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Proper Breathing Brings Better Health (scientificamerican.com)
404 points by pseudolus 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 139 comments

I had a nasal problem that I didn’t know about until I tried breath right strips. Wearing those things was life changing for me. I felt like a different person and honestly can’t believe I spent my entire life not realizing I had a problem.

Eventually got it fixed permanently, but yea...breathing is huge.

EDIT: The problem I had was called Nasal Valve Collapse. It’s something that happens in much older people, but essentially if I inhaled hard through my nose my nostrils collapsed so I’d have to breath through my mouth. It made aerobic exercise very difficult, taking deep breaths in general too.

I discovered how big of a deal it was when I tried on of those 9 Round gyms in my early 30s. The 1st round is jump rope and it tore my throat up. I was so exhausted after 3 minutes of jump rope that the rest of the workout was basically awful. I came back the next week (my throat was really sore for a week) with a Breathe Right strip on to see if it helped. I did the whole workout, jump rope included, like it was nothing.

After I saw the difference, I tried sleeping in them and woke up more alert than I had in recent memory. Great night sleep. Then eventually, I tried just wearing one all day when I was working from home and it was significant by the end of the day.

There was a point where I just realized that I felt so much better wearing them that I was literally wearing them all the time, including in the office.

Eventually I decided to visit an E.N.T. who diagnosed me and gave me a couple of surgical options...which were both kinda scary and didn’t have great success rate. I visited another to get a 2nd opinion and he was confident that it could be fixed with a slightly modified septoplasty.

I ended up doing the surgery and I’ll go ahead and tell you, the recovery is awful...but it worked. I still see a marginal benefit from using a Breathe Right but I probably have 70% of the improvement all the time from where I was before.

Thanks for posting this. I've experienced something similar. My nasal passages have almost always been swollen since I was 11-12. Most ENTs I'd seen over the last 15-20 years have completely failed to provide me with relief. Earlier in 2018 I visited an ENT who noted that my turbinates were "absolutely massive" and the rest of the nasal passage was swollen.

Sometimes the swelling would affect the rest of my airway and I'd feel like I couldn't take even a moderately deep breath. I'd be rushed to the ER but the doctors couldn't find anything other than an elevated heart rate (and some immediately went to their go-to diagnosis of it being stress or a panic attack). After going through that about 10 times, I got a good doctor who told me: "oh dear, you're actually choking." But then, things like hereditary angioedema were ruled out, and the cause remained elusive. I later discovered I could control my symptoms with diet.

I'm now looking into having somnoplasty to reduce the size of my turbinates, but it's unclear whether doing so will simply shift the problem to another narrow point of my swollen nasal passage.

I appear to have lost some kind of cosmic lottery because I also have severe digestive issues and must follow a very strict diet (which also reduces the airway swelling). As you touched upon, it is very hard to accept that you spent most of your life not being able to be yourself. I know I spent most of mine in a subdued fight or flight mode due to the chronic strain on my basic bodily functions. It's been a cruel existence thus far and I can't wait for the day I can rid myself of this torture definitively (my plan for fixing my problems is getting closer to fruition and I've had some success with some of the measures I've tried).

Same thing with me! After going to ENTs for 5 years they all told me “nasal steroid sprays, antihistamines, nasal deviation”. The nasal steroids sprays and antihistamines never worked, so I thought surgery is the only option. I did an MRI of my brain for another reason, and there I go with the scan to the ENT, turns out I have huge turbinate swelling and no nasal deviation. I need to try more meds now before going in for surgery (turbinate reduction surgery).

You might be interested in somnoplasty, it seems less invasive than traditional surgery, although I have yet to complete my research on it. It's usually done for soft palate reduction in order to remedy some forms of sleep apnea, but it can also be used for turbinate reduction. Somnoplasty uses radiofrequency to reshape soft tissues.

I've had an ENT surgeon explain some of the normal/traditional surgical methods of doing turbinate reduction, and it seems to be fairly complex; some methods preserve or reconstruct the underlying bone structure which may be needed for the turbinates to function correctly, while others just do a straight reduction and don't consider the final composition of what remains of the turbinates. I'm trying to find out how somnoplasty relates to this.

