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Mouth Breathing - Did You Know How It Is Bad For You?

Dr. Hariom 88% (288 ratings)
MD - Internal Medicine, MBBS
General Physician, Delhi  •  38 years experience
Mouth Breathing - Did You Know How It Is Bad For You?

Nasal congestion (blocked nose) can give you nightmares. The condition often results in people breathing through their mouth. Mouth breathing, once a while (due to factors that affect the nasal breathing) is understood. The main problem arises when people, especially kids continue to breathe through their mouth even under normal conditions. Nasal breathing is what we have learned and practiced all along. Breathing through the nose is a healthy practice that has many health benefits. Any alteration in this habit can have a deleterious effect on the health in the long run. It can alter the body dynamics and mechanisms, necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

Though cold and nasal congestion are the most common causes of mouth breathing, other conditions that often contribute towards this unhealthy postural habit include:
● Severe respiratory infections.
● Allergies which tend to block the nasal airway (either partial or complete).
● Kids who have a habit of sucking their thumbs or fingers are often found to breathe through their mouth.
● Sinus, enlarged adenoids or tonsils, hay fever, can also result in mouth breathing.

Harmful effects of mouth breathing
In mouth breathing, there is less absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream as compared to the nasal breathing. This oxygen deprivation can give rise to serious consequences and health problems.

  1. Snoring and sleeping disorders (sleep apnea, often resulting from oxygen deprivation) are common among people who breathe through the mouth. Many people wake up with a terrible headache, feeling tired, irritated, and fatigued (in spite of having their full quota of sleep) in the morning. Unable to have a sound sleep often interfere with the overall performance of the affected person. Low levels of oxygen in the bloodstream can also result in hypertension and cardiac problems. Some people also suffer from brain fog (mental fatigue resulting in confusion and at times, hallucinations).
  2. Dry mouth along with cracked lips is one of the harmful consequences of mouth breathing. Under normal situations, the saliva (in the mouth) prevents the bacteria from thriving within the mouth and causing infections. When the mouth becomes dry (less saliva), bacteria can easily thrive inside, resulting in infections (throat and ear), cavities, bad breath, Gingivitis (gum inflammation brought about by a bacterial infection).
  3. A person with mouth breathing may suffer from digestive problems such as acid reflux, gas, and stomach upsets.
  4. Believe it or not, but mouth breathing can give rise to skeletal and facial deformities (especially in children). The face may appear narrow and long, the chin and jaws lower, and the cheekbones often suppressed. There is also an improper alignment of the teeth (teeth appear crooked).
  5. Mouth breathing can also lead to speech impediments, especially in children between the age group of 4-12 years. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a General Physician.
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