Breathing is a normal process, which is next to living. Now that this is something, which happens on its own, we never think about how and how often does one breathe. In normal cases, we breathe through our nares to provide moisture to our nasal passages. However, this may not be the case with everyone. Mostly in children and adults too, some have the habit of breathing extensively from their mouth. This syndrome is known as mouth breathing. No matter how harmless it feels while doing it, it actually has some serious health hazards.
With the season changing, it is common for anyone to get ill with a common cold, which may invariably lead to mouth breathing. However, this may not be a reason to worry, but those who only breathe by mouth suffer from chronic mouth breathing. This is certainly an alarm and should be treated with immediate effect.
Causes & Side Effects of Mouth Breathing
When it comes to infants and children, the most common causes of mouth breathing are as follows:
- Enlarged adenoids and tonsils
- Birth abnormalities, such as choanal atresia, cleft palate, or Pierre Robin syndrome
- Nasal foreign body
The causes differ in adults, including the deviated nasal septum, congestion from infection and nasal polyps and allergies. To start with, it is common for those who do mouth breathing to have dry mouth. The reason behind this is that the saliva in our mouth keeps our mouth free of bad bacteria. But due to constant mouth breathing, the saliva dries up, leading to oral problems like bad breath and cavities.
Also Read: Control Asthma Before It’s Too Late
Chronic Breathing In Kids
Chronic mouth breathing is highly common in kids. If this problem continues to exist for a longer duration, it can also lead to abnormal facial and dental development. This may include deformities like narrow and long faces and mouths, gingivitis, crooked teeth and gummy smiles. Also, mouth breathing can lead to poor sleeping habits, which can adversely affect growth and academic performance. Other leading causes of mouth breathing in kids can be:
- Poor oxygen concentration in the bloodstream
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Sleep apnoea, etc
Children who only breathe from their mouth have lower concentration levels due to disturbed sleep patterns. Also, it can have a direct effect on their academics. Several pieces of research have established a link between mouth breathing and other health concerns, including hyperventilation, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, etc.
What Happens When We Breathe Through Our Mouth?
Mouth breathing can lead to reduced carbon dioxide levels, reduced blood circulation, slower brain movement and reflexes. In the worst cases, all these symptoms can lead to dizziness and unconsciousness too. Those who breathe from their mouth have lungs, which are overstimulated with oxygen. Due to mouth breathing, the airways lose the moisture. This leads to an inefficient amount of oxygen absorbed through the alveoli in the lungs. Mouth breathing means failing all the essential organs of the body, including the brain, heart, etc. In such cases, even those with no cardiac symptoms may be prone to arrhythmias and other cardiac ailments.
With inputs from Dr Srikanta J T, Consultant in Dept. of Paediatric Pulmonology, Aster RV Hospital
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