I will check it out and do some research on it. I am giving antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays a final try, along with testosterone replacement therapy. Found out I am hypogonadic, and hormonal issues also cause turbinate hypertrophy. If none of these work I will do a surgery.

Let us know how your situation works out

Have you ever lived in or spent extended time in a different climate? I've had many of the same problems and two surgeries. Things were definitely worse in the humid polluted swamp I used to live in...

Yes, you're probably right about that being a trigger. Unfortunately moving is not an option right now.

When I said “modified septoplasty”, turbinate reduction was the modification. In addition to the collapse, they were very large.

I’m curious how often these kinds of symptoms are caused by an undiagnosed chronic viral infection.

I'm pretty sure i've had a chronic sinus infection for a few years now. When I was a kid I was told I had narrow sinuses...I used to get ear infections pretty much any time i got sick. I find they don't drain properly. It always feels like there's liquid on one side. I can tell days it's worse, the area below my ear and jaw are warm to the touch and hurt to press.

It comes and goes. The breathe right strips mentioned by another commenter helps. I find it feels more clear the next day after using them.

But i've found the biggest thing that helps is paying attention to.my stress and the way I hold the muscles in my face. I find making a concious effort to takes some time to do some deep breathing and focus on relaxing the muscles around my eyes and my jaw really helps. A few days of keeping up with that and I findy breathing and pain and such go away.

I also find it to.be a good way to gauge my stress levels. When the sinus infection cones back and stays for a bit. I know i've been slacking with being mindful and letting stress get on top of me.

Sleep makes a huge difference. Insufficient sleep compromises the immune system. Sleep deprivation also causes increased anxiety.

It may even be a post-viral syndrome, which is virtually impossible to detect.

Sometimes it is air pollution irritating the nose, when I went to Copenhagen, I said it was the first time I was able to breath in a decade, while I was smoking at 3 am outside my hotel,Bella Sky .

I had a similar problem. When I was younger, I suffered an accident (I fell, and a metal piece entered my left nostril) which caused an abnormal formation on the inside after it healed. I lived many years having trouble to breathe correctly because of that blockage. Eventually, a doctor discovered the problem, and I had surgery. The difference it makes, being able to breathe correctly, is incredible.

I am curious why it is so important to breath through nose during aerobic exercises? I succeeded very well in different high intensive kinds of sport like boxing and sprint running, and always breathed using mouth..

The general technique is to inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth; if you breathe through the mouth, you'll breathe in a lot of unfiltered, cold / dry air, which you'll end up feeling in your windpipe all the way down to your lungs. The nose filters and pre-warms the air you breathe in.

I googled 'running breathing nose or mouth' and read articles on first page, and general consensus is that you can't take enough oxygen during intensive exercises by inhaling through nose only..

On a similar note, my mother was recently diagnosed with Silent Sinus Syndrome [0].

She had been having vision issues for a while, and it surprised her whenever they figured out it was due to the collapse of her sinus cavity.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_sinus_syndrome

Thanks for sharing.

I've gone through not one but two turbinate reduction surgeries myself. One when I was young and another several years ago. Alas, my quality of breathing now is still pretty abysmal. It's just gotten to the point where I've come to accept having to breathe through just one nostril all the time, as much as a nuisance it is. Frustrating to have spent all that energy and funds to land back at square one.

Also went and tried CPAP for a while, which didn't really help me with breathing for restful sleep.

Where I notice this most is probably during heavy exercise. Having to breathe through the mouth during intense aerobic exercise makes me hit my limit much faster.

I've had two turbinate reductions, a UPPP, and balloon sinuplasty, and I still don't feel right about my nasal breathing. Dr's have pretty much given up at this point.

The strips eventually ruin my skin, or don't stick through the night (they come off and eventually stick to my foot, or my cats...). So I finally turned to "nose cones". The ones on Amazon and the local pharmacies are barely passable, so I did the unthinkable in this day and age and ordered some "Max Air Nose Cones" directly from the manufacturer. Don't want to seem a link shill, so Google/Duck, or just find it as the domain name is the product name. I use the Max Air for exercise (clear) and the Sinus (beige, a bit more stiff) for sleep.

