Mouth breathing in asthma?: Hi all... - Asthma UK communi...

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Mouth breathing in asthma?


Hi all, just wondering how many of you find you breathe through your mouth as opposed to your nose a lot/most of the time? It's something I've grown up doing and I'm not sure whether it's common in asthma or just a bad habit I started in childhood.

32 Replies
EmmaF91Community Ambassador

I think mouth breathing is a commonly found breathing dysfunction in asthmatics. It’s something Resp physios look/check for anyway 😅. I think when we are struggling during attacks we mouth breath cause it’s ‘easier’, but the issue is after that, when we keep doing it in normal life. (It’s also common in people who get a lot of nasal symptom, like polyps, rhinitis/sinusitis etc)

Retraining how you breath is possible, some find it easier, others harder, but once you identified what you’re doing you can start to change (I think I re-trained back into nose and belly breathing relatively quickly, as I did a check whenever I walked through a doorway or when tv adverts came on 😂... seemed to work and I also lost my breath holding DB/habit like that too 😅)

So yes. It might have been something you held on to right from childhood, or it could be something you’ve developed recently due to asthma (as I said it’s relatively common)

Hope that helps answer your question 😅

GFloss in reply to EmmaF91

Hi EmmaF91, thanks so much for your fantastic reply and so sorry I haven't acknowledged it sooner (a family emergency over this past month has sent things haywire!). You make some fantastic points and I loved your approach of doing the quick checks. Funnily, I'd previously retrained myself to do the belly side but still struggle to remember to switch to the nose breathing. I've managed to catch myself a few times lately but must use your more regular tactic!

LysistrataCommunity Ambassador

Hi, I have done this to some extent in the past (with asthma) without always noticing and been strongly discouraged by physios etc as it isn't ideal. Your nose is better equipped to warm and filter the air you breathe and to avoid 'overbreathing' which can set off your asthma and/or mimic the symptoms.

However, if you have anything that blocks up your nose eg a cold, ongoing hayfever or allergies, it can be hard to breathe through it! And then it can become a habit - I found that after a winter where I had a lot of colds/rhinitis and wasn't able to breathe properly through my nose, then I think to some extent kept a little of the mouth breathing, though managed to sort it once it was pointed out.

If you have ongoing sinus or nose issues it will make nose breathing harder and make mouth breathing more likely, so would recommend trying to get on top of that as much as you can. If you're on top of any nasal or sinus issues but still find you are mouth breathing, you might want to ask to see a respiratory physio. You can also do breathing exercises at home - this site is recommended by Asthma UK:

Some people (eg with the Buteyko method) advise taping your mouth to encourage nose-breathing, but I would be wary of that especially if you do have any sinus or nasal issues, and especially at night. Some physios are not keen on asthmatics doing this at all.

Hope that helps.

EmmaF91Community Ambassador in reply to Lysistrata

Way more detail than me there Lysistrata 😂. Agree on all points!

twinkly29 in reply to EmmaF91

Interestingly I tend to breathe through my nose because mouth breathing makes me cough. Yet still get told DB 🙄 (I know there's more to it than that!)

LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to twinkly29

The one that gets me is when they ask me to breathe through my mouth so they can listen to my chest (apparently it cuts down on extra noises or something?).

I actually find it hard to take deep breaths through my mouth and definitely wouldn't breathe like this normally, but a couple of times after either being asked to do this or doing it automatically because they usually ask, I have been told that I clearly have dysfunctional breathing and shouldn't breathe that way *insert bad words I will not use on public forum*

I may have some bad breathing habits at times like most asthmatics, but that really isn't how a healthcare professional should either identify or discuss them.

twinkly29 in reply to Lysistrata

Absolutely agree. And the breathe through your mouth when listening. Arghhhh.

Nutzs47 in reply to twinkly29

I’m the same breathing in and out through my nose .

GFloss in reply to Lysistrata

Hi Lysistrata, a huge thanks to you too for a really helpful reply. As above, I'm so sorry for the late reply, life has been chaotic over this past month due to a family emergency. It's only in recent years I've learned about the health benefits of nasal breathing. I think it may have even influenced how my jaw developed at puberty. It seems this is something that's widely discussed over in the States but certainly wasn't something I heard about when I was little. Thanks so much for the link, I definitely feel inspired to have a good look/sort myself out!

LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to GFloss

No worries, just hope things are better now with your family - sounds stressful!

Glad the link is useful - hope it helps! :)

GFloss in reply to Lysistrata

It looks great, thank you, I'm intrigued to try the videos! Thanks for being kind about the family side too - definitely a stressful time but hopefully improving.

Even if your nose is completely clear, you have to work harder to get enough breath when the lungs are obstructed, so it's perfectly natural to mouth-breathe instinctively because it's easier. The nasal passages are smaller than the mouth. I found myself doing it the last few days with a chest infection. But as the others said, the nose filters, warms and moistens the incoming air so if you can train yourself to use it, it does help protect your airways too. Does your nose feel congested?

Thanks for your kind reply and sorry mine is so late. As above, this past month has been a bit of a nightmare! What you say about the passages makes perfect sense...and makes me feel a bit better for my tendency to do it. My nose can feel quite congested but an ENT has previously said my sinuses are really clear. I had an op on my nose when I was younger (but later than the mouth breathing probs started) and she wondered if maybe it's altered the function a bit.

