The founder of the American Rhinological society, Dr Maurice Cottle, stated that the nose performs at least 30 functions, but at least 50% of modern children are permanent mouth breathers.
Why is the nose treated as an optional or redundant appendage?
Here is a shorter list of reasons to convince you!
Not the most catchy title I admit but read on if you have ME/CFS, or a teenager with it, or unexplained anxiety.
If there is one thing worse than having ME/CFS, it is watching your child go through it; their life and education on hold, unable to leave the house, with little support or understanding. If I had found this information earlier, I may have been able to help my son more, I hope it helps you.Continue Reading
Sorry to say that this workshop has been POSTPONED
One of the hardest things about breathing education and retraining is MOTIVATION, putting in enough effort (breathing exercises and lifestyle changes) early on to make a real change your breathing pattern. A colleague calls it “time, dedication and discipline” (TD&D). Sufficient effort at the beginning means clients soon see a decrease in symptoms, (after the first day or two often getting a good night’s sleep or no longer needing asthma reliever inhalers) which motivates them to carry on, and they will soon (usually after 1-3 months) be able to taper down the amount of breathing exercises; it is not usually a big time commitment long term.Continue Reading
The microbiome, the nose, the gut and good health
The “microbiome” or microbes that live in us or on us, is a huge area of research interest for many health areas. There are ten times more microbes -mainly bacteria, fungi (yeasts/molds) and viruses in our guts and on our skins than there are cells in our bodies (thought the microbes are tiny and only make up about 2% of us by weight).
Some microbes can be very beneficial to us, helping provide vitamin K for example, and helping to keep bad microbes at bay. However, microbes can get to parts of the body where they should not be, or the wrong type of harmful microbe can take over where beneficial ones should be (overuse of antibiotics can be a factor here).
Gut microbiome disturbance or gut flora imbalance
There is a lot of interest particularly for ME/CFS, where candidiasis, or a yeast overgrowth in the digestive system can either be a cause of ME/CFS, or at least closely mirror the symptoms. Research into replacing the harmful with healthy gut flora by faecal transplant from healthy donors has raised some eyebrows, but it does make sense. There are some useful links on the microbiome and ME/CFS and enterovirus and candidiasis
But today I am concentrating on the nose, or more specifically microbes in the upper respiratory tract. It seems that colonisation with the right type of microbes can help keep harmful ones at bay. Harmful ones can include molds – many people with asthma can have mold allergies, especially if they have been living in very damp unhealthy conditions. However, some people can remain chronically sick even when they move away from these unhealthy conditions with mycotoxins still detectable in their urine; their airways may actually be colonised with harmful molds, possibly as a naso-sinus fungal biofilm, which continue to produce mycotoxins and cause health problems.
As well as causing respiratory problems, mold colonisation in the respiratory tract may be a factor in ME/CFS in some people.
An altered respiratory microbiome may also have a role to play in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Recent studies looking at bacterial colonies in the nose and sinus have shown that there are 7 main types colonising humans, mostly harmless, but between 20-50% of people have the staphylococcus (which may be antibiotic resistant MRSA) type which are potentially harmful. This infection may go unnoticed until it gets into a surgical wound (a huge issue in hospitals) where cause serious problems can occur through infection; from abscesses, blood poisoning, and destruction of heart valves and bones. Current research is focusing on ways of replacing the harmful bacteria with beneficial ones -possibly by nasal spray –which can then compete out the MRSA and help avoid serious infections during surgery.
A normal birth may help protect babies by colonising their respiratory and digestive systems with beneficial bacteria from the mother’s birth canal. The lack of these beneficial bacterial may be one reason that babies born via caesarean section are more likely to have asthma and other chronic health conditions.
So it is best to breathe through your nose; as well as warming, humidifying and filtering the air your breathe, as well as making enzymes and gases that can help clean up the air your breathe, a healthy nose contains lots of beneficial microbes that may outcompete the harmful ones, this could make it less likely the harmful ones will infect you.
