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Tips to stop mouth breathing (and clear your nose)

One of the worst breathing habits is mouth breathing.  The rewards of breathing through your nose are many including less colds, improved asthma control, better oral health, less snoring and sleep apnea, better facial growth and less orthodontic problems. 

It's worth making every effort to stop mouth breathing (particularly in children). Sometimes mouth breathing can be cured by simple breathing techniques practiced with determination and persistance.

The Buteyko Breathing Method includes some of the best breathing techniques for clearing the nose and teaching people to breathe nasally.  These techniques are suitable for adults and even young children.  I've personally seen hundreds of adults and children learn to stop mouth breathing using these techniques.

Here is a step by step approach:


 1. Just Breathe Through Your Nose. The first rule is to breathe through your nose as often as you can. Make an effort not to open your mouth unless it's to eat or talk.  After persisting with this for a few days it gets easier and easier to breath through your nose and mouth breathing can actually start to seem strange.

2.  Repeated Short Breath Holds (Buteyko-Control Pause) The second technique is to do about 3-5 short breath holds in succession. Each short breath hold makes the nose clear a little more if you make sure that you keep your mouth closed between breath holds. The instruction is:  

"Breath in through your nose and then out through your nose holding your breath until you feel the first urge to breathe. When you feel the urge to breathe,  take a breath but make sure its through your nose, keeping your mouth closed. Then keep breathing through your nose until you feel ready to do it again (about 1 minute or so)"

Repeat 3-5 times.

3. Single Long Breath Hold (Buteyko-Maximum Pause). If the nose is still not clearing or if there is not enough time to do multiple short breath holds you can do a single long breath hold where the breath is held as long as possible.  The instruction is:

"Breath in through your nose and then out through your nose then hold your breath as long as you can. As the urge to breathe gets stronger distract yourself by moving your body (foward and backward) or by nodding your head (up and down) and when you finally do take a breath make sure it is through your nose". 

Now just keep your mouth closed and keep breathing through your nose.

4. Walking Breath Hold (Buteyko-Steps)- This technique like the single long breath hold requires that you hold your breath (after gentle exhalation) as long as you can. The difference is that instead of sitting you will be walking. With children you can count the number of steps. This seems to motivate them to go as long as they can. Again, you must take your recovery breaths through your nose, not your mouth.

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