As a kid, you probably had a friend who did a lot of mouth breathing. For various reasons. Maybe they had nasal congestion that day in homeroom. Or perhaps something was blocking their nasal passages during PE. It’s not uncommon, after all, for kids to breathe through their mouths. And the mouth breathing causes are numerous.
As kids, it usually boils down to two causes: nasal congestion and nasal obstruction. Children are generally more susceptible to allergies during their early years. And aside from some nasty rashes, these allergies tend to manifest themselves in clogged nasal passages and runny noses. They can also get enlarged tonsils while fending off other childhood infections, which can obstruct their airways and make it hard for them to breathe through their nose.
But mouth breathing isn’t just a childhood problem, as it turns out. It affects adults, too, and has very disruptive consequences. Mouth breathing symptoms typically include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Bad breath
- Chronic fatigue
Dry mouth and bad breath, in particular, can spell disaster for your oral health. But that’s not the only problem mouth breathing causes. Here are some more reasons for mouth breathing and how they can affect your health:
Allergies and infection
If you suffer from chronic allergies and infections, chances are you’re no stranger to nasal congestion, one of the mouth breathing causes. In these cases, your mucous glands are pretty hyperactive as your body tries to contain those foreign particles in your system. And because the mucous blocks out those nasal airways, you’re left to breathe with your mouth.
This, of course, has several consequences. In children, this can substantially decrease a child’s quality of sleep, leading them to be fatigued. And this fatigue can lead to other performance problems, particularly in school.
There are many reasons why someone might have enlarged tonsils, another one of the mouth breathing causes. For some, genetic factors play a part. For others, it’s a case of your tonsils hard at work protecting your body. Regardless, when they’re a chronic issue, this can lead to other complications.
Obstructive sleep apnea, in particular, is a familiar problem people with enlarged tonsils might face. And this condition can lead to other problems. When you have obstructive sleep apnea, you tend to wake up in the middle of the night because of the sudden lack of oxygen. When this happens repeatedly, it can affect your heart rate and create more complications, such as high blood pressure and chronic fatigue.
If you’re wondering what a deviated septum is, don’t worry. The septum is the flesh wall that separates your nostrils, which gives the air a smooth flow through the nasal passages. A deviated septum, then, is a slightly off-center septum. While it’s not enough to block the nasal passages completely, it’s enough to make it difficult to breathe.
A deviated septum, typically, has two causes. You could get a deviated septum at birth, often because of a congenital condition. Or if you had an injury to the nose, the impact could have displaced the septum, causing it to heal crookedly. Because of this blockage, then, the body delegates some of the breathing to the mouth to accommodate low oxygen levels. And when you breathe through your mouth daily, you get a dry mouth, making it ripe for bacteria to proliferate and attack your teeth.