All About Mouth Breathing Symptoms and Treatments
Breathing is what keeps us alive. It is a subconscious activity, which is carried out by our brain to ensure proper supply of oxygen to our body and for the removal of toxic materials and gases like carbon dioxide. If one fails to learn how to keep mouth closed while sleeping, it could lead them to fatal accidents. Patients suffering from bronchial asthma are often times seen to have shortness of breath which alters their quality of life greatly. Many old age patients are also kept on the ventilator, which is breathing through a specialized machine, because if the body is unable to breathe properly, it may lead to death. This explains to us how important it is for us to breathe.
WHAT IS NORMAL BREATHING?
A normal breathing cycle involves inhaling in oxygen from the environment and exhaling out carbon oxide, through the nose. The primary organ for breathing in human beings is the nose. However, in some cases, people normally breathe through their mouth as well. This may happen:
- After heavy exercise
- After jogging/running
- In times of terror
- After lifting heavy weights
- While swimming
At all other times, breathing should take place only through the nose. If one is breathing through his/her mouth, it is not normal and should be treated immediately. If not treated, it may lead to fatal diseases including sleep apnea.
WHY DO PEOPLE SLEEP WITH THEIR MOUTH OPEN?
Nasal breathing might be interrupted because of:
- Blocked nose: this is the primary reason for oral berating in most of the cases
- It could be habitual
- In later stages of pregnancy, due to hem dilution, women tend to breathe through their mouth rather than their nose.
WHO CAN SUFFER FROM ORAL BREATHING?
Adults and children, both are likely to experience oral breathing. However, the incidence is more common in toddlers and children. It is more common while sleeping at night rather than in day time.
SYMPTOMS OF BREATHING THROUGH MOUTH:
The key symptom of breathing through the mouth is having a dry mouth and throat on waking up. The severity of dryness is an indicator of the severity of the disease.
IS IT BAD TO SLEEP WITH YOUR MOUTH OPEN?
Nature has created every system with the perfect design. Our nose is designed to filter the passing air as it enters the nose and goes further upwards. Similarly, the nose also humidifies the air that we breathe in to prevent our inner breathing tract from drying effects of air. Sleeping with mouth open has a number of fatal side effects. If one continues to breathe through his/her mouth, it may lead to certain health and medical problems, which may include:
- Fewer amounts of oxygen are delivered to the body while breathing through the mouth, rather than nose
- The filtration system in mouth is not as well designed as in case of nose
- Although the saliva keeps washing away bacteria, constant mouth breathing will dry your mouth up. This results in absence of filtration medium making your body more prone to infections
- Gingivitis and tooth decay due to bacteria
- Development of a cough because of constantly drying up
- Development of sleep disorders including sleep apnea
- Increased heart rate
- Asthmatic cough
- Altered facial structure
In children, breathing through the mouth can also lead to:
- Lack of sleep
- Stunted growth
- Lack of focus and interest
- Detrimental oral health
Now we shall discuss a few ways- How To Keep Mouth Closed While Sleeping:
1. TRAIN YOURSELF – HOW TO STOP MOUTH BREATHING WHILE SLEEPING
Our brain is a very powerful organ. With determination and constant reminders, it can be made to work in miraculous ways. Throughout the day, keep reminding yourself to breathe through your nose forcefully. Set up hourly reminders, reminders on your working surface, and sticky notes everywhere around you to constantly remind you of how serious this is. Hopefully, your brain will adapt to these constant reminders very soon and you will figure out a unique way of how to train yourself to sleep with your mouth closed
2. KEEP YOUR NOSE CLEAR
Try to keep your nose clear at all times throughout the day. Make it a habit to clean your nose thoroughly with water especially before going to bed.
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3. USE A SALINE SPRAY
In case you feel your nose is getting blocked at night, use a saline spray to clear it up.
4. KEEP YOUR HEAD ELEVATED
Try to prop yourself up a bit while you sleep. This provides an easy passage to your airway for the flow of air. It also helps to relieve congestion.
