Many people are affected by mouth breathing without being aware of it. Often they can also breathe through their nose, but change their breathing at low levels of stress and during sleep.
Breathing supplies our cells with oxygen
With about 25,000 breaths a day, adults supply themselves with sufficient amounts of vital oxygen. Breathing takes place automatically without any health impairments. Rhythm and control are regulated by the brain stem, the oldest brain region in the history of development. Via the accesses of nose and mouth we absorb the oxygen-containing breathing air. It reaches the lungs and over more than 300 million tiny alveoli into the blood and further into the cells of the body.
Front line of the airways
It is by no means irrelevant whether the oxygen reaches the respiratory tract via the mouth or nose. Everyone feels that good smelling is directly related to the flow of air through the nose. It is also known that the breathing air in contact with the mucous membrane of the nose is cleaned, warmed and moistened. With its own protective function against allergies and life-threatening diseases, it is regarded as the “front line of the airways”. The mucous membrane mechanism supports the immune system. Viruses, bacteria, pollen or fungi are fended off. The nasal mucus binds pathogens, dirt and pollutants that enter the nose with the air we breathe. They are either blown out of the nose or swallowed and destroyed in the stomach.
Oral breathing is harmful to health
In contrast to the positive health effects of nasal breathing, mouth breathing only has harmful effects. Breathing air enters the lungs unfiltered. Bacteria and viruses reach the oral cavity directly. They damage teeth and gums and cause allergies. Brain researchers have also found effects on thinking and concentration performance and even a connection to the development of dementia and inflammatory diseases in the body is suspected.
Exercise therapy provides relief
You can’t get rid of harmful breathing with good intentions. Only special exercise programmes that are used over a longer period of time are suitable for this purpose. The small expenditure is worthwhile itself however. The air passages through the nose improve and natural breathing through the nose is also successful during sleep. A successful recipe against allergies, snoring and nocturnal breathing stops.
The original contribution appeared on 30.03.219 in the magazine supplement “Allergies & respiratory tract”.
Until 30 April the article can also be read on the mediplanet website Luft und Lunge (Air and Lungs).