Still not a perfect solution, but cheaper, reusable (still on first set), and less skin irritation than other solutions.

Can you dilate your nostrils? I just did a test in front of the mirror, if I breathe in hard my nostrils collapse slightly, I can feel the breath in getting more difficult. But if I dilate my nostrils at the same time, the effect is almost completely negated.

It looks like the nostril dilation muscles evolved for this purpose (keep the airways open) but they don't always get triggered automatically.

I can, but presurgery it still wouldn’t prevent the collapse.

I wore the strips everywhere, all day, for two years. People looked at me as if I got out of my house wearing pajamas :D

It's normal for the nostrils to suck in somewhat when inhaling....right? If not maybe I should see an ENT or try those strips.

I do find myself yawning a lot, when it feels like I haven't had enough air. However, I've never had any trouble sprinting or doing athletic activity.

So I just tested it and find that I use the muscles of the nose to keep it open - so this doesn't happen. If I don't they do suck in and breathing is harder. It's also possible to open them more than normal for even better breathing.

It is. The degree to which they were doing it was the problem. I couldn’t even try to force them to stay open and they would completely seal the airway.

I’d definitely try the strips if you’re curious though. Really simple and effective.

Could you explain how you got your breathing fixed permanently?

Probably surgery

What was the problem and how did it get diagnosed and fixed?

I'm curious if you eat dairy, soy, and/or bananas? They're all very high mucous producing foods and can impact breathing significantly. I suppose after surgery removing such foods may or may not show improvement/alleviate things more.

Not sure the science is conclusive on this. Also, breathing well probably helps your body to eliminate mucous. Speaking from a yogi's perspective.

I'm not sure I've seen a properly conducted research study to give a solid enough answer either; can read some of my reasoning in my last comment - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18960189

I've been practicing yoga for more than 10 years, a lot of Bikram hot yoga - so I feel you regarding the differences on energy level and at least how the heat and increased flow of air can help free up and clear the sinuses, and why long ago I gave up dairy, soy, and bananas - as I'd notice the decreased ability to breath and likewise my sleep would become worse - I believe because there'd be less ease of breathing while asleep.

Makes intuitive sense to me too but:

- You might have an especially strong reaction to those foods, i.e. they produce more mucous in _you_

- You might have engaged in other mucous-reducing habits around the same time e.g. drinking more water or practicing yoga. Hard to identify a root cause in a study of one.

I do. Nothing significant but I don’t avoid those at all.

If you're into experimenting it may be worth doing so for a week or two to see if there's even further improvement in sleep/breathing; you first have to remove the potential agitant and then let the body recover.

Getting a Neti pot (use distilled or previously boiled water only, along with adding a proper amount of non-iodized salt - Google search will give the answer) and trying that out to help clear the sinuses with warm water seems to help a lot of people as well.

It’s not really an issue anymore, but I’ll keep it in mind.

Standing up straight isn't as easy as it sounds. For a lot of desk workers you're going to have to fix your tight hamstrings, abnormal pelvic tilt, and weak abdominal muscles before it will be possible to stand up straight.

A great book that will help with posture, including fixing pelvic tilt, is 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back by Esther Gokhale [1].

The author traveled around the world and looked through history to find out if we always had such terrible posture. It turns out that industrialized societies put a large emphasis on good posture up until the early 20th century. Even today, great posture can be found in less-industrialized cultures.

The Gokhale method has been a game-changer for many, even though it flies in the face of a lot of modern theories about designing furniture and "good" posture. I've personally met people with arthritis and lower back problems who were able to reduce pain and prevent further damage with this book.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Steps-Pain-Free-Back-Solutions-Should...

A lot of people swear by the Alexander technique with its emphasis on posture and breathing [0][1]. There are number of studios and videos that go into depth and, anecdotally, it appears to be effective. The referenced wikipedia article also discusses several studies that seem to confirm it as a viable option.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Technique

[1] https://www.alexandertechnique.com/

I've heard good things about it as well!

Sort of anecdotal, but as soon as I started deadlifting I noticed an immediate improvement in standing posture.

It makes perfect sense, but it's worth noting that there are plenty of safer exercises for beginners that will improve core and posterior chain. Think glutes bridges, dead bugs, planks, Pallof press, etc.

Some people jump straight to the big compounding lifts (because they are amazing for building strength) with no guidance from a trainer or much care for their form. You deadlift or squat heavy wrong and it's extremely easy to injure yourself or do more harm than good.

This is FUD, basically.

Yes, don’t start squatting and deadlifting without learning how to do it properly.

Yes, start light, you only have one spine and two knees.

No, it is not “extremely easy” to injure yourself if you show a modicum of good sense and avoid max lifting.

I agree with GP that squats and deadlifts will improve posture in a relatively short period of time. They are among the best exercises, period, for improving health and vitality, while being objectively less risky than, say, jogging.

I hurt my back on a not so heavy deadlift. Had done them for two years prior, learned how to do them, etc

But all it took was one day where I was probably too tired/stressed. It wasn't a serious injury, but that spot in my back is still tight and I haven't really been able to unlock it despite physio, massage etc

May have had pre-existing tension which made it more likely. Dunno. But injury can happen more easily than you think.

(Though jogging is still more injury prone, I think. I'm just saying: treat the lifts with caution.)

I fully agree with this, and wish to share an anecdote of my own:

I severely injured my back, bulged disk, cause? Poor computer posture and near-total lack of exercise.

I'm fairly convinced that lifting has left me substantially less injury prone: I started when I noticed that I was experiencing knee pain when bending down to pick something up off the floor. That's been gone since about two months after starting training.

Definitely respect yourself and respect the weight. Best of luck with your recovery, I know how it is and it's a journey for sure.

> …and respect the weight.

All it takes is a lapse in concentration. In my case, my grip started to fail mid set. So I switched (from overhand to mixed), next rep that wasn't enough and, well, surely I can save this rep if I just engage my bi… Oh, snap! Surgery and a year later, mostly recovered, but still.

Thanks. I should also add, for context, that I plan to do lifting again, and would encourage others to do so. One of my favourite ever activities.

I'd just encourage the neophyte to be a bit cautious. Five minutes can lead to an injury that takes you out for a month, and leaves some persistent tension that will take work to get out.

And in particular I'd caution against going heavy if you're tired or stressed. I think my system in general became injury prone and tense during a period of stress. I've worked that out and feel better able to excercise compound lifts.

You should definitely read The Divided Mind by Dr John Sarno. The book has a very high success rate at solving long term back injuries.

I did, years ago. Didn't do anything at the time. I'm not convinced that his thesis is the cause of my own pain.

Of note, I'm not really functionally impaired by this tension. Like, I never say "my back, my back, I can't lift today". I just have some tense spots that reduce flexibility a little.

Is there a specific thing you should do after reading the book?

It's not fud. I hurt my back several times because I didn't realise I didn't have sufficient flexibility to do these lifts safely. Now years later, hardly a week goes by that I don't see people doing these lifts badly.

Your answer is a bit like the old joke: "Patient: doctor it hurts when I do this. Doctor: well, then don't do that".

The reality is that while these are great exercises, they are exercises that are easy to do badly, and that lot of people do badly without anyone ever pointing it out to them, because they think they know them and don't ask for help, and often people don't realize what the warning signs are.

To point out that there are risks with these exercises is sensible, and not FUD, because you can seriously harm both your back and your knees with them if you don't make sure you learn them properly, and a lot of people start out with insufficient flexibility to be able to do them properly.

I've done heavy compound lifts for 15+ years now, and my knees and back are stronger than they ever were before I lifted, but I also did manage to hurt my back when I first started, because I thought I'd learned how to do it properly but hadn't, and nobody corrected me, and I lacked the flexibility to even have a chance of doing them correctly. Thankfully I didn't hurt myself seriously, and took the opportunity to actually sort out the problems, but not everyone gets that lucky.

I think you two are talking across each other, he's saying that if you lift properly it's not easy to get injured, and you're not saying that it's easy to get injured deadlifting properly but that it's easy to deadlift wrong and therefor get injured.