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5. SLEEP ON YOUR BACK
Sleeping on your back increases the chances of mouth breathing because it makes your mouth open while you sleep. It is best to sleep on your side while you’re propped up. This will help you breathe better through your nose.
6. USE A CAP OR HEAD SCARF
This comes in handy, especially for kids. Use a cap with a soft material that has a strap around the chin. Make sure the material does not hurt the skin of your toddler and the cap is not too warm or too thick, otherwise the baby will remain fussy through his sleep. Allow the child to cover his chin with the strap while he sleeps. This will hold the lower jaw steady and the kid will have difficulty in mouth breathing. As a result, he might try to breathe through the nose
7. STAY HYDRATED
Try to keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day. This will help in retaining moisture in your mouth. It is recommended to drink at least 3 liters of water every day.
8. DON’T LET THE MOUTH DRY WHILE SLEEPING
While asleep, if you feel your mouth getting dried up, get up and sip on some water. This will help you retain moisture in your mouth and prevent you from complications of oral breathing.
9. KNOW THE CAUSE
There might be different reasons for mouth breathing. You need to determine your cause so that it could be treated accordingly. A few causes may be:
- You might have developed a habit over the time
- You might have enlarged tonsils that make you uneasy while breathing through nose
- Your dental structure might be damaged causing trouble in closing your mouth while you sleep
- Nasal blockage, due to any reason
- Due to the disease SLEEP APNEA. Sleep apnea means the inability of the body to breathe while sleeping. This could be of two types:
–Obstructive sleep apnea: this occurs due to blockage of air passages, usually when the soft tissue in the throat collapses while sleeping
–Central sleep apnea: this happens when the brain is unable to signal the muscles responsible for respiration to breathe.
As a result of sleep apnea, patients may suffer from lack of interest in routine activities, general fatigue, headaches, hypertension, diabetes and many other diseases.
To know more about Sleep Apnea and its cure please read THIS ARTICLE.
10. REDUCE STRESS
Stress is always bad for health. Always try to cut down the factors that bring stress to your life for improvement of your general health and quality of life. Severe stress conditions can also cause dysfunctional breathing that can ultimately lead to oral breathing.
Focus on what makes you feel positive. Do yoga exercises for mental relaxation. Cut down negativity.
11. GOOD DIET
You are what you eat. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is vital for healthy functioning of your body. It also keeps your weight in check and avoids excess fats. Obesity can lead to pressure on the lungs and heart resulting in difficulty in breathing. Monitor your weight and try to cut down on products that cause rapid weight gain so as to make your body more healthy, fit and toned and your breathing healthy.
Exercise is vital for keeping your body in shape and letting go of that excess fat that you stored with your last fast food order. In addition to this, exercise also builds your stamina and makes your respiratory muscles strong. As a result, your breathing is improved through the natural way and your chances of returning to oral breathing are increased.
13. BREATHING EXERCISES
Many breathing exercises have been developed to help patients to learn how to stop mouth breathing while sleeping. Buteyko breathing exercises, recommended by an Australian breathing specialist, is ideal for clearing the nose and helps people breathe nasally.
For this, close your mouth and inhale deeply with your nose. Then gradually exhale out and hold your breath with your nose pinched by your fingers. Inhale again when you cannot hold onto it anymore. This will also help build your stamina and make breathing nasally easier for you.
14. REMOVING ALLERGENS
Try to keep your surroundings as neat as possible. Remove any potential allergens. This includes pets. Remove carpets and rugs and do not use furry blankets, coats or hats. Try to dust your rooms every day. Avoid going out into floral gardens, in the case of pollen energy.
15. MOUTH TAPING
Mouth taping is another technique to keep you from breathing through your mouth. Before taping your mouth, make sure your lips are pursed and there’s no space left for you to breathe through the tape anyhow. Make sure not to employ this technique for children as it may choke them.
