Did you know why mouth breathing is bad? Mouthbreathers are habituated to inhale and exhale using their mouth instead of the nose. The human body is capable of inhaling and exhaling air through the nose and mouth however the way you breathe has an impact on your health. The proper way to breathe is through your nose as it humidifies the air before it enters your lungs. In this post, you will discover the causes of mouth breathing and five ways to fix mouth breathing.
Mouth breathing can also be seen as a sign of airway obstruction which could have negative health consequences. On average, we breathe about 20,000 times a day i.e. 12 to 14 breaths per minute. However, mouth breathers take around 20 – 24 breaths per minute which is almost 2 times more air than required. Now the problem is, If you breathe more air than you should, then you exhale excess carbon dioxide which affects cells in your body and hampers your internal systems.
What Causes Mouth Breathing
Why do some people breathe through their mouths? There are times when breathing through the mouth becomes necessary, if you are engaging yourself in a high-intensity workout then mouth breathing will help you to get more oxygen to the body.
There are a number of reasons why someone may be mouth breathing, however, if you develop a habit of breathing through the mouth all the time then it can affect your health and well-being. Here are some common factors which lead to mouth breathing.
1. Getting A Cold
Getting a cold is never much fun. With a blocked nose it does get stuffy and congested. However, if cold or flu persists for a long time then mouth breathing habit can become permanent. To avoid such a situation unblock your blocked nose using a natural nasal spray. You can even use steam to clear your nose as it opens up the nasal passages by expelling the mucus by thinning & loosening it.
2. Allergic Rhinitis
If you are sensitive to pollen, dust mites, animal dander, fumes, and odors then it might lead to runny nose, itching, and sneezing. Allergies can cause upper airway obstruction and rhinitis makes it harder to breathe through the nose. As it becomes difficult to breathe through the nose you tend to resort to mouth breathing.
Individuals with asthma tend to have breathing problems. Usually, when you breathe in air, it moves down the windpipe into the airways of the lungs. However, for people who have asthma, the air has a harder time passing through the airways. This happens because the airways swell and fill with mucus due to which the muscles around the airways tighten it often causes shortness of breath and leads to mouth breathing.
4. Panic Attacks & Anxiety
When you are anxious your breathing tends to become fast and shallow. Instead of filling the lungs with full complete breaths we resort to quick breaths and are more likely to breathe through your mouth. Such an incorrect breathing pattern lowers oxygen levels in the blood which causes more stress.
5. Sleep Apnea
Just like any other muscle in the body, the throat muscles tend to relax as we sleep. During sleep, your throat remains open enough so that air can pass by however some people have narrow throat which tends to block the airway. This stop in breathing is called apnea. Sleep apnea is a medical condition wherein the upper airway in the body gets blocked during the sleep which forces people to breathe through their mouths at night.
Side Effects Of Mouth Breathing
Did you know that human beings are the only creatures on this planet who can sleep with an open mouth and breathe through the mouth? We are designed to be nose breathers but due to various reasons people can develop the habit of mouth breathing and this can have wide-ranging consequences on the growth of the body. Listed below are few negative effects of mouth breathing.
1. Oral Health
Do you think brushing and flossing your teeth every day ensure good oral health? Of course, it does, however, if you have a habit of breathing through your mouth then it can dry out your gums and tissues in your mouth which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. The jaw is forced into an unnatural position for a long period if you breathe through your mouth at night.
2. Hoarse Voice
Mouth breathing can dry out the airways which can cause a sensation of losing your voice. There have been instances wherein mouth breathing has led to changes in speech condition know as a lisp. A lisp affects the rhythm, voice quality, and flow of speech such as stuttering.
3. Bad Breath
If you are embarrassed with bad breath then you must check the way you are breathing. Mouth breathing leads to dry mouth, which means there is not much saliva in your mouth which can wash the bacteria from the mouth, which causes the bacteria to grow on the tongue and results in bad breath. Hence, in order to control bad breath, you need to drink lots of water and change the way you breathe.
4. Facial Deformations
The facial deformity is possible in young children who during their growing years develop the habit of mouth breathing. Mouth breathing affects the bones and jaw structure of young children. There is also a risk of jaw surgery later in life for individuals who breathe excessively during their formative years.
5. Noisy Eater
Mouth breathing can make you a noisy eater. This can be quite annoying to the people around you at the dinner table. As it is difficult to breathe through the mouth while eating hence as you chew your food people around you may hear breathing sounds coming directly from your mouth.
How To Fix Mouth Breathing
Excessive mouth breathing can take a toll on your health especially when you may not be aware that you are doing it out of habit. It is important to break the cycle of mouth breathing as your mouth is not an optimal channel for breathing. Here are five ways you can use to fix mouth breathing.
1. Clear Your Nose
If your nose is blocked from a cold or allergy then clear your nasal passage using nasal sprays. Before you use a nasal spray ensure you clear your nose by blowing it and then spray the solution into your nose. You can even inhale steam before going to bed to loosen nasal congestion.
Nose Unblocking Exercise
- Sit on a chair with your back straight.
- Breathe through your nose, take some small breaths. Inhale for a count of two and breathe out for a count of three. If you have a heavy cold then use a nasal spray or steam to loosen nasal congestion. Ensure you keep your mouth closed and use your nose to breathe in and out.
- Pinch your nose and hold your breath. Keep your mouth closed.
- Hold your nose until you feel a strong need for air. Increase the pressure at the back of your nose by gently trying to blow through your nose while still holding it closed. Don’t blow out your cheeks and keep this pressure for a count of five.
- Let go of your nose and breathe gently through it, do not use your mouth. Don’t take deep breaths, simply calm your breathing, and focus on relaxation.
- Continue this exercise until you can breathe through your nose fully. You may need to repeat this exercise for about 5 to 6 until your nose is totally unblocked.
2. Using A Nasal or Mouth Strip or Chin Strap As You Sleep
You can use a nasal strip over the bridge of your nose to clear your nasal passages while you sleep. Using mouth strips as a masking tape that attaches to your lips and keeps them closed to prevent mouth breathing while you sleep. These days, you also find a chin strap, which you can wrap it over the top of your head under the chin. This also helps to keep your mouth closed as you sleep and promotes breathing through your nose.
3. Exercise Regularly
Did you know that exercising impacts your breathing? Try to get a 30-minute exercise routine every day, it can be a highly intensive workout or yoga, or even walking around the neighborhood. As you exercise it increases your need for deep breaths and this can help your nose. As your nose is continuously put to work it naturally takes the breathing responsibility away from your mouth.
4. Meet A Therapist
Meeting an ear, nose, and throat specialist or a dentist will help in determining the source of mouth breathing habit. Sometimes it can be oversized tonsils or the position of your jaw, teeth, or a deviated septum. Conduct an allergy test to find out why does your nose gets blocked often. So go ahead schedule a check-up if you are persistently bothered by your mouth breathing habit and seek an appropriate remedy.
5. Reduces Stress By Adopting Breathing Exercises
Stress is a primary reason if you are experiencing shortness of breath. When we are stressed we often neglect using our nose for effective breathing. Incorporating deep breathing exercises can help in oxygenating your body with fresh air and improving the function of your lungs. It just takes a few minutes of your day to improve the way you breathe by setting up breathing practice.