Nasal breathing involves inhaling and exhaling air through the nostrils. The nose serves several important functions when it comes to breathing:
- Filtration: The nasal passages are lined with tiny hairs and mucus-producing cells that help trap and filter out particles like dust, allergens, and microbes from the inhaled air.
- Humidification: The nasal passages add moisture to the air, preventing the respiratory tract from becoming too dry and irritated.
- Warming: The nasal passages warm the incoming air to a temperature closer to that of the body, which is important for optimal lung function and overall comfort.
- Nitric Oxide Production: Nitric oxide, a beneficial gas, is produced in the nasal passages. It helps dilate blood vessels, improves oxygen uptake in the blood, and has antimicrobial properties.
- Regulation of Airflow: The nostrils and nasal passages can adjust the airflow to match the body’s needs, such as during physical activity when more air is required.
Mouth breathing involves inhaling and exhaling air through the mouth. While it’s a natural response in situations where nasal breathing is restricted, chronic mouth breathing can have some health implications:
- Reduced Filtration: Mouth breathing bypasses the filtration system of the nasal passages, allowing larger particles and potential pathogens to enter the respiratory system more easily.
- Drying: Mouth breathing can lead to a dry mouth and throat, which may contribute to bad breath, dental issues, and discomfort.
- Altered Air Quality: The air entering through the mouth is not humidified or warmed as effectively as with nasal breathing, potentially irritating the respiratory tract.
- Less Nitric Oxide: Since nitric oxide is primarily produced in the nasal passages, mouth breathing may lead to lower levels of this beneficial gas in the body.
- Less Efficient Breathing: Nasal breathing provides greater resistance to airflow, allowing for more efficient oxygen exchange in the lungs. Mouth breathing can disrupt this balance.
Mouth breathing can be caused by any number of health issues including nasal congestion, sleep disorders, tongue ties, chronic inflammation of the nasal passages (Chronic Rhinitis), anatomical abnormalities like enlarged tonsils and deviated septums, and even stress and anxiety. It’s important to address the underlying causes of chronic mouth breathing, as it can lead to health problems over time.
For optimal respiratory health, most people are advised to prioritize nasal breathing whenever possible. If you have concerns about your breathing habits, contact us today for an evaluation.