Does your partner joke or complain about your snoring? Do you have to go to the bathroom many times during the night? Do you wake up with a dry mouth? Are you still feeling tired in the morning? If your answer is yes, it could be a sign that you are a mouth breather. Also, sleeping with your mouth open can cause anxiety.
Researchers report that nasal obstruction increases the risk of snoring, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders. In children, lack of sleep can affect normal facial and dental development, as well as school performance and behavior.
Mouth breathing puts more strain on the heart than nose breathing. It can reduce oxygen levels in your blood, which can lead to high blood pressure and heart problems. Lung function may also be affected. Also, breathing through your mouth all the time can cause bad breath and gum disease.
Amit Gupta, M.D., a specialist in sleep medicine at Aurora Baycare Medical Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin, says, “Nasal obstruction can have many different causes. The most common ones are nasal congestion from allergies and colds, but nasal septal curvature, stress, Anxiety and even some medications can cause nasal congestion, and sleeping on your side makes it even more stuffy.”
There are several ways to relieve temporary nasal congestion and open your nose. A nasal rinse system, like a neti pot, flushes your nose with salt water. Some people find nasal strips that open the nostrils from the outside to be helpful. Mouth tape is also an available treatment, but experts warn that taping your mouth shut and forcing you to breathe through your nose while you sleep can be dangerous, especially if you have sleep apnea.
“If you have chronic mouth breathing, see your doctor to determine the underlying cause,” recommends Dr. Gupta. “It can also help determine if you need to be tested for sleep apnea. Early detection and treatment of this disorder is critical to your overall health, and your life.”
Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression, he said.
“Once you know why you’re mouth breathing or have a sleep disorder, you can be on your way to restful sleep,” says Dr. Gupta. “Doing everything you can to be the healthiest you need to be, eating well, exercising, seeing your doctor regularly, and focusing on getting quality sleep.”
get this for free sleep apnea quiz It helps assess risk factors such as snoring, pauses in breathing during sleep, fatigue and weight. Based on the results, you’ll know what to do next.
This article originally appeared on health enews.