It's really quite rare that someone is deadlifting wrong the first time because they don't have the flexibility to do it properly compared to doing it wrong because they didn't ask for the right kind of help.

Even bomb disposal can be a safe thing if you do it perfectly right :). I think the issue (when you take off the coat of semantics) is that it's easy to do it wrong and injure yourself.

Disagree from my experience, it is easy to injure yourself and recovery from back injuries can be slow. I am very careful and analytical about learning new activities, read the whole of starting strength carefully and practised filming myself while learning, and still hurt my back after 4 years of squatting, probably due to a momentary lapse in form. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, but there are probably less risky exercises to do.

I have had a similar experience, even though I am still much better off because of SS. Then again, I had been doing martial arts before, and the injuries I had seen there were far worse.

I wonder if lifting with a good coach would significantly reduce the risk of injuries.

Not much so risky as sitting all day though. Whatever you do, get off your butt.

I would say squat and deadlift are extremely difficult excercises which require instruction by a good personal trainer and lots of supervision. You can get away with a lot when you're young but these excercises can hurt you badly. My form suffers when I train alone, even though I'm very careful, and it only takes one bad rep... and if we're honest, pretty much no one in any regular gym does any excercise properly, so just advising everyone to just squat and deadlift is problematic imo.

There is a trend among pro trainers to do single leg work under less weight rather than massive squats and deadlifts. See for example Mike Boyle's great book where he describes his methods for training athletes: https://www.amazon.com/Functional-Training-Sports-Michael-Bo...

Edit: grammar

> No, it is not “extremely easy” to injure yourself if you show a modicum of good sense and avoid max lifting.

I think the OP was making the point specifically that doing it wrong would make it extremely easy to injure yourself. Which it would be, and doing it wrong would also be extremely easy for a beginner to do.

if you show a modicum of good sense and avoid max lifting.

Isn't that why they said it's easy to do if done improperly?

Yeah... I hurt my knees doing squats. I suspect it was due to tight hamstrings but can't be sure. (I tried doing it right - following the Starting Strength book, not going to heavy, etc).

I'm fine now, but anytime I try to do squats again, my knees (patellar tendon) hurt.

The problem with most sports training programmes - and it has bugged me since I was a kid - is that their observed effectiveness suffers from survivorship bias. People that aren't doing well on the programme - are not making progress or get injured - simply stop following it and drop out.

It would be really nice to see the stats from an actual coach on every trainee of theirs, what their outcome was or why they stopped, with some before/after stats as well.

If you have enough flexibility to be able to do deadlifts or squats properly, then sure, it helps further.

For my part it took months and hurting my back (thankfully not seriously) before I realized my entire posterior chain was basically too tight for me to be able to keep my back firm enough to do especially squats, but deadlifts too to a certain extent, safely at all but the very lightest weights.

Deadlifts and squats with low weight are good ways of seeing if you have sufficient flexibility, though. If you can't do them with good form even at low weights, then it's definitively a sign you need to do more stretches.

Flexibility really is a thing; I never knew ankle mobility was my main issue until a personal trainer pointed it out and made me do some exercises to help out with that. Knowing it now and knowing what should be possible, I almost feel like reduced ankle mobility is a disability. It can be improved with exercises and training, but it's something that needs focus.

How did you improve it? My right ankle has been less mobile ever since a sprain nine years ago.

I kept lowering the weight until I was just doing the bar and I was still having pain. I'm still working on basically mobility now.

Squats work well too and are quite a bit harder to mess up as long as you remember the entire sole of your foot must stay on the ground at all times and to keep your feet facing forward or out, not in.

same with pushups, I didn't expect workout to have such health benefits (and even morale)

Why do you say abnormal pelvic tilt? Is that common?

(I literally just got a massage where the bodyworker told me my hip was tilted majority, so it’s a stricking thing to read here...)

Yes, it's ubiquitous: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelvic_tilt. Exercises that strengthen stabilizer muscles (squats, or yoga or something) help a lot with it.

The book "8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back" talks all about it and has a long-term plan on how to address it for you.


