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Ear, nose & throat

Is it better to breathe with your mouth or nose?

March 14, 2019

Itches, drips, reddens, modifies the voice and is struck by an annoying symptomatology that everyone knows well under the name of cold. The nose is like a window that allows the air to enter the body, performing the essential function of breathing, but it is also a tool for the perception of odours. The fact that it works well is essentially indicated by the breath. Often, however, it is difficult to recognize the difference between good and bad breathing. For example, many people do not know whether it is better to breathe with the mouth or the nose. In addition, the nasal respiration can be conditioned by several factors: cold, deviation of the nasal septum but also allergies and rhinosinusal pathologies. We talked about nose and breathing with Dr. Luca Malvezzi, Otorhinolaryngologist and specialist in cervical facial surgery at the Humanitas hospital.


Filter for our body

Like the doormat at the entrance to the house, the nose filters and cleans the air we draw in, humidifies it and regulates its temperature. That’s why its function must be preserved as much as possible.

“When the nose is blocked, we often use the mouth to breathe – said the specialist -. The impact of the air, however, is very different: when breathing with the mouth, the air is colder, less humid and dirtier. So it is better to always breathe with your nose and never with your mouth, if possible”.


Chronic rhinosinusitis or allergy?

Some people suffer from a perennial cold. “The pain, the feeling of a full nose or the headache at the frontal level and the lack of sense of smell are not enough to diagnose rhinosinusitis – said Dr. Malvezzi -. Acute rhinosinusitis is the continuation of a cold, in which case the correct antibiotic treatment solves the problem. Some sinusitis instead become chronic and frequent. In this case the patient complains that he has a kind of cold which never passes. These are the forms that can be related to allergy and asthma or incorrect drainage of the paranasal sinuses.

In this case it is essential that the patient who warns of having a chronic cold is evaluated by a team of experts who can provide a clinical and even an immunological picture. This optimizes the treatment and also the health expenditure. Polyps, moreover, can play a fundamental role in the diagnosis of this symptom. It is tissue that fills up with liquid and becomes inflamed.

“In this case surgery has an important role – said Malvezzi – but we must explain to the patients which symptoms are controllable and which are not, giving a therapeutic perspective”.


The causes of bad nose breathing?

“The causes of nasal respiratory obstruction can be congenital, such as the classic deviation of the nasal septum, or acquired, such as inflammatory disease (chronic rhinitis, nasal polyposis, chronic rhinosinusitis, etc..) and neoplastic benign and malignant,” explained Dr. Lucio Rizzi, specialist of ‘Otorhinolaryngology of Humanitas Gavazzeni Bergamo. ” The most simple remedies are based on the daily use of nasal washings containing physiological solution, which ensure a cleaning of the mucosa, or hypertonic solution – such as purified sea water, especially in the case of colds – which has a natural decongestant action. The use of the classic plasters that are often seen on the nose of athletes, but are often used disproportionately, finds a specific and precise indication in the congenital stenosis of the nasal valve, practically when the soft tissues that cover the cartilage of the nasal wings tend to collapse during inhalation.


Between nasal sprays and do-it-yourself remedies

“The use of nasal sprays based on corticosteroids, sympathomimetic amines or naturally derived products plays a very important role in the treatment of nasal respiratory stenosis. In the case of decongestant sprays, an abuse of them – which is not uncommon because of the “dependence” they can cause – can cause long-term local damage, such as medical rhinitis, perforation of the nasal and systemic septum, especially at the cardiovascular level,” continued the specialist. ” In case “do-it-yourself” remedies or drug therapy, both topical (nasal sprays) and systemic (antihistamines, cortisone, etc.) fail, do not have the desired effects, a surgical treatment aimed at correcting the cause of nasal respiratory obstruction may be indicated, starting from “simple” outpatient procedures – lower turbinoplasty, disruptive polypectomy – to nose and nose surgery performed in narcosis and in ordinary hospitalization”.

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