What is “mouth breathing”?
Everyone at some point will experience some form of congestion of the nasal passage. Normal body cycle, hormonal changes, common cold, and allergies are all potential causes for nasal congestion which should improve through medical treatment if needed. For those with constant nasal obstruction, the causes can be structural, including nasal septal deviation, nasal valve compromise, and nasal turbinate enlargement.
Why is mouth breathing a bad thing?
The nasal passage is the first segment for the airway as the air gets to its final destination at your lungs. The nasal passage is the narrowest and most restrictive segment of the airway for a good reason - it actually has several important things to do as the air is passing through the nasal passage. By moving the air through your nose, you actually smell things around you. The nasal passage is a natural air-conditioner. The nasal passage humidifies, filters, and controls the temperature of the air you breathe in to keep your lungs happy and prevent any harmful reaction that can develop in your bronchus (the air pipes leading to your lungs). Finally, everyone knows that breathing through the nose is natural and makes one feel happy.
What can be done to fix this problem?
For patients presenting with nasal airway obstruction, comprehensive medical evaluation should be performed to confirm the diagnosis that the nasal airway problem is structural in nature. Common causes of nasal airway obstruction include environmental allergies, non-allergic rhinitis, and pregnancy. For these problems, nasal surgery should not be considered as the initial treatment.
All other options should be considered first before surgery is offered as the treatment option. These include nasal steroid spray, allergy medications (such as Zyrtec or Claritin), and/or avoidance of allergic irritants (identified from allergy test). Patients should also try the Breathe-Right Strips at night time and/or during exercise to determine whether collapse of the nasal structure is the main problem.
Patients who continue to have problems with nasal obstruction after a consistent trial of medical treatment, and are confirmed to have a nasal airway problem that is structural in nature, are ideal candidates for nose surgery.
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