Sorry, but please don't follow the advice in that book, it's terrible.

A far, far better book is "The New Rules of Posture". [1] See my review at [2] which also briefly explains why "8 Steps" is bad.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/New-Rules-Posture-Stand-Modern/dp/159...

[2] https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2CVZCSXVLQ1EM

I heard the same from a masseur. Leaning forward to look at a monitor pushes your center of gravity forward so the rest of your body has to compensate, which includes the pelvic tilt.

What massage was this?


You can also sit - as long as the back is straight. Actually, sitting is probably preferable. Most relaxation techniques as well as Pranayama are usually practiced sitting.

Define "straight"? Also, why do you have to sit up as straight as you define it to breathe more easily? Sounds like any kind of straight is fine.

With the proper pelvic tilt it allows your diaphragm to move more freely.

I feel like the Wim Hof method ought to be mentioned here. It is imo the fastest and most direct route to understanding what this article is talking about.

Agreed. His recent Impact Theory interview [1] is worth watching, as is his free mini class. Some pretty incredible claims, but underneath the possible exaggerations, I believe there is enough substance to help people out.

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM6WKeZ43s4

I tried Pranayama for some time, but found it to be very complicated to follow for 20 minutes at a stretch. In contrast, the Wim Hof method was very easy to follow. The feeling of increased energy, and the absence of nasal congestion for a certain period afterwards, was instant. Wim Hof also claims long-term benefits.

The only drawback I felt was a kind of nervous energy which made it slightly harder to focus on a long piece of text etc., similar to having too much coffee in one go.

> The only drawback I felt was a kind of nervous energy which made it slightly harder to focus on a long piece of text etc., similar to having too much coffee in one go.

Circulate it through the Microcosmic Orbit to balance it. You're driving too much energy up to your head. You need to bring it back down.

Failing that, remodulate the shield frequencies and generate a tachyon field.

> Circulate it through the Microcosmic Orbit to balance it

I beg your pardon?

A lot of the more intense breathing practices drive energy upwards into the head (whatever you want to call "energy" the feeling can be one of congestion/headaches/stimulation, etc). It's important to draw it back down to the belly or Earth to reduce this.

Put the tongue on the roof of the mouth and move your awareness from your head down through your tongue and on down the front centre line about an inch inside the body. Someone jacked up on some of these breathing practices might also have over-stimulated their adrenals, so it's also important to concentrate on relaxing. Once you can go right down the front line, loop back under the trunk of your body and go up the spine. Just keep moving your awareness around this loop while relaxing, making sure to finish at the belly.

Failing that, try walking barefoot while allowing yourself to relax more and more. It should have a similar effect.

I've been doing taiji for a couple of years -- interestingly, they also talk about a cycle of qi that passes down the front of the body, around the perineum, up the back, and over the head down through the tongue on the roof of the mouth. This is supposed to be going on during standing meditation. I haven't experienced it yet, but it's early days for me.

Yeah it's the same thing. Tai Chi and the Microcosmic Orbit are both Taoist practices. In fact they go together like a hand and a glove - you only see the glove and that's all a lot of Westerners learn, but it's all about the hand.

You might be interested in "Awaken Healing Energy Through the Tao" by Mantak Chia [1] (there's also "Healing Light of the Tao" but it goes on a bit and TBH it isn't very easy to learn from a book).

Tai Chi - like yoga asanas actually - can be done as purely physical movements, or you can be more mindful and trace your awareness through your body along these pathways to tap into the energetic/qi level. It goes for any exercise really - I do it in the gym on the cross-trainers. I just relax more and more and feel my hip bones pumping tingles up from my feet to my head and back down. I get off feeling very different compared to just doing it as a purely physical exercise.

It'd probably only take you a couple of days practice to feel something moving in the Microcosmic Orbit - definitely not years of practice.

[1] https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awaken-Healing-Through-Tao-Circulat...

Thanks for that! I thought you were coming at this from an Indian/Yogic tradition, and I guess the confluence is less surprising if it all comes from Daoism.