If you would like an email alert for new blog posts, please sign up below:
Most lists of self-help tips for ME/CFS/SEID will emphasise acceptance of the disease as important; the patients who accept rather than push and rail against the disease tend to have a better prognosis. Hostile resistance also increases hyperventilation. These patients may be thinking “but I can’t afford to be ill”, or “what am I if I cannot do the work that defines me”, or “I am useless if I cannot support my family” –and judge themselves harshly.
So self- compassion is the order of the day, again something I hear about a lot, but listening to self-compassion expert to Kristen Neff’s video I understood it more clearly: self-criticism and harsh judgment of ourselves can be considered as part a primitive defence response – a harsh motivator that can help us succeed – but it can activate the fight or flight or sympathetic (threat) part of the autonomic nervous system, releasing stress hormones and contributing no doubt to breathing disorders.
(I wrote a blog post about a link between ME/CFS/SEID and fight or flight or freeze)
So even if harsh self-criticism did not have a role in your disease onset, it may slow down your recovery –it is very hard for someone with such a disease to avoid self-criticism in the presence of such disability and possibly lack of understanding from health care professionals and friends and family who might think that you are malingering rather than sick.
“With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend”.
So learning self-compassion can be a step towards switching from “fight or flight” to parasympathetic “relax rest and restore”.
Breathing can be considered to be the bridge between the emotions and the body, and breathing retraining for ME/CFS/SEID also helps calm the sympathetic nervous system and restore a more healthy breathing pattern – where parasympathetic activation is favoured -that can get oxygen more efficiently to all body systems.
Dr Peter Litchfield, a breathing expert notes that “Overbreathing can be a dangerous behaviour immediately triggering and/or exacerbating a wide variety of serious physical and mental symptoms, complaints, and deficits in health and human performance.”
So does overbreathing or hyperventilation play a part in ME/CFS/SEID?
1) Hyperventilation symptoms are very like those of ME/CFS/SEID
“Hyperventilation syndrome (HVS) can show itself in different ways. Most people with HVS will experience some, or many, of the following symptoms:
Respiratory: breathlessness tightness around the chest fast breathing frequent sighing
Tetanic: tingling (e.g. in fingers, arms, mouth) muscle stiffness trembling in hands
Cerebral: dizziness blurred vision faintness headaches
Cardiac: palpitations tachycardia (rapid heart beat)
Temperature: cold hands or feet shivering warm feeling in the head Gastrointestinal: sickness abdominal pain
General: tension anxiety fatigue and lethargy insomnia”
(this information was taken from my local Derbyshire NHS Community Health info on Hyperventilation Syndrome, and it is great that they recognise it).
Any and every system in the body can be affected. Here is a more detailed list, not everyone has the same symptoms, genetics also plays a part.
2) Hyperventilation depletes the tissues of oxygen
a. Low levels of CO2 stop release of oxygen from the blood
Short of breath? Breathe less! Says Dr Myhill, well known CFS expert.
“Many patients, particularly asthma patients, but also CFS patients, have a sensation that they are not getting enough oxygen to their tissues. Their response to this is to breathe more deeply. However blood cannot become more than 100% saturated with oxygen. All that happens is that more carbon dioxide is washed out of the blood. This makes oxygen cling more fiercely to haemoglobin in red blood cells and therefore oxygen delivery to the tissues is made worse! Paradoxically, to improve oxygen supply to the tissues you have to breathe less! Breathing less increases carbon dioxide levels and improves oxygen delivery.”
b) Low levels of CO2 reduce blood flow to the brain
Dr Medows researches orthostasis (feel worse when standing) and ME/CFS “Some of those with ME/CFS and orthostasis (feel worse when standing) also experience very rapid, deep breathing during an orthostatic challenge, like trying to catch your breath after strenuous exercise. This hyperventilation, in turn, leads to reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, or affecting the pH of the body. And, guess what? One of the most powerful modulators of brain blood flow happens to be CO2. The lower the CO2, the lower the cerebral blood flow.”
Dr. Medow’s hypothesis: that the reduced cerebral blood flow and brain fog occurs, at least in part, because of impaired control mechanisms for regulating C02 and/or blood pressure.
3) Learning to breathe less can help ME/CFS/SEID symptoms
Breathing normalization by re-education can help; you can find some success stories here.
If you would like an email alert for new blog posts, please sign up below: