Friday, November 17, 2006



I hate mouthbreathers.


I know that this is definately not a post about using digital sources to do historical research, but I really have to say something. While doing some crowd wathcing over lunch this afternoon, I must have counted something like 20 mouthbreathers. Some were even

In the new regime, I am going to put a public tax on mouth-breathers.

Seriously. I think that there are one or two other things that one could do to successfully tell the world that they are barely thinking. Now, before writing this off as just another diatribe- which, admittedly it is- just stop to think about it. Have you not ever seen someone walking on campus with their mouth half open? Haven't you also noticed the fixed-forward stare of these people? Honestly, it looks as though they are asleep on two feet. What's worse, is the dull, glazed-over expression that dominates the face. Why don't these people take a look in the mirror? Moreover: the sound. I swear that whenever I go to a movie theatre, in that moment when the lights go down and the audience quietly awaits the film to start (or, properly, the commercials), I can always hear a cacophany of mouth breathing. That's right. It's this not-quite-a-snore-but-damn-louder-than-NORMAL-breathing sound.

Well, it could just be that they are living down a long evening, or they are suffering through a long day, and they really are starting to fall asleep on their feet. But I doubt that that is always the case. This seems to me to be an abnormality that is fostered by our health-care-centric, lazy, sedentary lifestyle. If people were more active, breathing through their noses would become normal. Yes, it is true that you can draw more air through your mouth. So when you are exercising it makes sense to inhale through the mouth. However, it is also very effective to exhale slowly. Come on, everyone has done those calming exercises where they are told to "breathe in 1-2-3, hold, and exhale 1-2-3-4".

This is not just some yoga-new-age-mumbo-voodoo. There is a physiological rationale here. When you exhale too quickly, you throw off the CO2 balance in your blood. This is usually referred to as hyperventillation. Not healthy, to say the least. When your CO2 balance is off, your body stops functioning properly. This results in the fatigued I'm-so-tired-that-can't-even-find-the-strength-to-close-my-mouth look.

Aside from leaving the body in a panic-response mode, imbalances in blood pH can lead to immune deficiencies, and increase sensitivities to allergens and other air-borne pollutants. There are also several other points about the detriments of mouth-breathing, but the last one that I will bring up is that mouth breathers are obviously bad kissers.

Take running, for instance. Hmmm....now that I think of it, running may be a bad example of nose-breathing vs. mouth breathing since most people do not have to worry about breathing rythm. Also, I think that the general consensus among runners is that whatever works is good for you.

But that doesn't help to prove that nose breathing is better. Swimming: there's a sport where your breathing rythm affects performance. Try swimming while exhaling through the mouth, and then through the nose. You should find that you need to take fewer breaths/length when exhaling through the nose. Inhaling through the nose is a bit more difficult due to (proper) head position, so a combination of mouth-inhaling and nose-exhaling is probably best.

My bottom line here is that mouth breathing is just ugly, aside from being un-healthy. Especially when not exercising. Now, as a nose breather I know that nose-breathers can be equally loud. I am pretty sure that everyone has had that experience where they go from walking outdoors and sit down inside and then their nose starts running. If you don't have a bunch of tissues on you, you end up making sniffing sounds every couple of minutes. Believe it or not, but I find that this sound is much more tolerable than the slightly-audible grating of a mouth breather.

So, to all of the mouth breathers out there: there is hope for you. Admit you have a problem, and seek some rehabilitation.

7 comments:

Future PhD said...

Some mouth-breathers have legitimate physical reasons for their state. For example: I was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. At the time when my primary operations were done in the late '70s and early '80s, the techniques used mean that I have virtually no option of breathing through my nose; the airways from my nose are much, much more smaller than the average person's.

I can breathe through my nose only very, very little and hardly ever. I cannot sustain enough intake of air through nose-breathing alone. While I understand your problem with people who DO have the option - many of us simply have no choice.

-PhD student in history (midwestern US)

ComfyRest said...

I am a mouth breather. My snoring was a problem for the spouse. My wife would often wake me to stop snoring. We found an unexpected solution that has stopped my snoring: The SquidFace and ComfyRest pillows. The snoring relief was an unexpected benefit of an invention I patented for being able to lie facedown comfortably and breathe without turning my head to the side. Snoring relief and many additional pain relief benefits are on my website. www.SquidFace.com

Adam Marcotte said...

I suppose that I should have mentioned that I do not necessarily have distaste for people who breath through their mouth becuase of medical conditions.

What I was really ranting about were the people on my campus who just look as though they are breathing through their mouth because they are too lazy to close it.

Zach said...

I am a mouth breath, and I have never liked the feeling of walking around with my mouth half-open.
I just can't find any way to stop doing it. Do you know anyway to stop this annoying habit?

jbogner said...

Don't know if anyone is reading this article anymore, but first: to the person who asked how to stop mouth-breathing...this may sound silly, but I have a 13 yo sister who used to mouthbreathe, and I asked her to hold her lips shut while in private and chew gum while in public and she was very successful.
Second: I thought I was the only one who this annoyed. I have written many rants, as they can be called nothing else, on this subject. It annoys me more than many, many things and I found this very funny, with facts to base it upon. Great.

J. Bogner

Anonymous said...

I am also a mouth breather. I don't do it because I am lazy, stupid, an imbecile or anything like that. I do it because I have a very bad deviated septum and because of the lack of air that reaches my brain, I have almost died in my sleep several times and I am only 21. I plan to get this fixed before next week, but you really need to back off hating people before you know the whole truth about them.

Your taking your madness out at the entire spectrum, rather than to find out a lot of mouth breathers can't help it or don't want to breath through their nose due to other issues.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous, I have the same problem. How can we communicate?