Breathing Techniques for Asthma

What is Breathing Education?  It is changing mouth breathing to nasal breathing and teaching a more ideal breathing technique.

Establishing the proper way to breathe has shown to be efficacious in helping improve a number of breathing related problems including:

  • Respiratory: asthma, rhinitis, hayfever
  • Neurological: anxiety, stress and panic attacks
  • Childhood development: dental health, craniofacial development and ADHD

Our bodies were designed to breathe through our nose.

Nose Breathing is Optimal

We have heard the professionals, and most of the research points to it – breathing through your nose is the correct and most optimal way for you to breathe.

What do you think is the purpose of the nose if it is not for breathing?

Your nose is a specifically designed organ and a part of our respiratory system.  Just because you can take air in and out of your mouth as well does not make your nose redundant.

Did you know that our bodies are designed for nose breathing?

The mechanisms through which we inhale and exhale through nose breathing,  correctly as well as consistently,  has numerous health benefits.  Here a just a few of them:

Nose Breathing Helps Fight Infections

When you breathe in through your nose, the air is warmed, moistened, conditioned and mixed with nitric oxide which does two important functions – it kills deadly bacteria and works as a vasodilator on the airways, your arteries and capillaries.

Our body has a gene that stimulates the nose’s receptors when you breathe through your nose which reacts with the chemicals that bacteria in the air use to communicate.  It stimulates nitric oxide that kills the bacteria so you breathe in a relatively less infectious air.

Nose Breathing Ensures Better Blood Flow and Lung Volumes

The vasodilation by nitric oxide increases the surface area of alveoli, where oxygen is absorbed in the very end of bronchial tubes, which means more oxygen is absorbed more efficiently when you breathe through your nose.

Nasal breathing (as opposed to mouth breathing) increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung volumes.

Nasal Breathing Helps in Maintaining Body Temperature

The internal nose not only provides around 90% of the respiratory system air-conditioning requirement but also recovers around 33% of exhaled heat and moisture.

It Helps in Better Brain Functions

The hypothalamus, also know as the Brain’s brain, is responsible for many functions in our bodies, particularly those that we consider automatic:  heartbeat, blood pressure, thirst, appetite, and the cycles of sleeping and waking.  The hypothalamus is also responsible for generating chemicals that influence memory and emotion.

The nasal cycle, which is part of an overall body cycle, is controlled by the hypothalamus.  Sympathetic dominance on one side ocauses nasal vasoconstriction of the ipsilateral turbinate, while parasympathetic dominance on the other causes nasal vasoconstriction of the contralateral turbinate.  Increased airflow through the right nostril is correlated to increased left brain activity and enhanced verbal performance: whereas increased airflow through the left nostril is associated with increased right brain activity and enhanced spatial performance.

Breathing through the nose also limits air intake and forces one to SLOW down.  Proper nose breathing reduces hypertension and stress for most people.  Kind of like a speed control (governor) on a car engine.

It Helps During Your Workouts

The lungs are a primary source of our energy level.  they extract oxygen from the air we breathe primarily on the exhale.  When you exhale through small nostrils compared to your mouth, a back-pressure is created and exhaled air is restricted and slow down, which is exactly the time lungs use to absorb more oxygen.

It slows the air escape so the lungs have more time to extract oxygen from them.  When there is proper oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange, the blood will maintain a balanced pH.  Our oxygen uptake happens mostly during the restricted exhale through the nose.

If carbon dioxide is lost too quickly, as in mouth breathing, oxygen absorption is decreased.  If you want a better performance during exercise, you have to stop over-breathing or hyperventilation – a.k.a. mouth breathing.

Nose breathing imposes approximately 50% more resistance to the air stream in normal individuals than does mouth breathing, resulting in 10-20% more oxygen uptake.

Close Your Mouth and Breathe

If you breathe through your mouth, you bypass many important stages in the breathing process and this could lead to many health problems, like snoring, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, malocclusion (crooked teeth) and sleep apnea in adults and children.

Deadly Bacteria Have a Free Entry Through Mouth Breathing

Your nose is the only organ which is enabled to properly “prepare” the air you breathe.  As scary as it may sound, our nose is home to more than 50 species of bacteria – both good and bad – and unfortunately, there are more bad than good ones.  But the good news is that the small number of good ones can fight it with the bad ones within the nose itself, saving us from ingesting a lot of bad bacteria at the first stage of breathing-inhalation.

If you bypass your nose and breathe through your mouth, there is no stopping the bad bacteria to reach inside your body.

The lessening of the common cold is another good reason for nose breathing.  The mucous (white blood cells that kill germs) membrane lining the nose extends all the way from the inner linings of the nostrils down the trachea to the bronchi then directly enters the lungs.  Germs get caught and die in the mucus.  Mouth breathing will make you more susceptible to common cold and infections.

Mouth Breathing Weakens Your Lungs, Heart and a Lot More

Some researchers have pointed out how mouth breathing and associated hyperventilation causes and exacerbates asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease and other medical problems.

Breathing through your mouth causes depleted carbon dioxide levels, reduces blood circulation, slows down your brain and reflexes and even causes spells of dizziness and sometimes unconsciousness.  Chronic mouth breathing also causes the muscles that open the sidewalls of the nose to weaken causing narrowing of airways.

When you breathe with the mouth or over-breathe, the lungs are overstimulated with oxygen but the airways become dried and vaso-constricted, so an inefficient amount of oxygen is actually absorbed through the alveoli in the lungs.

By breathing through your mouth, you are failing your heart, brain and all other organs by denying optimal oxygenation.  Even though you may have no cardiac disease symptoms, you may develop arrhythmias and other heart ailments.

Mouth Breathing is an Open Invitation to Snoring or Sleep Apnea

Our nasal passages have afferent stimuli, the nerves that regulate breathing.  When inhaled air passes through the nose, nasal mucosa carries the stimuli to reflex nerves that control breathing.  When you breathe through your mouth you bypass nasal mucosa and it predisposes you to loud snoring and irregular breathing.  Snoring is a precursor to sleep apnea.

Mouth Breathing Can Affect Your Appearance

Mouth breathing can produce an anterior open bite, a longer face and some suggest that because of poor sleep quality produces a baggy appearance under the eyes.  Mouth breathing also accelerates water loss increasing possible dehydration.

What Can You Do to Break Your Habit of Mouth Breathing?

The first step is to be conscious of how you breathe when you are awake.  Training yourself to nose breathe while awake guides the way you breathe while sleeping.

If you need help in establishing nasal breathing – we can help at Ortho-TMJ-Sleep Centre