Autumn 2013 True Natural Health Magazine – Your Questions Answered
By Roger French


QUESTION:   I believe it is important to breathe through the nose rather than the mouth. Could you please elaborate on this?



Breathing through the nose is essential. Here are the many reasons why.

Because the nostrils are smaller then the mouth, air exhaled through the nose creates back pressure when we exhale. This slows the emission of air, so the lungs have more time to extract oxygen. A study found that nose breathing results in an increase in oxygen uptake of 10 – 20 percent.

Further, this nasal resistance is essential to maintain adequate elasticity of the lungs.

With proper exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, the blood will maintain a more balanced acid-alkali level (pH). Mouth breathing ejects carbon dioxide too quickly and oxygen absorption is decreased.

Another remarkable benefit of nose breathing involves the gas, nitric oxide, which is produced by the nasal sinuses. The inflowing air picks up this gas and takes it down to the lungs where it potently dilates blood vessels and enhances the uptake of oxygen.

The turbinate bone is scroll shaped and extends along the nasal cavity. It is covered with blood-rich mucous membrane and fine hairs which warm and humidify the air and trap bacteria and other foreign particles.  

As air is inhaled, it is warmed a little by the turbinate bones, but these bones become cooler. In the lungs, the air is warmed further, and as it is breathed out back through the turbinate bones, it warms these bones ready for the next breath. In cold weather, this is particularly important.

With mouth breathing, the air is not warmed by the turbinate bones, and the lungs are repeatedly cooled by the incoming cold air. This on one occasion caused me to gasp for air. If inhaling is through the nose and exhaling is through the mouth, the turbinate bones are not warmed by the out breath, and each succeeding breath makes them colder and colder.

When a person breathes through the mouth, the air will not be humidified or filtered or have the proper amount of nitric oxide mixed with it, and the body will not be fully oxygenated.

If mouth breathing is habitual, it can result in moderate hypertension and reduced heart output. Other possible manifestations include snoring, sleep apnoea, headaches, bed wetting, chronic ear or sinus infections, exacerbated asthma, more frequent common colds, sleep disorders and dark patches under the eyes.

Mouth breathing during waking hours carries over into sleep. During sleep, it is a primary cause of loud snoring.

Mouth breathing also severely compromises the sense of smell. A keen sense of smell is very important for enjoying life and for safety.

Mouth breathing can be especially detrimental in children, who may suffer abnormal facial and dental development and sleeping problems. The result can be poor academic performance, which is often misdiagnosed as ADHD.