Mouth Breather | Breathing Through Mouth

Learn From Doctor Team
Learn From Doctor Team is made up of well-qualified doctors of different fields with brilliant academic results and professional careers. The article is written and reviewed by doctors of this specialty.

Who Is A Mouth Breather?

A mouth breather is a person who breathes through his mouth instead of his nose. Continuously breathing through the mouth can lead to some complications.  

We need oxygen to survive. Usually, we breathe through our noses. The nose is a special organ designed for respiration. 

Sometimes we breathe through our mouth naturally when we need more oxygen, such as during exercise, running, after swimming, etc. 

Even breathing through the mouth when your nose is blocked due to rhinitis, seasonal flu is normal. 

But when someone continuously breath through the mouth, that can either be because of a condition or can lead to a complication. 

Read the entire article to know everything about mouth breathing and mouth breather. 


Is Mouth Breathing Okay? 

It’s a matter of discussion today. In a word, it’s not okay unless there is a necessity. 

Our nose has multiple protection mechanisms to prevent dust and micro-organisms such as cilia, mucus, etc. If you breathe through your nose, there is less chance of being affected. 

On the other hand, if you continuously breathe through your mouth, more dust and organisms enter your body and easily affect you. 

Breathing through the mouth can also cause some symptoms such as bad breath, dry mouth, etc. 

A healthy person breathes using both nose and mouth. 

If you are suffering from nasal congestion due to a cold or flu, it’s okay to breathe through the mouth during that period. 

Read why does mouthwash burn?

Benefits of Nose Breathing 

The advantage of nose breathing is many. The nose contains cilia and mucus that prevents dust and micro-organisms from entering the body. 

The nose secretes nitric oxide. The functions of nitric oxide in respiration are;

  • Nitric oxide improves the oxygen absorption ability of the lungs.
  • Nitric oxide increases oxygen transportation in the body. 
  • It relaxes the vascular smooth muscle and dilates the vessel to ensure high oxygen reach into the organs, including the heart.
  • Nitric oxide also acts as an antimicrobial and prevents virus and bacterial effects. 

Other Advantages of Nose Breathing

  • The nose acts as a natural filter and prevents dust and particles from entering the body. 
  • The nose secretes mucus and prevents the dryness of the air, and keeps the respiratory tract moisture. 
  • The nose warms up the cold air entering the body
  • The nose also prevents entering excess air into our lungs. That maintains the elasticity of the lung. 

A nose breather gets all the benefits but does not feel them unless he experienced nasal congestion. 

A mouth breather does not get the benefits. 


Symptoms of Mouth Breathing in Adults

Mouth breather are two types;

  • All-time mouth breather
  • Mouth breather at sleep

If you breathe through the mouth all the time, you can tell it all by yourself. 

But if you are a mouth breather at sleep, you may notice some symptoms that indicate your mouth breathing at sleep. 

  • Heavy snoring
  • Dry mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Cracked voice
  • Waking up tired
  • Brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Dark circle under the eyes
  • Intense thirst
snoring at night is a symptom of mouth breathing in adults
snoring at night is a symptom of mouth breathing in adults

Symptoms of Mouth Breathing in Children

Some children are mouth breathers. They cannot express their symptoms like adults. Their parents need to notice the symptoms in their children. 

Children sleep with their mouths open and often breathe through the mouth throughout the night. 

The effect of mouth breathing in children is more than in adults. 

The symptoms of mouth breathing in children may include;

  • Slower growth rate
  • Increased Irritability
  • Crying at night more than normal
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry and cracked lips
  • Large tonsil
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Daytime sleeping 
day sleepiness is a symptom of mouth breathing in children
day sleepiness is a symptom of mouth breathing in children

Sometimes it is misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Consult a pediatrician for your children. 

Causes of Mouth Breathing

The basic cause of mouth breathing is an obstructed nasal pathway (complete or partially).

When the nasal pathway cannot provide enough oxygen, our brain’s respiratory center automatically signals breathing through the mouth. 

There are several causes of an obstructed nose and mouth breathing that may include;

  • Nasal congestion due to allergies, cold, or infection
  • Tonsilitis
  • Enlarged adenoids
  • Deviated septum
  • Nasal polyps
  • Enlarged turbinates
  • The unusual shape of the nose
  • Congenital anomaly of the nose
  • Tumors
  • Sinusitis 
nasal congestion is the primary cause of mouth breathing

Some people make it a habit to breathe through the mouth. So even after the nasal congestion is treated, they breathe through the mouth. 

People with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, parasomnia often breathe through their mouths. 

Anxiety, stress often leads to mouth breathing. In addition, anxiety and stress cause hormonal imbalance in the body that leads to rapid breathing, tachycardia, and abnormal breathing conditions. 

Diagnosis of Mouth Breathing

There isn’t a specific test to diagnose mouth breathing. 

The doctor will take your history. Then examine your mouth, nose, eyes, and other parts as physical examination. 

The doctor will ask you some questions about your lifestyle, habit, sleep cycle, etc. 

The doctor will measure your blood pressure and pulse. 

If the doctor thinks the examination and history are enough to make the diagnosis. Then he may prescribe you some medications and advise you to modify your lifestyle. 

