April 14, 2020
As COVID-19 continues to spread, it is more important than ever to pay attention to your everyday habits and how they affect your health. If you are a habitual mouth-breather, it’s best to switch to nasal breathing as soon as possible. Doing so could go a long way towards protecting yourself from COVID-19 as well as other airborne sicknesses. In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits of breathing through your nose as well as the proper technique for doing so.
The Importance of Nasal Breathing
Your nose acts as a filter against viruses, bacteria, allergens, dust, and pollution whenever you inhale. Nasal tissues contain cells with hair-like appendages called cilia that catch these harmful substances before they reach the lungs. In other words, breathing through your nose will help sterilize the air. In contrast, mouth breathing gives bacteria and viruses an unobstructed path into the body.
Furthermore, nasal breathing leads to the production of nitric oxide. This colorless gas has anti-inflammatory properties and aids the immune system in the destruction of viruses. Studies of past coronaviruses have found that nitric oxide can make it much harder for such organisms to replicate themselves. Of course, such studies have yet to be performed with COVID-19. Nevertheless, based on past precedent, nasal breathing has a much better chance of helping the body fight back against the current coronavirus than mouth breathing.
How Do You Know If You’re Nasal Breathing Correctly?
While breathing is generally an unconscious process, there are some steps you can follow to maximize its benefits while minimizing the risks of mouth breathing and avoiding other health issues.
- Keep the mouth closed except when eating or speaking. The longer the mouth stays open, the more likely you are to inadvertently breathe in unfiltered air along with any viruses it contains.
- While your lips are shut, make sure that your teeth don’t touch each other. Clenching your teeth places strain on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) that connects the rest of the lower jaw to the head. Such strain can cause headaches, jaw pain, and even a locked jaw.
- When taking air through the nose, inhale and exhale very slowly with your diaphragm and upper chest. Breathing too quickly can trigger your body’s sympathetic system and cause you to feel anxious.
- Position your tongue so that the tip touches the roof of your mouth while at rest. Letting it lay flay could cause it to push against your teeth, gradually pushing them out of place.
Practice the steps listed above until proper nasal breathing becomes second nature to you. In the age of COVID-19, taking all the right precautions could be the key towards keeping yourself – and the people around you – safe from infection. Pay close attention to your breathing and the effect it might be having on your body.
About the Author
Dr. Jose A. Bushdid has spent years studying dentistry and its various fields, including the treatment of TMJ disorders and breathing-related issues such as sleep apnea. He hopes for all his patients to remain safe from COVID-19. To schedule an emergency appointment at his Coral Gables practice, Bushdid Smiles, visit his website or call (305) 444-5926.
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