As the number of COVID-19 cases across the United States continues to rise, scientists and researchers are continuously trying to find ways to help control and beat the virus. Research is currently being conducted to determine if nasal breathing can help lower the risk of contracting coronavirus. You may be wondering, why would breathing through your nose be beneficial?
Interestingly, breathing through your nose and mouth are two completely different methods of breathing. Nasal breathing is connected to your diaphragm and signals a response from your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), also known as your rest and digest system. The PNS acts on your heart, lungs, and digestive tract. On the other hand, breathing through your oral cavity signals your sympathetic nervous system (SNS), also known as the fight or flight system. The SNS acts in opposition to the PNS, and instead elevates your pulse and breathing rates, while slowing digestion. Breathing through your nose, rather than your mouth, is the best way to receive the optimal amount of oxygen. Here’s why:
Your nose produces nitric oxide, which helps increase the transport of oxygen throughout your body by allowing your blood vessels to dilate. It also helps relax and open your airways in the lungs, acting as a bronchodilator. Nitric oxide is a huge plus to the immune system too, as it has antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antibacterial effects. In addition, your nasal turbinates function to warm and humidify air as it moves into the lungs, helping to filter and block harmful particles from entering your body.
According to scientists, humming has been found to increase the production of nitrous oxide in the sinus cavities surrounding the nose. Researchers revealed that the sound waves from humming increase the speed of gas exchange, and can help provide some relief for individuals with a sinus infection (Sinusitis). Foods high in nitrates, including leafy green vegetables, beets, and garlic for example, may also increase the concentration of nitrous oxide in the body and provide the same health benefits. In hopes to find treatment and prevention methods against COVID-19, clinical trials have currently begun to investigate the direct application of nitrous oxide to the respiratory system.
It can be hard to breathe through your nose at times, especially when you have sleep apnea, allergies, or are sick and congested, or even when you have your mask on to help fight coronavirus. Having a stuffy nose is a pain, and we often don’t notice how important the nose is until it isn’t functioning properly. When your airway is obstructed, your mouth naturally opens to allow air flow to your lungs. However, breathing through your mouth doesn’t offer the same benefits as nasal breathing, and can even lead to health problems. Breathing through your mouth increases dehydration and inflammation in the body. Mouth breathing can cause enlarged tonsils/adenoids, dry mouth, bad breath (halitosis), chronic fatigue, irritability, dry lips, periodontal disease, and throat/ear infections, and other conditions. Many studies have also shown that breathing through the mouth can make individuals with asthma experience worse symptoms.
In children, mouth breathing can lead to several physical and cognitive challenges. Children who aren’t treated for mouth breathing can develop misaligned teeth, gummy smiles, facial deformities including long narrow faces/mouths, sleep disorders, lack of concentration, poor posture, or poor growth.
Talk with your dentist if you notice or believe that you or your child is mouth breathing. Practicing nasal breathing makes perfect! Also, be sure to try to reduce your stress levels, as stress can also lead to abnormal breathing patterns.
Breathing through your nose is important for your health! It can be our first line of defense against airborne particles, and is especially important to make a habit during these unprecedented times. While wearing your mask, initiate slow breaths through your nose to help lower the amount of carbon dioxide inhaled. This will help reduce your risk of experiencing trouble breathing, headaches, and dizziness.
This pandemic has impacted us all, but our community is indeed all stronger together. Our team at WDG always has your safety and health as our top priority, and we have implemented additional safety measures and equipment to help prevent the transmission of all infections, including COVID-19. Wellesley Dental Group has completely reopened since June 8th, 2020 for all dental procedures and cleanings! Thank you for entrusting your health and dental care to us at Wellesley Dental Group.
Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.
Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.