouth shut. Most people who rely on mouth taping to stop mouth breathing do so at night and remove the tape in the morning. If you have the ability and it doesn’t impede your daily routine, you can also try mouth taping for short increments of time during the day. If you spend lots of time on the computer, consider mouth taping for short intervals a few times a day.
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Rid Your House of Allergens
At different times of the year, our houses can become filled with dust motes, pollen, and other irritants that frequently cause mouth breathing. Changing air filters and ensuring a constant airflow through or throughout the house might solve your mouth breathing problem. An antihistamine could speed up the process as well.
If you snore, it could be a sign of larger problems. Of course, some people snore because of their sleeping position or the way the airflow in their body works. But it could also indicate the presence of some other conditions and lead to bigger problems like sleep apnea. People who snore almost always find it hard to quit because they’re unconscious while they do it. There are therapies and medical tools you can use to get rid of your snore.
When you’re under stress, you’re more likely to rely on mouth breathing. It gets a larger quantity of oxygen into your lungs faster. Anyone who exercises regularly knows that after a good run, we tend to have to catch our breath. During that period, mouth breathing is typically the method used. However, outside of these periods of high stress or aerobic exercise, mouth breathing can have adverse effects on posture, energy levels, the central nervous system, and overall oral health including dental health.
Interruptions or irregularities in one’s breathing pattern can even lead indirectly to health problems like high blood pressure, frequent hyperventilation, and a decreased ability in the immune system. It might seem impossible to stop mouth breathing once you’ve developed the habit, but once you are aware of the problem it becomes much easier. There are a few key steps to stop mouth breathing. As with many physical fitness and health goals, mindfulness is key.
People with chronic conditions like obstructive sleep apnea or swollen tonsils are more likely to have problems with mouth breathing, especially while they’re asleep. Many others without such conditions also have chronic mouth breathing problems because of their sleeping posture or position. This is a great area to concentrate on if you discover you’ve built up a mouth breathing habit that is seemingly without cause.
If you suffer from nasal congestion or have trouble inhaling and exhaling through your nasal passages, your body will probably start mouth breathing automatically. There are times when the body just needs more oxygen in the lungs quickly and mouth breathing can be used to do so, but chronic mouth breathing can cause many health problems that the majority of people don’t know about.
Nasal breathing, on the other hand, has tons of health benefits. Nitric oxide is generated in the nose and passed into the rest of the body by breathing through the nasal passages. Nasal breathing also boosts pulmonary performance, the immune system, and opens up blood vessels. Once you realize you have a mouth breathing problem, there are a few different ways you can try to get rid of it. Try out some of the tactics discussed in this guide and you should be reaping the benefits of nasal breathing in no time.
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