How to breathe right: Nose or Mouth?

Written by Jakob A. Overgaard

Oct.03 - 2023 7:34 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

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Breathing is a vital function, and fortunately, humans have two options for it: through the nose or the mouth.

At first glance, both seem like viable options since they both facilitate the transport of air to the lungs. However, one method is superior to the other.

Professor and Senior Consultant in Otorhinolaryngology at Rigshospitalet in Denmark, Christian von Buchwald, sheds light on this matter. According to him, breathing through the nose is the preferred method, and there are compelling reasons for this choice.

Firstly, the nose is incredibly efficient at filtering harmful particles, preventing them from reaching the lungs. This is where nasal hairs play a crucial role, serving as the first line of defense despite their unappealing appearance.

Furthermore, the mucous membranes in the nose and sinuses act as a purification system. Von Buchwald even suggests that rinsing the nose with saline solution can enhance the functionality of these membranes, a practice especially beneficial in highly polluted areas.

Another advantage of nasal breathing is its efficiency in oxygen transfer. The professor explains, "We breathe up to 20,000 liters of air per day. Breathing through the nose ensures that air reaches the lungs at the correct temperature and humidity, facilitating optimal oxygen transfer."

As reported by DenOffentlige, athletes often employ techniques to optimize their breathing. You might have noticed some with tape over their mouths or adhesive strips across their noses during performance. These methods, while different, aim to create the best conditions for nasal breathing, enhancing athletic performance by ensuring a steady and optimal oxygen supply.

However, when physical exertion becomes too demanding, mouth breathing takes over, which is necessary, says von Buchwald. But in our daily lives, relying on mouth breathing isn't advantageous.

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