Thursday, 12. January 2023
People with chronic or acute respiratory disease often breathe through their mouth. Healthy people also tend to switch from nasal to mouth breathing at even the slightest exertion. This is something everyone should avoid doing.
Because breathing through your nose has many benefits and is healthier than breathing through your mouth.
Your nose has a built in immunological filter function to protect your lungs. Because almost all dirt particles, dust and tiny insects in the air are unable to travel past the tiny hairs in the nostrils. This means they are filtered out at the first step in the respiratory system and cannot reach the deeper areas of the lungs where they could cause harm.
Many of the smaller particles such as bacteria, viruses, fungal spores or flower pollen cannot pass the moist mucosal membranes inside the nose so they are also kept out of the lungs.
Cold outdoor air is warmed by the nose and enters the cold-sensitive lungs at the ideal temperature. Here, the colder the outdoor air, the stronger the blood supply to the mucosal membranes, and the more the air you breathe is heated. This is especially the case in autumn and winter when the temperature is low. In people with chronic lung disease and sensitive bronchial tubes, cold air can trigger tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and the urge to cough.
Breathing through your nose also means that the air your inhale has the ideal moisture content. This is achieved on the one hand by the layer of mucus covering the membranes in the nose and on the other hand, by the branched passages in the nose, through which the air flows.
The nose is also home to the olfactory membranes containing the olfactory receptors. These warn us, for instance, if there is a bad smell that there may be a harmful substance in the air we are breathing. We automatically hold our breath. We can also smell if food has gone off.
The benefits of breathing through your nose already addressed (protecting the bronchial mucosal membrane from drying out, cooling and dirt) reduces the torturous urge to cough.
It is also better to breathe through your nose rather than your mouth during or after exertion. Breathing through your nose helps your breathing to calm sooner. Always try to switch to breathing through your nose as fast as possible, even if you have just exerted yourself and you have to breathe harder – for example after sport, climbing the stairs or similar activities.
Breathing through your nose is healthier than breathing through your mouth. If you always breathe through your mouth (chronic mouth breather), this can damage the mucosal membranes of your airways and lungs. It also means that more contaminants enter the airways, because pathogens are no longer transported away, which increases the risk of lung disease.
If your nose is chronically blocked and you cannot breathe through it, you should see a doctor to find out why.
The following methods can help clear your nose:
Note: The information in this blog post is not a treatment recommendation. The needs of patients vary greatly from person to person. The treatment approaches presented should be viewed only as examples. PARI recommends that patients always consult with their physician or physiotherapist first.
An article written by the PARI BLOG editorial team.