16. USING A CHIN STRAP
You can take advantages of Chin Strap device to keep mouth closed while sleeping. It is an effective measure that actually worked for many people. A chin strap is basically a device that blocks your mouth completely and forces you to breathe through your nose only. This can be helpful in chronic cases of mouth breathing. Here are few best chin straps for snoring and sleep apnea-
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17. MOUTH GUARD TO STOP SNORING
Mouth guard is another device that helps you to breathe nasally. It is worn on your chin in order to block your jaw. As a result, your mouth remains shut so you cannot snore and ultimately, you’re forced to breathe through your nose.
18. VISIT A DENTIST
It is always better to get yourself checked. It might happen, although the occurrence is very less, that your oral breathing habit could be because of damaged jaw or tooth structure. Visiting a dentist will rule out the chances of this factor
19. HAVE SOMEONE WATCH OVER YOU
If possible, ask someone to watch over you while you sleep and gently push your lower jaw up to close your mouth, in case you start breathing through your mouth. If you continue to do so, your guardian angel should wake you up. Parents should do this for small children.
20. COMBAT SNORING
Snoring also leads to oral breathing. If you’re a frequent snorer, take necessary steps such as using a snore belt to finish off snoring. It could also be an indication that you have Sleep Apnea. You should never take it lightly and should immediately have a Sleep Study Test.
21. SEE AN MYOFUNCTIONAL THERAPIST
Myofunctional therapists are skilled in helping people gain command over their muscles. If the cause of your snoring is due to muscle dystrophy, seeing a Myofunctional Therapist can always help.
22. FORCE YOURSELF
With constant reminders, force yourself to breathe through your nose only, all through the day. Don’t give up on the urge to breathe through your mouth. A little practice will take you a long way.
Remind yourself of the negative effects of breathing through the mouth:
Now that you’ve read about the disadvantages of breathing through the mouth, whenever your body urges you, remind yourself how fatal and dangerous it can be. Adverse effects caused by oral breathing can decline your overall health and compromise your quality of life. In today’s world, where scientists are striving to cure horrendous diseases like cancer, this is something minor. Timely treatment and a little care go a long way. Once you start breathing normally through your nose, you’ll notice what you were missing!
ADVANTAGES OF PREVENTING MOUTH BREATHING:
You might wonder what made us write such a long text on this topic – ‘How To Keep Mouth Closed While Sleeping’. But what seems to be a very small problem, can have drastic effects on your body. By helping yourself to sleep with your mouth closed, you’ll:
- Reduce your stress levels: stress affects our body Not only by making us feel fatigued, but it also has a lot of negative effects in the long term. By reducing your stress levels, you prevent yourself from:
- Headaches and general fatigue: you’ll see improvement in your quality of work as well as your social life.
- Mood swings: a stressed person is always irritated. Just a spark can ignite his temper, causing social problems and declining your social status.
- Migraine headaches and other brain disorders: Migraine headaches have become quite common amongst young people especially, over the past few years. The reason again is mainly the stress conditions that students and adults go through. With proper mouth breathing, you’ll help you to sleep better thus reducing your stress levels
- Prevent hypertension: when the body is in constant working, it starts wearing off and its ability to perform declines. By continuous conditions of stress, the brain is unable to sleep and as a result, the arteries and veins gain tension, thereby increasing your blood pressure. Once you start breathing through your nose and sleeping well, you’ll see your blood pressure getting normalized.
- Prevent Heart diseases and strokes: increase in blood pressure that causes troubles for the heart to function properly. As a result, the patient might suffer from a heart attack in the long run if not treated properly and in time.
- Prevent Diabetes: The leading cause of diabetes in today’s world is stress. Once you start building up on stress, your body is prone to suffer from diabetes. The stress levels take a toll on your pancreas and failure in the glucose metabolism leads to diabetes
- Prevent severe diseases like sleep apnea: imagine what will happen to a person if he/she stops breathing? That person would die! In sleep apnea, the person is totally unaware when his/her brain stops signaling the muscles of the respiratory tract to breathe. Since this activity is not under our conscious control, the person stops breathing leading to death. However, this happens in very severe cases only.
So wait no more! Having known the side effects of sleeping with mouth open, remedies to prevent mouth breathing and advantages of breathing through the nose, we hope you shall have no problem in dealing with your oral breathing now.
Do your body a favor and start working on it today!