My teacher is very much about awareness and the way it moves through the body; the interplay of will, qi, and strength. I'm slow mostly because I started out with some pretty gruesome hip immobility issues, and have treated taiji like physical therapy for the past two years. I'm only just coming out of the gross mechanical problems now, and starting to become more aware of the subtler issues at play.

I practice the "Wim Hof method" (which is actually just a rip off of techniques having been taught and practiced for more than a thousand years). It definitely deserves attention. It induces very fast and reproducible high relaxation levels.

Having said that - Wim Hof method is very different from any techniques mentioned in the article and is rather a complementary technology.

A helper for rhythmic breathing written in CSS. Following this a few minutes is very calming.


One of the great things of long distance running is the very, very deep breathe I get into after approx. half an hour. This feels like a great oxygen shower. This energizes my whole body and brain for the rest of the day.

I've been experimenting with mouth taping recently. When I'm able to use it effectively it does result in a much more restful sleep and my blood pressure seems to be lower the next day. I believe that the lowered blood pressure is due to the enhanced nitric oxide absorbed (it's produced in the sinuses). Unfortunately I'm frequently congested so it's difficult to do this without the use of a decongestant.

You're on the right track. To go further, I suggest reading "How to Breathe: The symptoms If You Get It Wrong, and How To Fix It" or "The Oxygen Advantage". Best wishes.

After having read "The Oxygen Advantage" about a month ago I haven't slept a single night without taping my mouth. I definitely feel a positive influence.

You may want to explore using a neti pot for that.

and don't forget to sterlize the device and liquids

Yes. Beware of using unsterilized liquids. Recently, there was a case of a woman who died of a brain-eating amoeba because of this [0]. I would prefer to use something akin to Stérimar [1].

[0] https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/07/health/seattle-brain-amoe... [1] http://www.sterimarnasal.co.uk/about-sterimar

Do you eat dairy, soy, and/or bananas? They're all very high mucous producing foods and can impact breathing significantly.

Dairy products do not cause an increase in mucus production but can cause a thickening of phlegm [0]

[0]: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/e...

(there are numerous studies supporting the lack of an increase in mucus due to dairy which can be found by searching "milk mucus increase")

This statement is a bit confusing; "Phlegm is a slightly different substance. It's a form of mucus produced by the lower airways — not by the nose and sinuses — in response to inflammation. You may not notice phlegm unless you cough it up as a symptom of bronchitis or pneumonia;" searched "mucus vs. phlegm" on Google.

Therefore isn't a thickening of phlegm (a form of mucus) an increase in quantity, therefore we can say it increases?

The doctor who wrote the response in your link is saying "Phlegm is the thick, sticky mucus that drips down the back of your throat when you have a cold. Although drinking milk may make phlegm thicker and more irritating to your throat than it would normally be, milk doesn't cause your body to make more phlegm. In fact, frozen dairy products can soothe a sore throat and provide calories when you otherwise may not eat."

However as we just read: "Phlegm ... is a form of mucus produced by the lower airways — not by the nose and sinuses" - so it can't be a "Phlegm is the thick, sticky mucus that drips down the back of your throat when you have a cold."

So is the doctor wrong? Is Google's top result wrong with its "mucus vs. phlegm" answer?

Also that link you provided links to no scientific research. The quick search I did on other scientific research, the methods don't seem too sound for controls - likewise if mucus production is caused by inflammation - if that person is only removing say dairy from their diet, however their body already has significant or "maximum" inflammation (leading to them producing their maximum amount of mucus they otherwise would) then they're not going to have an increase simply by adding another inflammatory factor, unless they reduce inflammation "completely" first.

After looking into it a little more, I'm inclined to agree with you just because I couldn't get any definitive definition on the distinction between phlegm and mucus.

> Therefore isn't a thickening of phlegm (a form of mucus) an increase in quantity, therefore we can say it increases?

I don't necessarily agree with this. You can change the viscosity of water by adding gelatin, but you didn't add more water to make it thicker.

But I am most certainly not a doctor and I realize I have no idea what exactly phlegm is!

Can you link to any supporting research on this?

I'm not sure it's true, at least not generally.

