Mouth breathing can impact your health. If you never thought about it, you are not alone. Most people, even some healthcare professionals, are not aware of how important proper nasal respiration is. Your nose is the first line of defense for your respiratory system. It filters and humidifies the air you breathe. People that breathe through their mouth may face negative health effects.

What causes someone to breathe through the mouth?

Mouth breathing can be attributed to many things. It can be caused by stress and anxiety, by the shape of one’s nose or jaw, congestion brought on by allergies or illness, enlarged tonsils, nasal polyps, adenoids, or simply feeling out of breath.

Why is mouth breathing bad?

Nasal respiration is essential because it produces nitric oxide. Nitric oxide increases oxygen efficiency, blood oxygen, and arterial oxygen tension. Dr. Heidi Dickerson points out that a lack of nitric oxide is linked to many health issues such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Nasal breathing, and even breathing techniques such as humming, increases nitric oxide production. Your nose was specifically designed to help you breathe and therefore has many advantages. When you breathe through your mouth, your lungs do not receive all of the benefits. Mouth breathing causes bad breath, poor sleep, early aging, gum disease, and high blood pressure in adults. According to Healthline, mouth breathing can lead to crooked teeth, facial deformities, or poor growth in children. Once you get in the habit of mouth breathing, it can be very difficult to stop. Intervention may be required.

How can I stop?

There is nothing more essential to our health than breathing, so it is important to breathe correctly. If you are a mouth breather and want to break the habit, you can see a myofunctional therapist or an ear, nose, and throat doctor. They can help you figure out root of your mouth breathing problem and will be able to suggest the right treatment.

Some things you can try on your own to break the habit:

  1. Stop eating before bed – It can cause congestion and inflammation that can lead to mouth breathing.
  2. Change the way you sleep – Your sleeping habits can be the cause of your mouth breathing. Try switching your sleeping position. Try sleeping on your left side and get a pillow that properly lifts your head.
  3. Practice nose breathing – Practice makes perfect! Pay close attention to the way you breathe throughout the day and try to intentionally stop yourself from mouth breathing.
  4. Exercise – Learning to breathe through your nose while exercising will help make your breathing more efficient and effective, meaning you will not need to breathe as fast and your body will have time to replenish oxygen to your bloodstream.
  5. Practice stress relief – Stress can cause you to mouth breathe, because stress makes you take shallow breaths which in turn makes you breathe too fast. Stress relief, such as meditating, will help you become more relaxed and focus on your breathing. Working on stress relief practices will help you maintain a healthy nasal breathing habit.

The takeaway

Mouth breathing can worsen symptoms of lung health problems and cause you to fall into a difficult and unhealthy breathing cycle. Try to retrain yourself to breathe through your nose properly. Focus on your breathing by doing breathing exercises. If you cannot stop mouth breathing on your own, seek professional help.