Read below about mouth breathing, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your mouth breathing from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

This symptom can also be referred to as:
Can't breathe through nose
Congestion

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Mouth Breathing Symptoms

Breathe in. Breathe out. It's a cycle that we repeat over 20,000 times a day. We don't have to think about it. Our bodies regulate our breathing based on our needs. During periods of intense activity, like running, our breathing rate speeds up to deliver more oxygen to our muscles.

If our bodies do the work for us, is there a right way and a wrong way to breathe?

We all know a heavy mouth breather. While most people breathe in and out through their nose, some primarily breathe through their mouth. There are a few concerns that this brings about.

Associated mouth breathing symptoms include:

There are multiple mouth breathing causes, all varying in severity.

There are a few risk factors that can make you more likely to breathe in and out through your mouth instead of your nose such as:

  • Sinus infections
  • Asthma
  • Anxiety
  • Allergies

So, what's the big deal surrounding mouth breathing symptoms? The better question is what are the benefits of breathing through your nose?

If you typically breathe through your nose, you should be enjoying these benefits.

  • Less anxiety and stress
  • Healthier blood pressure levels
  • Increased endurance during physical activity
  • Improved lung function

If you find yourself breathing through your mouth more than your nose, there could be a medical reason that needs attention. If it's more of a habit than a symptom of a condition, do your best to eradicate it.

Mouth Breathing Causes Overview

Whether you've been a mouth breather all your life or just for the past week, there are several causes to consider.

Anatomical mouth breathing causes:

  • Obstructions: Nasal obstructions are a common cause of mouth breathing. These can be foreign bodies, a deviated septum, or large adenoids.
  • Facial deformities: Both lip incompetence and a cleft palate can force mouth breathing.

Infectious mouth breathing causes:

  • Viral: Both the common cold and sinus infections are examples of viral infections that can make it difficult to breathe through the nose. In these cases, mouth breathing is typically temporary and resolves after the infection is eliminated.

Medical mouth breathing causes:

  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women who have never snored can suddenly find themselves being woken up by angry partners. Additional blood flowing through the body causes blood vessels to expand and nasal membranes to swell.
  • Sleeping disorders: Mouth breathing is a common first symptom in those diagnosed with sleep apnea. If a diagnosed patient wasn't always a mouth breather, CPAP treatment can usually revert the patient back to breathing through their nose.
  • Tumors: Though incredibly rare, the location of an undiscovered tumor can affect breathing. This shouldn't be the first cause of mouth breathing you consider, but if all common causes have been ruled out, it should be explored.

2 Potential Mouth Breathing Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Chronic Sinusitis

    Chronic sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses (hollow cavities behind the nose & cheeks) that lasts more than 12 weeks and can continue for months or years.

    Longer than 3 months.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, trouble sleeping, congestion, runny nose
    Symptoms that always occur with chronic sinusitis:
    chronic sinusitis symptoms
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

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  2. 2.Broken Nose

    Nasal fractures are common occurrences. The force needed to break the nasal bones is less than any of the other bones of the face because of their thinness and position. For kids, treatment and diagnosis is different because of the bones may not be fully formed.

    With treatment, return to normal breathing and looks is highly likely.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    mouth breathing, constant nose pain, swollen nose, nose pain caused by trauma, nose bruise
    Symptoms that always occur with broken nose:
    nose pain caused by trauma, swollen nose, constant nose pain
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

Mouth Breathing Treatments and Relief

Being a mouth breather rarely requires a trip to the emergency room. However, if you are having difficulty breathing or have suddenly become a mouth breather with no obvious cause, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

If you need help diagnosing your condition, schedule an appointment sooner than later, especially if you're experiencing the following.

  • You're receiving complaints of sudden or loud snoring
  • You never feel rested, even after a full night's sleep
  • You're experiencing persistent bad breath or dental problems

Even if you've been a mouth breather your entire life, you should still take positive steps to reverse the condition.

The following mouth breathing treatment suggestions can help.

  • Practice: For some, mouth breathing is a habit. Breaking a habit takes consistent practice. Whenever possible, focus on breathing through your nose.
  • Elevate your head: This can especially help if you're pregnant or suffering from a sleeping disorder. Propping yourself up with an extra pillow can discourage mouth breathing.
  • Exercise regularly: Similar to elevating your head, exercising on a regular basis can improve breathing in those with sleep disorders.
  • Remove allergens: Even slight allergies can cause serious nasal inflammation. Focus on making your bedroom an allergy-free area. Keep pets out, purchase bedding made from safe materials, and keep windows closed.
  • Breathing aids: If congestion is behind your mouth breathing, a nasal strip can help to support nasal passages and encourage nose breathing.

Breathing through your nose has an extensive list of advantages that improve your overall health. If you want to rid yourself of mouth breathing, start by finding its cause. Speak to your doctor to see if medical intervention can help you develop better breathing habits and overall health.

FAQs About Mouth Breathing

Here are some frequently asked questions about mouth breathing.

Why do I breathe through my mouth when I sleep?

Mouth breathing can be caused by blockage of the nasal passages, either by phlegm or a floppy pharynx. When collapse of the pharynx is brought on by being overweight and causes an inability to breathe easily at night, it is called obesity-related hypoventilation syndrome. This is closely related to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in which the throat and pharynx are floppy because of a lax arrangement of muscles.

Can anxiety cause mouth breathing?

No, anxiety does not cause mouth breathing. If you are anxious and find yourself short of air, one may breathe out of his or her mouth to increase airflow, but mouth breathing is not caused by anxiety.

Does mouth breathing have an effect on the face?

No. Mouth breathing has no effect on the face. Within the mouth it can have an effect on the dryness of the mouth. Because saliva is necessary for proper dental hygiene, tooth care, and gum care, and mouth breathing can dry out the mouth and thus can cause damage. Dental caries or gum disease can occur if you have insufficient saliva.

Do allergies cause mouth breathing?

Allergies may cause mouth breathing if the allergies contribute to a blockage of the nasal passages. It is common to have allergies that cause inflammation of the nasal membranes or swelling of the pharynx, and this can cause mouth breathing.

Can mouth breathing cause dehydration?

Yes, because you lose a small amount of fluid in the water vapor you breathe but when you breathe out of your mouth over a long period of time, you can lose a significant amount of water contributing to dehydration. It it important to consume water regularly to keep the mouth hydrated and avoid dehydration.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Mouth Breathing

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Are you experiencing a headache?
  • Q.Do you have a rash?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our mouth breathing symptom checker to find out more.

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Mouth Breathing Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced mouth breathing have also experienced:

    • 23% Congestion
    • 9% Cough
    • 5% Sore Throat
  • People who have experienced mouth breathing were most often matched with:

    • 5% Chronic Sinusitis
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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