Is it harmful to breathe through the mouth in the long term if my nose is always blocked?

  • Answered2 times
  • Viewed432 times

Doctor’s Answer (2)

When we exercise and we need more air, we open our mouths and indeed it is easier to breathe. When we sleep, however, the situation is totally different; breathing through the nose is a necessity, not an option
In research on normal patients, the upper airway resistance (and therefore the effort required to breathe) is much higher with mouth breathing compared to nose breathing.
Why is this the case? The main reason is that when we sleep, the muscles of the throat and tongue are relaxed (especially during rapid eye movement -REM- sleep). In patients who sleep with the mouth open because of blocked noses, the walls of the throat tend to collapse backwards even more, causing further narrowing of the upper airway.
Thus nasal obstruction can be a major reason for snoring and/or obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) [1]. Since OSA increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and cerebrovascular disease (stroke), mouth breathing can indirectly be harmful to a person's health.
For children, nasal obstruction is usually caused by enlarged adenoids and /or inferior turbinates (usually due to allergic rhinitis). It is well known that such children tend to develop the so-called "adenoid facies" [2] - open mouth, narrow midface and long lower jaw.
One of the main features of this is maxillary hypoplasia (decreased growth of the jawbones), which is usually associated with crowding of the teeth and dental malocclusion (crooked teeth that do not fit). 
These changes occur during the period of growth of the face which roughly correlates to when one's adult teeth are developing.
Because nasal obstruction [3] indirectly leads to developmental abnormalities of the jaw and teeth, treating nasal obstruction and prevention of mouth breathing at this crucial age can help reduce the development of these conditions, which would otherwise need orthodontic and orthognathic treatment (e.g. jaw surgery, braces). 
Furthermore, while many factors may contribute to OSA in adults, leaving nasal obstruction untreated in a child may set him/her up to have narrow upper airways with less reserve to accommodate the narrowing of the upper airway from other factors (eg weight gain, decreased muscle tone with age). 
If your nose feels blocked while you are awake, it is more than likely that it is blocked when you are asleep. Therefore, it is important to have your nose evaluated and treated so as to minimise the downstream health risks.

1. Obstructive sleep apnea - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Published 2019. Accessed December 10, 2019.

2. Luv Agarwal, Ragni Tandon, Rohit Kulshreshta, Post Graduate Student. Adenoid Facies and its Management: An Orthodontic Perspective. ResearchGate. Published 2016. Accessed December 10, 2019.

3. Day J. Nasal Obstruction: Johns Hopkins Pediatric Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat). Published February 24, 2014. Accessed December 10, 2019.

We are meant to breathe through the nose. The nose and sinuses allows us to:

  • Warm and humidify the air that we breathe in
  • Filter the air from dirt and bacteria
  • Smell and appreciate flavours from food and drinks
  • Shape the quality of our voice

If you breathe through your mouth, you bypass the above-mentioned function. Hence, you may be more likely to develop problems such as:

There are many potential reasons for a blocked nose. However, the top 3 causes seen in my practice are:

  1. Rhinitis ("Sensitive nose")
  2. Deviated nasal septum
  3. Sinusitis (infection of the sinuses)

If you are suffering from persistent and troublesome blocked nose, I would highly recommend a visit to an ENT Specialist.

Not the answer you're looking for? Just ask your own quesiton now FOR FREE.

Read This Next
Filler Lifts Vs Threadlifts In Singapore: Cost And Comparison (2020)

Lunchtime rejuvenation procedures are fast gaining popularity amongst Singaporeans in recent years. These procedures are dubbed as "lunchtime procedures" because they take very little time to perform and do not have any recovery period.

Most of the time, you will be able to see improvements in just a short period of time and return to your daily routine immediately.

I often get patients asking me if a filler lift or a threadlift is better. In my opinion, both are good and effective if done properly and for the correct indications. In some cases, one or the other may be more preferable.

Therefore, I have decided to write this article to help those of you who are keen on getting fillers or thread lifts to improve the signs of ageing. In this post, I will explain in detail the differences and how to choose the most suitable one for yourself. 

Ask Dr Annabelle Leong: ENT Conditions In Children

Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) problems are extremely common in children, including ear infections, blocked and stuffy nose, tonsillitis, snoring and sleep-related breathing issues.

The challenge is to diagnose these correctly in children who may not always be able to report their symptoms. With the right diagnosis, ENT conditions in children can be treated successfully.

Dr Annabelle answered questions from readers on:

  • Common ENT problems in children
  • Allergic Rhinitis, Chronic Sore Throat, Hearing loss, Nose Bleeds, etc
  • Childhood ENT Disorder
  • When to see a specialist for these conditions
  • Causes of these problems
  • Treatment options in Singapore
  • Treatment costs in Singapore
The Complete Guide to Chin Fillers in Singapore (2020)

Chin fillers have been gaining popularity among younger patients. The procedure not only allows patients to achieve a V-shaped face, but also corrects retracted chins and improves facial proportions.

Before undergoing this procedure, I would first like to share with you everything you need to know about getting chin fillers in Singapore.

Read on to find out more!

The Ultimate Guide to Filler Complications in Singapore (2020)

Dermal fillers, or just fillers, are one of the most popular minimally invasive aesthetic treatment out there. Getting dermal fillers is generally safe, however, there are still potential side effects that may occur, as with any medical treatment, and they can be temporary or long-term.

I am Dr Shane Tan, an aesthetic doctor at The Aesthetic Loft Clinic. In this article, I categorise dermal fillers into Hyaluronic acid (HA) and non-HA types, explain how they work and the possible complications each may cause. I will also talk about how you can respond to them if they happen.

Dermal Fillers in Singapore: The Tell-All Guide by An Aesthetic Doctor (2020)

Dermal filler has become a staple in medical aesthetic clinics; it is no longer a novelty for people to have filler injected to refresh their looks or enhance their facial features. What kinds of dermal fillers are there? How much do they cost? What are their side effects? Let me guide you through finding the right Dermal Filler for you.

Request Quotes From Doctors

Based on your requirements, we will recommend up to 5 expert medical doctors.

Get Treatment Quotes
Related Questions

"Dedicated to the ethical practice of Aesthetic Medicine"

Such scars are notoriously difficult to erase. Fractional carbon dioxide laser & micro needling may help improve the skin texture somewhat but the scars are likely to be still quite visible even after several treatment sessions.  Patient... Read Full Answer
Thank you for your question. Braces treatment does take time, on average 1-3 years, however for some complex cases it may sometimes take even longer. There may be some unforeseen circumstances where braces treatment may need to be terminated earli... Read Full Answer

"Dedicated to the ethical practice of Aesthetic Medicine"

Hi,When treating Asian skin with lasers, one of the most common and distressing side-effect is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). The occurrence of PIH post-laser is made more frequent, intense and prolonged after UV exposure as UV stimula... Read Full Answer
Tuina massage is one of the external treatments in TCM, which is useful for pain management. Tuina can help to relieve tension and stiffness of muscles and to improve localized blood and qi circulation. During tui na therapy, the pressure is appli... Read Full Answer

"Psychiatrist with over 20 years of experience"

Hydroxyzine belongs to a class of medications called antihistamines. It is thought to work by affecting certain natural substances (acetylcholine, serotonin) in your body or by acting directly on certain parts of the brain.   Common side ef... Read Full Answer