Nose breathing and mouth breathing are two major techniques of inhaling air. However, it was seen that breathing through the nose can offer more benefits than breathing through the mouth and the latter may lead to other problems as well. The following discusses the differences of nose breathing and mouth breathing and how to optimize the breathing process.
When we breathe, the air normally goes into the nose down to the windpipe and into the lungs. A normal person usually uses this mechanism and rarely uses the mouth to breathe. The following are some of the advantages of nose breathing:
- Helps filter the air
The nasal cavity contains thousands of hair called cilia that help filter the air we breathe. The atmosphere contains millions of microorganisms and microscopic elements that can go into our system unknowingly. If we use nose breathing, the defense mechanism of the tiny hair traps the microscopic objects to prevent them from going into the lungs. On the exact opposite, mouth breathing doesn’t have this mechanism allowing some of the impurities in the air to enter our system. You can observe the protective effects of the nasal hair at the end of the day. If you clean your nose, you can see brown to black residues, which signifies the pollution trapped in them. You would not want to inhale all of these, right?
- Helps moisten and warm the air we breathe
The nasal cavity also has moisturizing effects leaving the oxygen moistened before it enters the windpipe. In mouth breathing, you rarely moisten the air leading to dry mouth and oral mucosa.
- Ensures better ventilation
Not all oxygen that is inhaled is absorbed in the lungs. This is because as we exhale, some of the oxygen also escapes. During nose breathing, the flow of air out of the nose during exhalation is prolonged allowing the lungs to absorb more oxygen for cellular oxygenation.
- Regulates breathing better
The nerves that regulate breathing are found in the nasal cavity. When one breathes through the nose, it sends a stimulus to the nerves to allow the central nervous system to regulate breathing better. Mouth breathing bypasses these nerves leading to possible apnea or short-term cessation of breathing at night. This is known as sleep apnea.
Aside from the disadvantages of mouth breathing discussed above, it can also lead to possible negative effects such as:
- Encourages more mucus production
Mouth breathers almost always have productive cough or some sort of airway obstruction. This is due to the fact that the central nervous system thinks that the carbon dioxide is being exhaled too quickly. This stimulates the sputum producing cells in the lungs to produce more mucus secretion.
- Increases incidences of upper airway resistance syndrome
Mouth breathing can also lead to airway obstruction that can manifest as frequent snoring. Frequent snoring is a risk for sleep apnea and heart attack.
Mouth breathing may also lead to a poor bite, under eye circles and overall poor sleep pattern.
The normal anatomy of the body indicates that breathing should be done through the nose. Any deviation from which can lead to many negative effects. If you or one of your family members seems to be using mouth breathing, consult your medical provider for proper diagnosis.