Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is it bad if I breathe through my mouth too much?"
My girlfriend says that when I am asleep I only breathe through my mouth. Is this bad for me? Does it mean that I am not blocking out germs and bacteria in the air?
Breathing through your mouth is not in and of itself a dangerous thing. In fact many people when they sleep experience relaxation of the facial and throat muscles, causing them to breathe more through their mouths than they would while awake. On the other hand, there are some medical conditions that might lead to "heavy mouth breathing" or snoring. If your girlfriend is noticing that you are a particularly noisy sleeper, or that you snore, then you might want to see your primary care doctor for a general checkup to rule out these conditions. For example, allergic rhinitis, or nasal allergies, leads to congestion and swelling of the lining of the nasal passages, which might cause the passage to close off during the night, causing you to breath heavily through the mouth or snore. Sinus congestion or sinusitis can cause a similar problem. It is important to identify these conditions, because treating them can lead to improved quality of sleep. Furthermore, they are extremely easy conditions to treat with highly effective medications. Start by setting up a general checkup visit with your primary care doctor at your convenience. They will perform a thorough examination and help determine whether there is anything going on that should be treated!
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