If you are anything like me, these past few weeks and months have been filled with worry and stress. There is so much talk about what to do and what not to do to stay healthy and take care of the people we love. I have seen some things here and there about nutrition, hand-washing, supplements, and other things we can do to improve our immune systems, but there is one simple thing we can all do to improve our immune system that I don’t hear anyone talking about. Something that is absolutely critical to our health and well-being. Not just in times like these, but always.
Nasal breathing…what is it and why is it so important? Exclusive nasal breathing is, quite simply, inhaling and exhaling through the nose 96%–100% of the time. Our bodies are designed to breathe through our noses exclusively once we are no longer breastfeeding. The ability to breathe through the mouth is only supposed to be for times when we are unable to breathe through our nose, such as when congested.
It is important for many reasons:
When we inhale air through the nose, it travels through the nasal passages where it is warmed, filtered, and humidified. Oxygen is utilized much more efficiently in the lungs when in this form. We even use different muscles when nasal breathing, which pulls the air deeper into the lungs where there is an increased surface area for more efficient gas exchange. This supplies more quality oxygen to the organs, muscles, and brain, as well as rids the body of excess carbon dioxide.
Nasal breathing also greatly increases the production of nitric oxide, the body’s “great equalizer.” This molecule, formed in large volume in the nose and nasal sinuses, plays a role in every organ of your body! Some of the awesome things that nitric oxide does is lower blood pressure, decrease inflammation, prevent clots and obstructions in blood vessels, enhance memory and learning, protect the skin from ionizing radiation, improve digestion, and, so important lately, IMPROVE IMMUNE FUNCTION! Yes, nitric oxide helps the immune system by killing viruses and parasitic organisms.
Our innate immune system starts in our noses as we breathe in pathogenic organisms. Cells in the nasal membranes “sound the alarm” for the other cells in the body to get ready to fight the enemy. When we breathe through our nose, the alarm doesn’t go off and the immune response is late to the party, giving the virus a head start. Mouth breathers are statistically more likely to become infected with respiratory viruses than nasal breathers.
Chronic mouth breathing is due to one of two things. It is either due to a physiologic inability to breathe through the nose or it is habitual. Our primary focus at World Class Dentistry is the overall health and well-being of our patients. We work closely with a diverse team of health care professionals and, together, we can help correct either of these reasons. If you or someone you love breathes through the mouth or snores at night, call us for a consultation. We are available to you in the office or online via a secure telemedicine portal. To schedule an appointment, please call 941-254-2439.