Luckily I'm a nose breather which I'm happy about even though iv always had sinus problems. The cold winter air feels slightly warmer through the nose before hitting the airways. Also the little hairs in nasal passages filter out some of the debris.

Perhaps you need a review of your medication, it doesn't seem right that you've problems for hours after exercise- especially if you've used your ventolin pre exercise. P

GFloss in reply to peege

Thank you Peege, it's great that so many of you are nose breathers despite your asthma. It helps to show me that it's not so much an 'asthmatic thing' as a thing that some of us do and need to work on. For me it isn't really related to exercise so much as all the time! It never feels I get sufficient air through my nose, but that may be because I've done it the wrong way for so long that it feels strange to breathe properly!

peege in reply to GFloss

Hi, I'm sitting relaxing holiday after supper while reading your reply so noticedon't my own breathing is shallow at rest. Sometimes we just have to make an effort to breath more deeply to get more lucious oxygen in to our lungs. P x

For over 50 years of Asthma I breathed through my mouth and breathing was uncontrolled. This was spotted by a physio who recommended a Buteyko breathing course. I took the course and it has been a game changer. I now only breathe through my nose including when undertaking physical exercise. From this course I've achieved an improvement in my quality of life. Underlying wheeziness and congestion have reduced significantly. I continue to do the exercises I was taught and have now gone 4 months without using ventolin (whereas previously I needed it most days.

GSLJL in reply to boxers66

Boxers66 interesting... I've breathed through my mouth for 50+ years and never been told to try changing it... Might give retraining to my nose a try. Thanks for the positive message.

GFloss in reply to GSLJL

It is inspiring, isn't it! I'm going to have to give it a go too.

GFloss in reply to boxers66

I'm pleased I'm not the only one who's done it for a long time (I'm in my thirties and feel like I probably started in childhood) but also glad to hear that you've been able to turn your habit around. Very inspiring, especially how long you've gone without ventolin, thank you so much for sharing. Oh and sorry I've been slow to reply, a family emergency over the past month that must've made me look very rude to you all!

peege in reply to GFloss

No worries, no one's counting here (I hope)!

Interested in this topic.. As with you Boxers66and GSLJL I've been asthmatic for 50 years.. I know I tend to breathe through my mouth.. for me it seems more natural .. and maybe a bit lazy..breathing through my nose often seems to take a more conscious effort ..and I feel like I don't get enough air.. Does anyone else find themselves doing s sort of deep catch up mouth breath every so often ? ..and everyone turns to look at you!?👀

I have said to Drs and asthma nurse often over the years that I believe my breathing is totally disfunctional .. but have never been offered any "breathing courses" ..

I have suffered with the most awful hay fever since I was 15 which can last for months and at times have had such bad catarrh and totally blocked nose that have felt like I would suffocate .. 😬(I find the thought of having to wear a Covid mask for work quite intimidating )

On the plus side .. I seem to be finally growing out of hayfever!

If I start to think about how I breathe it is all over the place and I can feel quite panicky.

GFloss in reply to Rubyblack

Thank you for sharing your experience (and sorry for the delayed response!). I feel exactly the same, like it's just natural for me to breathe through my mouth and if I try to do it through my nose for too long I then need to take in a deep breath through my mouth to get some more oxygen. Several friends have also mentioned what you've said about feeling strange if they focus on their breath and they find it hard to meditate or do any form of breathing exercise because of it, so you're not alone. Great about the hayfever...I cross my fingers I'll grow out of mine one day!

I mouth breath but that maybe because I don't feel I take in enough oxygen when I breath through my nose

GFloss in reply to PadGill

Yes! Exactly this. Hoping if I can train myself out of it I'll eventually lose this feeling!

Ruby, I read your response with much interest. It sounded like me; blocked nose, catarrh and hay fever! I was sceptical about doing the breathing course and no doctor or asthma clinic nurse ever recommended doing one (bit of a sore point with me now!) At first I was so congested I couldn't do the required 4 minutes each exercises of nose hold and individual nostril breathing (from Buteyko breathing) but after 2 weeks it got easier This was supplemented by learning to breath only through my nose. I do hope that this might help you..

Thanks Boxers66 I will definitely do a bit of research into the Buteyko method tomorrow !

mariyn in reply to Rubyblack

Used to breathe thro my mouth until had nose polyps removed .... did not know I had any until good G P looked .Also taught the Active Breathing Cycle by the physios at the Royal Brompton . All my 70 years of life they noticed when I was breathing my diaphragm was doing the opposite of what it should ! All best


GFloss in reply to mariyn

That's so interesting Marilyn! Perhaps I will have to see someone to suss out whether there's something going on that's making me feel less able to maintain the nasal breathing more consistently.

I do

GFloss in reply to Peakyfan2020

Glad I'm not alone, haha! I feel pretty inspired reading the above...hope you do too. Thanks for replying too.

Jip I do that as well and I am asthmatic. I've been doing this my whole life. Since panic attacks came into my life in March I hyperventilate heavily. And it's a struggle to learn to nose breathe and belly breathe. But I keep practising. I find it very difficult. My diaphragm is very sore now because of my new breathing patterns. But then again.. I hyperventilate. So it might be sore because of that. I do the buteyko therapy. A speech therapist is helping me with this.

Has anyone ever used a lung trainer device?

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