Mouth Breathing: Symptoms, Complications, and Treatments

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  • Source: Healthline
  • 09/17/2021

When is it OK to breathe through your mouth?

Breathing provides your body with the oxygen it needs to survive. It also allows you to release carbon dioxide and waste.
You have two air passageways to your lungs — the nose and the mouth. Healthy people use both their nose and their mouth to breathe.
Breathing through the mouth only becomes necessary when you have nasal congestion due to allergies or a cold. Also, when you are exercising strenuously, mouth breathing can help get oxygen to your muscles faster.
Even so, breathing through the mouth all the time, including when you’re sleeping, can lead to problems.
In children, mouth breathing can cause crooked teeth, facial deformities, or poor growth. In adults, chronic mouth breathing can cause bad breath and gum disease. It can also worsen symptoms of other illnesses.

What are the advantages of breathing through your nose?

The importance of your nose often goes unnoticed — until you have a bad cold. A stuffed-up nose can reduce your quality of life. It can also affect your ability to sleep well and function in general.
The nose produces nitric oxide, which improves your lungs’ ability to absorb oxygen.
Nitric oxide increases the ability to transport oxygen throughout your body, including inside your heart. It relaxes vascular smooth muscle and allows blood vessels to dilate.
Nitric oxide is also antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antibacterial. It helps the immune system to fight infections.

Advantages of nose breathing

  • The nose acts as a filter and retains small particles in the air, including pollen.
  • The nose adds moisture to the air to prevent dryness in the lungs and bronchial tubes.
  • The nose warms up cold air to body temperature before it gets to your lungs.
  • Nose breathing adds resistance to the air stream. This increases oxygen uptake by maintaining the lungs’ elasticity.

How do I know if I am breathing through my mouth?

You may not realize that you’re breathing through your mouth instead of your nose, especially while you sleep. People who breathe through their mouth at night may have the following symptoms:
  • snoring
  • dry mouth
  • bad breath (halitosis)
  • hoarseness
  • waking up tired and irritable
  • chronic fatigue
  • brain fog
  • dark circles under the eyes

Symptoms in children

For parents, it’s important to look for signs of mouth breathing in their children.
A child may not be able to communicate their symptoms. Like adults, children who are mouth breathers will breathe with their mouth open and will snore at night. Children who breathe through their mouths for most of the day may also have the following symptoms:
  • slower than normal growth rate
  • irritability
  • increased crying episodes at night
  • large tonsils
  • dry, cracked lips
  • problems concentrating at school
  • daytime sleepiness
Children who exhibit problems concentrating at school are often misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or hyperactivity.
Read the full article: Healthline
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