Introduction - How is sinusitis related to mouth breathing?
In this article, SinusDoctor sheds light on various mouth breathing treatment available.
The body follows a natural wash cycle throughout the day and when one sleeps. The mouth completes this natural wash cycle by using sanitizing chemicals in saliva. For the eyes and nose, mucus containing innate cleansing compounds is secreted which in turn washes out unwanted waste. When one has sinusitis, his/her sinuses and nasal passages become inflamed, hindering the routine flow of mucus.
Due to this hindrance, the bacteria which generally would get washed away will end up multiplying in number. One will be forced to resort to mouth breathing, as he/she will experience dry mouth or postnasal drip.
What is mouth breathing?
Generally one breathes in and out through his/her nose, letting the nasal passages warm and moisten the air they receive. The condition of breathing through the mouth instead of the nose is termed as mouth breathing.
Breathing through mouth becomes essential when one can not breathe through his/her nose due to nasal obstruction caused by cold or sinusitis. Occasional breathing through mouth due to temporary illness is not a matter of concern as it will go away on its own. But chronic mouth breathing however indicates that one needs medical intervention to be able to breath more easily through the nose.
It is mainly classified into three types:
This is often related to adenoids (the patch of tissue that is located high up in the throat, just behind the nose) or a critically deviated nasal septum (the nasal septum divides the nasal cavity into two parts).
This is a form of over-breathing frequently triggered by one’s mouth being much bigger than his/her two nostrils. It can strain one’s respiratory system.
This often involves a deformity of the oral and nasal anatomy.
What is the difference between nose breathing and mouth breathing?
The major differences can be summarized as:
- Allergens are filtered out by tiny hairs called cilia when one breathes through the nose. On the other hand, breathing through mouth fails to protect one against allergens, pollution and small insects.
- Nose has bony structures called turbinates. They carry out the task of keeping the air one breathes through the nose moist. This improves the functioning of the lungs and throat. On the contrary, the air taken through the mouth is drier.
- The air one breathes in through the nose tends to warm up until it is closer to the body temperature. This makes it easier for one’s tissues to absorb. But in breathing through mouth, this is not possible.
What are the symptoms of mouth breathing?
The symptom seen in adults can be listed as:
- Dry mouth
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Hoarseness (voice change)
- Waking up exhausted
- Chronic fatigue
- Brain fog
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Sleep disorders (like insomnia)
The symptom seen in children can be listed as:
- Large tonsils
- Lack of concentration
- Day time sleepiness
- Dry lips
- Cracked lips
- Hike in crying episodes at night
- Slower-than-normal growth rate
- Mouth breathing face
- Behavior problems
- Strong mouth odor
- Growth and development problems
What are the causes of mouth breathing?
The cause can be anything that is blocking the passage of nose like:
- Enlarged adenoids
- Nasal congestion (caused by allergies, common cold, sinusitis, etc.)
- Deviated nasal septum
- Enlarged tonsils
- Nasal polyps
- Enlarged turbinates
- Shape of the nose
- Shape and size of the jaw
What are the complications related to mouth breathing?
It leads to a dry mouth, as the saliva fails to wash the bacteria and can cause complications like:
- Bad breath
- Periodontal disease (like gingivitis or tooth cavities)
- Throat and ear infections
- Problems with jaw joints
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Difficulty in speech
- Worsening of asthma
In children, it gives rise to physical abnormalities and cognitive challenges. This can lead to complications like:
- Elongated faces
- Narrow faces
- Gummy smiles
- Dental malocclusion
- Poor posture
- Droopy eyes
- Narrow nostrils
- Dark spots under the eye
- Dry lips
- Narrowed upper lip
- Crooked teeth’s
- Large tonsils
Children who breathe through their mouths often suffer from poor sleeping patterns. This can lead to complications like:
- Poor growth
- Unsatisfactory academic performance
- Lack of concentration
- Sleep disorders
- Reduced cognitive function
Risk factors, diagnosis and treatment of mouth breathing
The risk factors include:
- Chronic allergies
- Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
- Sinus infections (chronic or recurring)
- Constant stress and anxiety
How to prevent mouth breathing and best mouth breathing treatment?
It can be prevented using the following tips:
- Practice using a saline mist
- Use saline nasal mists, nasal sprays, nasal decongestants, or allergy reliever to avoid cold or allergy symptoms
- Practice sleeping with the head elevated
- Keep the house clean
- Keep the house free of environmental irritants
- Install air filters in heat and air-conditioning systems
- Voluntarily practice breathing through nose
- Practice side sleeping
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