If the doctor is not satisfied, he may give some tests such as ECG, blood tests, nasopharyngeal x-ray, etc. 

The doctor may also refer you to an ENT specialist.

Tests For Mouth Breather

  • Visual tests for mouth breathing include dry mouth, dark circles under the eye, dry and cracked lips, etc. 
  • Graded mirror test
  • Water retention test
  • Lip seal test

Risk Factors For Mouth Breather

When someone makes mouth breathing a habit, they develop some potential risks that may include;

  • Chronic allergies
  • Hay fever
  • Sinusitis
  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Stress and anxiety

Complications of Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing causes dry mouth. Therefore, salivation is necessary for preventive mechanisms as well as for digesting foods. 

bad breath due to mouth breathing
bad breath due to mouth breathing

A dry mouth can lead to;

  • Bad breath
  • Gum recession and other periodontal diseases
  • Throat and ear infections
  • Gum and palate infections

Mouth breathing can decrease the oxygen level in the blood and lead to hypertension and tachycardia. 

Mouth breathing can also lead to loss of lung function (partially). That may cause asthma and other severe pulmonary conditions. 

Mouth breather children are at more risk. They are in their growing period. If the mouth breathing is not treated, that may lead to;

  • Narrow face
  • Unusual nose shape
  • Gummy smile
  • Dental and gum conditions
  • Tooth decay
  • Postural disorder
  • Oral infection

Mouth breather children cannot have a sound sleep at night. In comparison, they need to sleep 10-14 hours a day. 

Sleep disturbance in children may lead to;

  • Poor growth
  • Poor performance and ability
  • Lack of physical strength
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Sleepiness

Treatment For Mouth Breather

Those who are not mouth breathers by habit can be cured by treating their nasal congestion. 

The doctor will give them some medications for nasal congestion, which may include;

The doctor may also advise taking water vapor twice or more times a day for a clear nostril. 

Adhesive stips work for some people. That helps to keep the nostril open. It’s used especially for people with closed nostrils. Closed nostrils resist the inflow of air into the lungs. 

People with sleep difficulties are treated differently. 

For example, if the sleep condition is sleep apnea, the doctor may advise using a face mask, medically named continuous positive air pressure therapy(CPAP).

CPAP provides air to your nose and mouth, and the pressure remains positive so that your air passage does not collapse.  

Snoring can be treated without any medication by nose clip. However, if the nose clip doesn’t work, then the doctor recommends other options. 

Swollen tonsils and adenoids are treated surgically in children. 

The children cannot speak out themselves about their breathing problems. The parents should take care of their children, and if they notice any of the symptoms, they should consult with their pediatrician. 

Sometimes the doctor recommends some orthodontic treatment for children. Some devices are available that helps to keep the nose open and facilitate nasal breathing. 

Children are more likely to be affected by cold and flu. That obstructs the nose, and they cannot breathe through their nose. So the parents should keep their children warm. 

Prevention of Mouth Breathing

If you are a mouth breather only during cough, flu, or allergic rhinitis, then you have nothing to worry about. 

But those who breathe through their mouth by habit should prevent it. Nasal congestion is the primary reason behind mouth breathing. 

Preventing nasal congestion may help you to get rid of mouth breathing. Although, using substances to remove nasal congestion right away isn’t a good decision.

The prevention of mouth breathing may include;

  • Saline mist can be used during flight and sea travel.
  • Saline mist spray, nasal decongestants, allergy relievers may help. 
  • Sleeping on a slightly elevated pillow may help you to breathe through your nose. 
  • Keep your house dust-free.
  • Using an air filter in the house may help you prevent dust and pollens that cause allergic rhinitis and nasal congestion. 
  • Avoid breathing through your mouth by willpower. If you do not have any condition, forcefully breathe through your nose. 

If you are continuously breathing through your mouth, talk to your doctor. The doctor will diagnose your condition as well as provide you a course of treatment. 

If you are a mouth breather due to stress and anxiety, the doctor may help you to modify your lifestyle and prescribe you some medications. 

Yoga, jogging, exercises also help to relieve stress and anxiety. 

If you have a sleep disturbance, you better not be late to talk to a doctor. 

Mouth Breather Summery 

Our nose is the specialized organ for breathing. Therefore, breathing through the mouth is only okay when experiencing temporary nasal congestion due to a cold, flu, or allergy attack.

Mouth breathing during extreme physical activity is also okay. But continuous mouth breathing as a habit or due to an underlying condition is not good for health. 

Mouth breathing in children is more dangerous. That can hamper their growth, development and cause many complications. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a mouth breather?

Those who breathe through the mouth instead of the nose are called mouth breathers.

How to stop being a mouth breather?

If you are breathing through the mouth due to nasal congestion then treat the condition by consulting a doctor. If you are breathing through the mouth because of habit then use your willpower to get rid of that habit.

Why am I a mouth breather?

You are a mouth breather either due to habit or due to any underlying medical condition. The medical condition can be acute such as nasal congestion or chronic such as severe pulmonary diseases.

Last Updated on April 11, 2022 by Learn From Doctor Team

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