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Is Your Breathing Pattern Increasing Your Risk of Contracting COVID-19?

Breathing is obviously a vital life function in order to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide from our bodies, but did you know that it is actually a major player in our immune response?


Proper inhalation through the nose allows bacteria, viruses, and allergens to be filtered out thus protecting your body from illness. The mucus in your nose collects these particles, allowing you to expel them when blowing your nose. This is incredibly important in the age of Covid-19!!


Other very important mechanisms of the nasal cavity are to humidity air prior to entering your system for easier oxygen exchange inside your lungs. It also has direct nerve connections to our parasympathetic branch (calming system) of our autonomic nervous system. This system is important in regulating stress, heart rate, and blood pressure to avoid a chronic “flight or fight” state. Individuals that tend to operate in this chronic stressful “fight or flight” state are put at further risk for illness.


Breathing is a function our brains control automatically. However, over time with different environmental factors, such as allergens, prolonged seated postures at computers, developmental hurdles, increased stress, etc. our breathing patterns can become less efficient and stray further away from the original biomechanical design.


With that being said, a lot of our patients that come seeking therapy have evolved into chronic mouth breathers. This pattern not only impairs the ability of our nasal cavity to protect us from viruses and bacteria, but it can also throw off the mechanics of our entire body. Forward head postures can develop. Ribcage positions can become extended forcing diaphragms into a weak position. Neck muscles may then compensate for this weakness and constantly overwork. Our airways may restrict, setting us up for snoring, challenging breathing, and lots of other systemic issues.


If you notice yourself constantly breathing in through your mouth, see if you can change your behavior. Start by checking in every once in a while throughout the day. Make sure your tongue is resting on the roof of your mouth, so that airflow can naturally enter through your nose.


If you would like to learn more about how your breathing pattern might be affecting your movement system contact Tri-Planar Movement Therapies or any of your local Postural Restoration Centers!


By Greer Mackie, PT, DPT, OCS


References:


Value of Blowing up a Balloon

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2971640/pdf/najspt-05-179.pdf


Physiology, Nasal - S. Caleb Freeman; David A. Karp; Chadi I. Kahwaji.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526086/#article-25544.s6


Anatomic connections of the diaphragm: influence of respiration on the body system https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3731110/pdf/jmdh-6-281.pdf


Changes in respiratory activity induced by mastication during oral breathing in humans

https://journals.physiology.org/doi/pdf/10.1152/japplphysiol.01236.2013


Could nasal nitric oxide help to mitigate the severity of COVID-19?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7200356/pdf/main.pdf


Alterations in Oral–Nasal–Pharyngeal Microbiota and Salivary Proteins in Mouth-Breathing Children https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7586306/pdf/fmicb-11-575550.pdf

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