WHY PROPER BREATHING IS IMPORTANT FOR KIDS
Updated: Aug 18, 2022
One of the most basic, and rarely thought about, functions of the human body is breathing. It is also one of the most critical functions, yet few kids are taught proper breathing and as such, experience unnecessary breathing disorders and health issues.
It is vital for every system in the body to have oxygen. A healthy breath can improve not only your cognition and digestion, but it can also boost your child's sleep, improve their immune response, and reduce stress levels.
IMPACTS OF MOUTH BREATHING
While the severity of the facial abnormalities range child to child, a mouth breather’s face will typically have tired eyes, a crooked nose, a narrow face, a receding chin, a smaller airway, and bad neck and shoulder posture. Crooked teeth and bad breath accompany these facial structure abnormalities.
“Children whose mouth breathing is left untreated for extended periods of time, can set the stage for lifelong respiratory problems and including, a less attractive face to name a few." ~ Patrick McKeown, BA,MA (Author and Clinical Director of the Buteyko Clinic International )
Over time, children whose mouth breathing goes untreated may suffer from abnormal facial and dental development, such as long, narrow faces and mouths, gummy smiles, gingivitis, and crooked teeth. Many children who are mouth breathers also experience sleep, cognitive, and behavioral issues.
While all of the impacts might not be seen immediately, children who spend a significant amount of time breathing through their mouth face an elevated risk for several medical issues. These changes can have long-term effects on their health by:
Decreasing quality of sleep and causing sleep-disordered breathing
Causing poorly functioning auto-immune system
Decreasing brain function, lowering of IQ, and misdiagnosis of ADHD
Causing anxiety, panic attacks, and aggressive behavior
Impacting speech and swelling capabilities
Increasing risk for dental complications
Posture problems and muscle fatigue
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR CHILD IS A MOUTH BREATHER?
Children who are mouth breathers often breathe faster and in a more audible fashion. Aside from witnessing your child's mouth breathing, there are other signs you can look for that might suggest your child is mouth breathing.
Many children who are mouth breathers during the day, may also have the following symptoms:
Increased crying or bedwetting episodes at night
Waking with a dry mouth or sore throat
Trouble waking up
Problems concentrating at school; brain fog
Being diagnosed with ADHD
Chronic anxiety and allergies
Teaching your child to breathe through their nose is one of the best things you can do for their long-term health. But how can you help correct your child if their are already breathing through their mouth? The podcast episode below with Patrick McKeown, Author of The Breathing Cure, will explain everything you need to know:
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU'RE BREATHING CORRECTLY?
You need to know how your body breathes before you can learn proper breathing techniques. Inhaling causes the muscle on the bottom of your ribcage, known as the diaphragm, to contract and move downward. As a result, your lungs can expand fully. A group of muscles between your ribs, called the intercostals, contract to pull your ribcage upward and outward.
During breathing, air is sucked into your lungs through your nose and mouth and then travels down your trachea to your lungs. Having passed through your bronchial tubes, the air finally reaches your air sacs, where oxygen is released into your bloodstream. Carbon dioxide from the blood stream enters the air sacs at the same time and is expelled from the body when you exhale.
One of the easiest ways to tell if you or your child are breathing correctly is to make sure you are breathing through your nose. Also, take note of your breathing cadence ---- are you breathing quickly or slowly? And finally, are you breathing with your shoulders or from your diaphram (also know as belly breathing)?
If your child is a long-time mouth breather, then it is going to take some time to correct them and redirect them into becoming a nose breather. Remember to be gentle whenever you give them reminders to breathe through their nose and take time to practice proper breathing techniques, like the ones in the video above, with them.
RESOURCES FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH AIRWAY ISSUES
Education is the first step to helping your child. CAFF has pulled together a growing library of resources that will help you to better understand children's airway diseases and complications, guidance on treatment options and professionals near you, and community support.
We have a number of resource types available such as book recommendations, research information, blogs, newsletters to help you stay current on the latest findings, and videos and podcasts from some of the country's top medical professionals specializing in children's airway disorders.
As with any medical condition, consult your child's pediatrician should you see any of these symptoms in your child or if you suspect your child is suffering from an airway disorder.