• Alizah Shahar SLP/OMT

The 5 Benefits of Nose Breathing during COVID19

Updated: Apr 24


The COVID-19 epidemic has been a life-changing experience for the entire world. It is a time in which you reflect on yourself, loved ones, neighbors, etc. It literally has slowed the world down to stop, think, and breathe. During this time I was thinking about some of my clients, my kids, my friends, and how susceptible we are to any virus, cold, infection when we are breathing through our mouth and not with our primary source of breath, our nose. The nose is a vital and much-underrated organ. “The role of the nose in health and in respiration has been greatly neglected by physicians.” (Timmons and Ley, 1994, p 47). Unless we suffer from a bad cold, we don't realize how important our nose is to our well being.

A Sanskrit Proverb says "For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on the earth." An estimated one-third of people don't breathe well enough to sustain normal health. These people do not get enough oxygen to their cells, tissues, and organs (Ruth, Alan MD (April 23, 2020, The health benefits of nose breathing, Nursing in General Practice: Clinical Review). According to a British doctor, Dr. Safarz Munshi from Queens Hospital in London, he urged patients to use nasal breathing exercises is essential right at the start of coronavirus infection or even before any symptoms begin (Pawlowski, A (April 7, 2020), This breathing technique may help coronavirus patients feel better, Today, today.com). I have come across so many clients who are mouth breathers but think they are nose breathers. After an evaluation, they realize quickly how they are mostly a mouth breather. It has been estimated that up to 30-50% of adults breathe through the mouth, especially during the early morning hours (Ruth, Alan MD, (April 23, 2020, The health benefits of nose breathing, Nursing in General Practice: Clinical Review). Mouth breathing is only a secondary source of breathing and it is our emergency exit when our nasal passages are obstructed. It should never be our primary source of breath because the purpose of the mouth is for chewing, swallowing, and speaking.


Now during Covid19 we cannot rely on assumption and we must know if we are properly using our nasal passages for breathing. So before we begin nasal breathing exercises we should understand the purpose of our nose and the benefits of its function.

The Five Benefits to Nasal Breathing


1. Helps Fight Infections

We were created with a natural filtration system through our nose. When we breathe through our nose it creates

Nitric Oxide which kills deadly bacteria.

One of nitric oxide's function is its involvement in immune cell signaling and in biochemical reactions by which immune cells defend against bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites (Schairer, Chouake, Nosanchuk, & Friedman, May 2012, The potential of nitric oxide-releasing therapies as antimicrobial agents, Virulence, 27).

2. Increases Blood Flow & Lung Volumes

Nasal breathing increases circulation, blood oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung volumes (Swift, Campbell, McKown, 1988, Oronasal obstruction, lung volumes, and arterial oxygenation - Lancet 1, 73-75) When there is proper oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange during respiration, the blood will maintain a balanced pH. Most diseases, illnesses, and bad bacteria thrive in an over-acidic environment. When pH levels are unbalanced, it is mostly in the case of being too acidic.

3. Maintains Body Temperature

Nasal breathing allows the passing of air into our lungs to become more like body temperature which is much better tolerated by our tissues and organs. Since humans spend more time living under their body temperature of 98.6 degrees, warm cooling air is more common for us to breath (7 Surprising Facts About Your Nose, Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials, clevelandclinic.org). Once cool warming air hits our face, that's when we can experience the common cold, virus, etc. especially if we are mouth breathers. Mouth breathing does not have the natural filtration and ability to create nitric oxide. Our mouth's primary purpose is to eat, drink, swallow, and speak. It puts a new perspective on what happens when we function out of our purpose.

4. Improves Brain Function

Nasal breathing provides 50% more resistance to airflow benefits the function of your lungs, heart, and biochemistry to your brain (Wollan, Malia, April 23, 2019, How to be a nose breather, New York Times, nytimes.com). According to a study, nasal airflow can influence brain activity with reports of improved cognitive function (Price and Eccles,(Sep 1, 2016) Nasal Airflow and Brain Activity: Is there a link?, J Laryngol Otol. ). Data in a study revealed that treatment with nasal breathing to improve sleep in children with ADHD also significantly changed the symptoms of the typical electrophysiological features in ADHD (Swift, Campbell, McKown, 1988, Oronasal obstruction, lung volumes, and arterial oxygenation - Lancet 1, 73-75).

5. Influences Facial Development

The most common facial development abnormalities seen today are caused by the inability to properly breathe through your nose. Individuals who cannot breathe through their primary airway will use their secondary emergency airway, their mouth. When nasal breathing is compromised the upper jaw and mid-face fail to develop at a normal rate which directly impacts facial balance and symmetry. Mouth breathing leads to a chain of events that can severely impact facial features and looks such as having overbites, crowded teeth, loud and obnoxious chews and swallows, speech impediments, poor digestion that can lead to weight gain. Poor nasal breathing, excessive mouth breathing, and poor tongue posture can trigger abnormal facial features which affect confidence and self-esteem.


So before you research online for breathing exercises

which will only treat a symptom, schedule a Free Consultation at TASL Speech Therapy Consultants. We at TASL are a team of expert myofunctional speech therapists that will screen for breathing and oral habits which may overtime result in abnormal dentofacial development as well as evaluate proper development of the jaw, tongue position, swallowing mechanism, speech sound production, and harmony of the face. By working with the natural growth instead of against it we can prevent problems from the beginning, or becoming worse.

Schedule a Free Consultation


References

  • (7 Surprising Facts About Your Nose, Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials, clevelandclinic.org)

  • Pawlowski, A (April 7, 2020), This breathing technique may help coronavirus patients feel better, Today, today.com

  • Price and Eccles,(Sep 1, 2016) Nasal Airflow and Brain Activity: Is there a link?, J Laryngol Otol.

  • Timmons and Ley, 1994, p 47

  • Ruth, Alan MD(April 23, 2020, The health benefits of nose breathing, Nursing in General Practice: Clinical Review

  • (Schairer, Chouake, Nosanchuk, & Friedman, May 2012, The potential of nitric oxide releasing therapies as antimicrobial agents, Virulence, 27).

  • (Swift, Campbell, McKown, 1988, Oronasal obstruction, lung volumes, and arterial oxygenation - Lancet 1, 73-75)

  • (Wollan, Malia, April 23, 2019, How to be a nose breather, New York Times, nytimes.com)

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