Welcome to my first blog post for the new Breathing Remedies website. The website has a stronger focus on people with ME/CFS. I still see clients with asthma and allergies, anxiety and panic, snoring and sleep apnoea etc. and indeed many people with ME/CFS also struggle with some of these symptoms; ME/CFS is MUCH more than being tired all the time. And the better breathing tips are going to apply to everyone really.
I am going to kick off by talking about nasal breathing. Indeed in 2012 there was an “International Breathe through your nose week”! Many people thought it was a joke! But learning to breathe through your nose rather than
your mouth could be the most important thing that you ever do for your health and your good looks! Click on the image to see examples of people nasal breathing even when exercising. Read on to discover why!
The nose is specialised for breathing, even though it is treated as more of an optional appendage!
The benefits of breathing through your nose are many; I will just mention a few of them here.
1) Air inhaled through the nose is warmed and moistened, so it does not irritate the sensitive airways.
2) Air exhaled through the nose reabsorbs moisture efficiently, reducing dehydration.
3) Air inhaled through the nose is filtered, (spun as it rushes round specially designed structures the concha or turbinates, so any particles – allergens, microbes – stick to the mucus lining of the airways where they are destroyed by enzymes and gases with anti- microbial properties).
4) Nasal breathing promotes good oral health. Mouth breathing causes a drying out of the gums, increases the acidity in the mouth encouraging both cavities and gum disease.
5) Breathing through the nose encourages good facial development and straight teeth. A closed mouth, with the tongue where is should be, in the roof of the mouth for most of the time, can help the jaw grow enough to accommodate all the teeth.
6) Nasal breathing helps reduces snoring and sleep apnoea and ensure a good night’s sleep.
7) Breathing through the nose helps regulate the volume of air breathed, so that it can effectively match the body’s oxygen needs.
Many modern people have developed the problem of over breathing or hyperventilation, often mouth breathing most of the time, and breathing predominantly from the upper chest rather than the diaphragm. Air inhaled through the mouth cools, dries and irritates the airways, causing coughing and worsening of asthma and hayfever and is bad for oral health.
Over breathing results in lower than normal CO2 levels which can result in narrowed airways and blood vessels, and less oxygen getting into the tissues (Bohr effect). Mouth breathing and over breathing can lead to snoring and sleep apnoea which are associated with many health problems, some devastating in the long term (diabetes and heart disease and cancer may be linked to sleep apnoea). Asthma is the condition most people will associate with natural improvement with Buteyko breathing, and the Buteyko method has been in the doctors’ asthma guidelines in the UK since 2008. Other breathing conditions are also helped, sinusitis and allergies such as hayfever, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease such as emphysema) as well as anxiety and panic and sleep problems. Some people have used breathing exercises to help their recovery from ME/CFS – myself included.
Often people say they have to breathe through their mouth as their nose is blocked, but according to Dr Buteyko, the nose blocks as a response to the over breathing; correct the over breathing and the nose keeps clear. So how can nose breathing benefit you? It could be your first step on the road to recovery. (A version of this article was first published here)
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