How do you breathe?
Did you know that mouth breathing is tied to higher rates of eczema? 2 studies here and here have looked into it, and both shared that there was a positive correlation between them. (It was also linked to higher rates of asthma as well!)
The prevalence of mouth breathing occurs in approximately 50–56% children. When I did a poll to my followers, approximately 50% said they were mouth breathers and 50% said they were nasal breathers. (Mouth breathing is defined as using the mouth alone, or the mouth and nose, instead of the nose alone for respiration for longer than 6 months).
According to Dr. Mark Burhenne, who was my guest on this podcast episode, mouth breathing can be related to:
- Asthma & atopic dermatitis
- Facial development changes (long narrow face & narrow mouth)
- Crooked/crowded teeth & braces
- Sleep interruption
- Reduced oxygen levels
- A tongue-tie
Dr. Burhenne shared on his blog post that mouth breathing can lead to an open mouth, which can also affect:
- Facial growth and development: A child with an open mouth can grow into an adult with flatter facial features, less prominent cheekbones, a longer face, droopier eyes and lower facial muscle tone, a narrower palate, and even a smaller lower jaw. According to Dr. Burhenne, closing the mouth and breathing through the nose, can prevent these negative growth patterns.
- Teeth and braces: If your mouth is open, your braces will take longer and your treatment will be much more challenging for your orthodontist.
- Speech: When children have an open mouth, they are more likely to struggle with certain speech sounds. Speech is affected because when you have an open mouth.
- Sleep and oxygen: Mouth breathing at night, combined with an obstructed airway, are two symptoms directly connected to sleep apnea and altered levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the bloodstream. When less oxygen is able to reach the brain, this can lead to nervousness, anxiety, higher heart rate and breathing rates. Learning and the ability to focus at school becomes a problem for children. In children, interrupted breathing during sleep can have severe effects on brain growth. In adults, chronic fatigue, tiredness, and brain fog are common symptoms related to these issues as well.
In addition, Dr. Steven Lin also shares that respiration through the mouth can be harmful because:
Nose breathing is a major way your body produces a compound called nitric oxide (NO).
“Your nasal passages are sinuses designed to prepare air for delivery to your lungs. They act as a humidifier, warming and moistening the air. They also remove debris and act as a first-line of defense against unfriendly microbes.
One of the most important ways that nasal breathing helps oxygen flow is via a gas called nitric oxide(NO). The role of nitric oxide in the body and respiration was only recently identified.
Nitric oxide is produced in the nasal sinuses by specific enzymes. It delivers oxygen around the body efficiently because it regulates blood flow.
Nitric oxide also has a vital role deep within your body’s cells. There, it influences platelet function, immunity and the nervous system. It’s also important in homeostasis and the regulation of mitochondrial function. It’s produced elsewhere in the body but the biggest contributor is the minute amounts inhaled through the nose into the lungs.
Mouth breathing, however, delivers no nitric oxide. It also provides none of the air-warming and humidifying properties of nasal breathing. In humans, it’s really just a survival mechanism, to be used when the nasal breathing is impossible.”
Nitric oxide is a gas that is formed when oxygen and nitrogen meet at high temperatures. Each cell of your body is capable of producing some nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide is most well-known for its role in heart health. It has also been shown to improve digestion, immunity, memory, and some behavioral disorders.
Nitric oxide is one of the most important molecules the human body produces, and a lot of it is made in the nose and sinus cavity.
Nitric oxide is a key benefit to slowing the aging process, including the health and appearance of your skin, wrinkling of the skin, and much more.
According to Dr. Burhenne’s blog post, here are a few more of the benefits of nitric oxide for the body:
- Enhanced memory and learning
- Better regulated blood pressure
- More regulated inflammatory response
- Improved sleep quality
- Increased endurance and strength
- Better opportunity for weight loss
- Improved immune/gut function
- Decreased pain
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Help with symptoms of anxiety and depression
You can see hear how mouth breathing is tied to the overall health of the rest of the body. In this podcast episode, we also discussed 2 research studies that specifically studied the link between mouth breathing and eczema (links below).
Here are 2 Links to mouth breathing and eczema research studies:
What you (or parents) Can Do to Prevent Mouth Breathing
Dr. Burhenne shares that you can follow these steps to help it:
- Monitor yourself or your child for mouth breathing and/or an open mouth resting posture. How often does it occur during the day?
- Determine if you or your child has any of the airway or breathing issues.
- Consider talking to a doctor or dentist who specializes in breathing and sleep. It may be time to have a sleep study done for you or your child. There are two types—at home, and in-clinic. Your doctor can help you determine the best option.
- Have an evaluation with a myofunctional therapist. A myofunctional therapist can help point you in the right direction at the very least.
- Depending on how old your child is, if they are old enough, they (or yourself) can do mouth taping to help reduce mouth breathing at night.
Here are additional studies demonstrating the link between dental infection & eczema:
My guest, Dr. Burhenne, is the creator and author of AsktheDentist.com and the #1 bestselling author ofThe 8-Hour Sleep Paradox. He is a family and sleep medicine dentist whose advice regularly appears on TV, radio, and magazines, including NPR, The Doctors, and CBS News. He received his degree from the Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco and is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), Academy of General Dentistry (Chicago, IL), American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), and Dental Board of California.
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Want more eczema resources?
- Shop all eczema products
- Conqueror Dry Skin Soothing Balm
- Conqueror Eczema Academy group coaching program
- Calming Bath Treatment
- Eczema gloves
Abby is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who helps clients achieve optimal health. She is passionate about seeing people use health and nutrition to transform lives. She hopes that her experiences and knowledge can help educate others on natural remedies that will help eczema. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube for more updates!
Disclaimer: All the information found on this website should be used for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace proper medical advice. Always consult a qualified health care provider before embarking on a health or supplement plan.