We’ve moved beyond just thinking about cleansed skin to having great regard for its nourishment. In the current environment where the thorough washing of our skin, specifically our hands, is imperative to preventing the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, we are very conscious of not just hand washing but the technique of handwashing.What does this have to do with your nose? Just like contact with pathogenic bacteria and virus via our skin can make us sick, could our breathing technique also make us sick?A German physician, Dr Buteyko, undertook a practical assignment during his medical training in the late 1940s involving the monitoring of breathing volume of patients. He documented a stark relationship: the sicker patients became, the heavier they breathed.Many humans sleep, walk, rest and work with their mouth open; their nose appears to be nothing more ornamental. So, what purpose does the nose have? In essence, our nose is the key to functional breathing."It has been estimated that three-quarters of the bacteria entering the nose are deposited on the mucus blanket and are thus eliminated. In fact, the mucus has its own antibacterial action." (Ballentine 1979; Holmes 1950 cited in The Hyperventilation Syndrome by Robert Fried).What does functional breathing look like compared to dysfunctional breathing?Traits of Functional BreathingMouth closedNasal breathingSilent, quietSlowRegular cadenceCalm and calmingControlled with ability to keep under controlA natural pause between inhalation and exhalationAdequately deep to naturally expand lowest ribsUnnoticeable or minimal movementEffortlessLightTraits of Dysfunctional BreathingMouth openMouth breathingNoisyRegular sighingRegular sniffingIrregular, erratic, fastHolding of breath (apnoea)Taking large breaths prior to talkingYawning with big breathsUpper chest movementObvious visible movementEffortfulHeavy – day and nightWhat effect does dysfunctional breathing have compared to functional breathing?Effects of Dysfunctional BreathingCooling, drying of airway42% more moisture expelled via droplets through the mouthNasal stuffinessTends towards over breathing andHyperventilationConstricts/narrows airwaysSuffocation sensationReduces oxygen delivery at the cellSympathetic nervous system dominantChronic hyperventilation - breathing volume is excessive during sleep, rest and physical exercise.Excess use of energy contributing to fatigueContributes to a blocked nose, snoring, insomnia, fatigue, coughing, wheezing, breathlessness, exercise-induced asthmaEffects of Functional BreathingWarming, moistening of airwaysAntiviralAntibacterialFilteringRegulates air volumeDilates airwaysVasodilating (increased nitric oxide)Greater gas exchange in lungsIncreased oxygen uptakeParasympathetic nervous system dominantSupports healthy saliva productionImproved symptoms related to fatigue, asthma, and chronic illnessesOverall improvement in vitality – better sleep, better energy, better focus, resilienceAm I a mouth breather? How can I tell?Dry mouth on wakingBad breathSusceptible to skin conditions i.e. Acne rosacea, psoriasis, eczemaChildren susceptible to crooked teeth, crowding, bed wetting, sleep disturbances and disordersHigher risk of gum disease and tooth decayIn adults - grinders, sleep apnoea, snorers, stress, chronic fatigueWhy do I breathe through my mouth?Air hunger is the most common driver of mouth breathing. It is the feeling of suffocation, be this mild or severe, when breathing through the nose. You just don’t feel like you can get an adequate amount of breath.This may be due to a few factors:A small noseDeviated septumAllergic rhinitisHay fever‘Stuffy nose’HabitWhy do we over breathe?StressSedentary lifestyleDiet comprising processed foods and overeatingJobs/tasks involved in speaking a lotMixed messages regarding breathing techniquesSymptoms related to asthma and other chronic respiratory conditionsHigh set temperatures within the home and indoor environmentsGenetic predisposition/familial habitsHow do I start to nasal breathe?The first step is to become more mindful of your current breathing habits. In time with your breath, use your index finger to draw your inhale and exhale, like a continuous wave of the ocean. Now imagine that the wave of the ocean is reducing in size and pace as you reduce the size and pace of your breath. Close your lips and continue to draw the breath, making it slower and quieter and deeper. Notice your breath’s flow and cadence, and the calm it brings. Try this upon waking, retiring or when you sense your emotions shifting your breath back towards dysfunctional traits.Nasal breathing is a calmer breathing pattern, yet you may find it intense to begin with. With practice, it will improve and you’ll soon wonder how you ever coped with mouth breathing.