Breathing through the mouth is an abnormal way of doing it. It is a very common disorder in the general population with serious long-term results. Let’s see why it originates and what its consequences are.
Breathing through your mouth is not the normal way to do it. Human beings have the nose as a specialized organ to inhale and expel air from and to the outside. When we breathe through the mouth it is because something is happening that alters the normal development of breathing. It may be an obstruction in the airway or a badly acquired habit.
When the fact of breathing through the mouth is perpetuated over time, becoming chronic, the consequences are getting worse. The greater the exposure to the air inhaled through the mouth, the greater the problems in the future. And therefore, treatment is more difficult.
Let’s understand that the nose fulfills essential functions in breathing. Due to its anatomical disposition, it is responsible for humidifying the air that enters the body. The nasal mucosa makes inspiration more efficient, protecting the internal organs. The nose is also a filter for bacteria and for particles that could enter from the outside. Contaminating elements are stopped by the nasal anatomy, avoiding allergies and infections.
Symptoms of mouth breathing.
It might seem that mouth breathing is a fairly obvious pathology. Seeing that a person opens their lips to enter air into the body, we would already have the diagnosis. But the issue is not summed up so simply. Mouth breathing can be momentary, and even physiological. In situations of high oxygen requirements, it is expected that human physiology will resort to the mouth. What is not normal is persistence over time.
Among the symptoms of the mouth breather, we have:
- Presence of the tongue between the teeth when closing the oral cavity.
- Bad night’s rest: With tiredness and exhaustion during the day, in addition to signs of bad sleep, such as dark circles.
- Altered timbre voice: You can speak with a crooked voice, or with the so-called nasal voice, which does not sound normal to the ear.
- Dental alterations: The mouth breathing child sees his dental arches altered. Teeth are poorly positioned and their appearance can even be delayed.
- Dryness: Both the oral mucosa and the lips become dry when breathing through the mouth. It is common for cracks to appear at the corners.
- Recurrent infections: Mouth breathers suffer from recurrent pharyngitis, sinusitis and otitis. Poor respiratory dynamics eliminates the first barrier for microorganisms, which enter freely.
- Snoring: When sleeping, the mouth breather snores. This leads to sleep apneas, which consist of small nocturnal awakenings that the person does not register.
Causes of mouth breathing.
In general, the body is forced to breathe through the mouth when the airway is obstructed. The causes of obstruction are varied, including:
- Tonsillar hypertrophy: It is a frequent condition in pediatric age. The lymphatic tissue of the tonsils or adenoids – or both – becomes enlarged. Due to its position, when the tonsils enlarge, part of the air passage through the nose is interrupted.
- Rhinitis and sinusitis: Chronic inflammation of the nasal mucosa or sinuses obviously complicates nasal breathing. It may be a continuous allergic reaction or repeated infections. Whatever the origin, the end result tends to be the same, with difficulty entering the air through the nose.
- Septum deviation – Due to birth defects or trauma, the septum of the nose may deviate. If the deviation is significant, one of the nostrils is blocked, or both at the same time. Although there is corrective surgery for the deviated septum, symptoms sometimes persist even after surgery.
- Nasal polyps: The mucosa of the nose can grow excessively into the lumen of the orifices. These abnormal growths are nasal polyps. Either by quantity or by volume, they tend to obstruct airflow.
The consequences of breathing through the mouth for long periods are complicated. It is very difficult to achieve the reversal of the changes that occur. Among these consequences, we have:
- Respiratory infections: From common colds to pneumonia.
- Lack of cerebral oxygenation: The air inspired by the mouth reduces the use of oxygen. With less oxygen circulating, neural functions are depressed. Learning deficits are common in children with mouth breathers.
- Spinal disorders: Breathing with the mouth is associated with poor general body posture. The mouth breather brings your head forward and the spine copies this movement by changing its structure.
- Maldevelopment of the skull: Nasal breathing has among its indirect functions that of shaping the bones of the head during growth. If the child breathes through the mouth from a young age, it does not stimulate the skull bones correctly. The lower jaw is not enlarged enough and the palate becomes ogival, like a thin dome upwards.