Come the winter months and we all tend to fall prey to infections. The cold and flu season has long started to rear its ugly head upon us and we can’t seem to get away from the coughing and sneezing. This leads to constant nasal congestion which further leads to breathing through the mouth. Now, the debate is that is the amount of oxygen the same as it is in breathing through the nose?
Yes, the same amount of oxygen reaches your lungs whether you’re breathing in through your nose or your mouth. But something different happens to that oxygen when you breathe in through your nose, which doesn’t happen when you breathe through your mouth.
Breathing through the nose filters and humidifies the air before it enters the lungs. This helps to reduce your risk of colds. The nasal passage adds moisture and warmth to inhaled air for smoother entry to the lungs. It is estimated that the tiny hair in our nostrils protect our bodies against about 20 billion particles of foreign matter every day.
Nasal breathing has another added effect on oxygen once it reaches the lungs, which is not the case with mouth breathing. This is because nose produces nitric oxide - a colorless and odorless gas. Research has shown that nitric oxide plays an important role in increasing blood oxygen and improving oxygen absorption by the lungs. It also kills deadly bacteria. Nitric oxide is known to have an enormous impact in increasing blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
When you breathe through your mouth, the oxygen contained within that inhalation reaches the lungs. However, it gets there without the added health benefits of nitric oxide, which means it is without the warming, added humidity or filtration provided by the nose. These all occur because a thin layer of moist tissue lines the nose. It is this sticky surface that is quite efficient at capturing airborne particles and preventing them from getting into the lungs.
According to experts, in mouth breathing, most people breathe at 10-20 percent of their full capacity. This causes depleted carbon dioxide levels, reduces blood circulation, slows down your brain and reflexes and decreases many other respiratory functions, lowering the energy levels in the body. This means that one might be able to work out harder and longer if you simply close your mouth when you walk or run.
Mouth breathing causes blood vessels in the nose to become inflamed and enlarged, which isn’t good for anyone. Chronic mouth breathing can cause bad breath and gum disease in adults; while in children - it can cause crooked teeth or poor growth.
While keeping in mind a note of the above mentioned reasons, we must practice nasal breathing to have a healthier way of living. Wearing a nasal filter in itself is one such way to make nasal breathing a part of one’s daily life, while keeping the pollutants away.
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