It is commonly believed that in order to get more oxygen (O2) we need to breath deeper. But, let’s review a little bit the basic principles of physiology.
Without the correct level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the lungs and blood, the oxigen (O2) could not be correctly utilized by the cells in our bodies. This is because the bond between O2 and hemoglobin, the protein in the blood that carries O2 to our body tissues, gets tighter when there is not enough CO2. This is called The Bohr Effect. When the O2 is released it could be utilized by our cells for their regeneration. Furthermore, it is not the need of O2 what really makes us take a breath, but the presence of a specific amount of CO2 in the blood which is equivalent to 6.5% in the lungs. When there is a low amount of CO2 in the blood, the brain interprets that our blood pH level will change. This provokes contraction of smooth muscle throughout the body, especially the bronchi, to reduce the amount of CO2 to be exhaled. Smooth muscle is also present in the lining of blood vessels, intestines, and other organs. Therefore, if our breathing is out of balance, we may suffer from many different symptoms like asthma, hypertension, frequent urination, digestive disorders, and many more.
Now, what makes us breath too deep or too fast? The most common factors that will affect the way we breath are food sensitivities, our posture, and our emotional status, among others. Some of the signs indicative that we are having some imbalance in our breathing pattern are sighing, yawning, sneezing, coughing, deep breaths, and sharp exhalations. The breathing habits that we acquire, like mouth breathing for example, will create a memory in our cells perpetuating these effects, and we enter in a dysfunctional breathing cycle.
The good news is that we can change the way we breath because it is just another habit. Breathing exercises and postural changes can help in the correction of dysfunctional breathing patterns. Our myofunctional orthodontic program includes activities to assist the patient. Also, it is important to address the factors that initiate the problem in order to avoid its recurrence.