Human beings are the only mammals that choose to mouth breathe. Wait a second, after a long run, my dog breathes with his tongue hanging out of his mouth. Dogs hang their tongues our for temperature control, humans control our temperature through our skin, its called thermoregulation. Don’t believe me? Watch the Kentucky Derby. Those beautiful horses are flying around the track with their noses flared wide. Not one has their mouth open to breathe. Horses can be smarter than humans sometimes.
When we breathe through our mouth, the dirty air rushes to the back of our throat overwhelming the very delicate tonsil and adenoids tissue that is meant for fine cleansing. This irritates our tonsils and could lead to swelling and closing of the throat and airway. In addition, our eustation tubes lie directly behind the palatine tonsils. How many children have you seen that are mouth breathers that have chronic ear and throat infections? Coincidence? Then the air passes directly into the lungs and gets sent throughout the body for oxygen delivery. Unfortunately the quality of air from mouth breathing is like drinking water from 200 year old pipes that hasn’t been filtered. It’s risky.
Research has linked mouth breathing to many different health conditions from asthma, ADHD, obesity, poor cognitive performance just to name a few. The sooner we identify mouth breathers and eliminate the habit, they healthier you will become.
The nose is the only opening in our body that is directly connected to a vital delicate organ, our lungs. It is designed to provide clean, humidified oxygen rich air to our body that is used for fuel. It is also designed to eliminate carbon dioxide that is produced by metabolism. There are an ever increasing number of pollutents in the air that are of serious health concern. Our nose provides some level of protection against this. At the entrance of our nose we have little hairs that filter out large debris from the air. Then the air passes through the turbinates where is gets humidified, cooled or warmed depending on the situation. Nitric oxide is produced through the paranasal sinuses which further disinfects the air in addition to opening blood vessels to allow better absorption of oxygen. The filtered air then passes over the adenoids and tonsils for fine cleansing and is now prepared for our lungs to be circulated throughout our brain and body.
What are some the signs that I am a mouth breather?
1. Can others hear you breathing. Breathing should be quiet, in and out of the nose at rest.
2. Are you lips open at rest?
3. Do you snore.
4. Is your mouth dry in the morning, are you drooling on your pillow
5. Does your tongue rest between or against your teeth.
6. Do you have shortness of breath, poor endurance
7. Are you always cold., hands, feet, cold sweats
8. Do you have trouble whistling?
What can I do if I’m a mouth breather?
1. Make a conscious effort to gently seal your lips, keep your teeth apart, tongue on the roof of the mouth and breath slowly in and out of your nose for 10 minutes a day. You can add this to a meditation routine.
2. Hum with your lips sealed – this increases nitric oxide production in your sinuses which helps promotes nasal clearing and ease of breath
3. Practice keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth as much as possible. Try to breath through your mouth this way. It’s not possible…
4. Eliminate any foods or known allergies that could be causing congestion.
5. Stay well hydrated which helps reduce congestion.
6. Exercise regularly and try to nasal breath as much as possible during exercise. Especially during the inhale, make sure it is through the nose.
If you continue to struggle with nasal breathing, there may be an underlying condition that requires further evaluation.