Saltwater Washes (Nasal Saline) for Sinusitis helps a lot to clear any obstruction in the nasal cavity, it helped me breathe better.

For some reason when the chiropractor does some work on my back and neck, I feel a release of musuc at the top of my nose and it becomes easier to breathe through it.

Anyone knows why that is?

Placebo. Chiropractic is not real.

Maybe the chiropractor can't help my case. However, I do feel this release in the nose. I have no idea why that is. The placebo in my case might be the dissipating headache after the "adjustment", but the nose mucus release is certainly not.

Wildest thing I read lately in Michael Pollen’s How to Change Your Mind was that breathing in a certain way can induce a trip similar to consuming lsd.

Welcome to yoga :-)

it can induce trips much better than lsd ;)

Curious--is this hyperventilation, a la Wim Hof?

I read a bit about holotropic breath work, and it seems to go on for 20 minutes or more, while Wim Hof sticks with 30-40 from what I have done with it.

It was 'Holotropic Breathwork'. Essentially hyperventilation enhanced with tribal music and a sitter who provides guided instructions.

And which "way" of breathing is that?

In the book it was 'Holotropic Breathwork'.

The article or the whole technique that sounds a bit para-scientific about normalizing the heart beat is dead wrong. The vagus nerve actually increases what is called heart rate variability which is a very good thing and even a longevity/cardiac health marker. The total opposite of making all heart beats equally distant.

This is nice to know, I do use rhythmic breathing a lot when I try to meditate and you can inmediately feel the results, but I didn't know at nostril breathing, I noticed a lot through my life that I've always had difficulty breathing through either nostrils (it kinda changes), It hasn't give me as much trouble as other people in the comments, but I've grown paranoid of it lately and I can't do this technique at all pleasantly, should I have it checked?

I can of course not assess your breathing difficulties at all but maybe it's just the non-pathological https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasal_cycle ? Although the Wikipedia article says that usually one should not notice the effects.

From a book I read years ago:

"a 1987 survey of cardiac arrests at the Menninger Clinic (quoted with great regularity in Rodale Press's various publications) reported that all heart attack victims represented in that survey sample were high chest breathers"

As opposed to belly/abodminal breathers. I can't find the actual survey though.

But why not mention the book's title. Oh look it's 'Path Notes of an American Ninja Master' - https://books.google.be/books?id=sTTzcNwWqPUC&lpg=PA62&ots=I...

Plenty more great quotes to be had in that book, for sure...

Like the part where he recounts his Kundalini awakening experience? Yeah, that blew me away. Even more when I realised it was real... Oh, and look, he triggered it - like many yogis - with breathing techniques...

It IS amazing what one can do to one's brain just by breathing! The laws of physics remain unchallenged by this, however.

> The laws of physics remain unchallenged by this, however.

Of course. Who's claiming otherwise?

Sorry, I'm out of time and can't engage with this further.

I feel like there would be a lot of confounding factors here, I'd like to see the survey. People who are belly breathers are going to be people who are either avid practitioners of relaxation techniques (known to decrease incidents of heart attacks), people who are health aware enough to make it a priority, people who are physically fit enough to have found the technique naturally, or people who are engaged heavily in yoga (which will overlap with the relaxation techniques and fitness), and thus be in better shape than the average population.

Considering that number of "abdominal breathers" is miniscule compared to chest breathers, I assume that the latter will have higher number in almost any statistics.

Care to share the figures and your sources?

Playing the didjeridu, particularly with circular breathing, is great fun for learning some good breath control. I'm sure other wind instruments may have similar benefits (caveat: IANAM - I am not a musician).

Does anyone have experience with Sudarshan Kriya from Art of living? Is it any good?

I can't say I have experience with them but Art of Living (hard cringe) likes to peddle pseudoscientific garbage to the gulible upper middle class.

I have never heard of art of living in India.

But sadhguru and ram dev baba were famous in India for yoga and meditation.

Sadhguru speaks in English, if it helps. By the way sadhguru speeches are just awesome.


i read about an awesome breathing exercise here in hn some time ago https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18527251

I'm in no way affiliated.

Sadhguru and ram dev baba were famous in India for yoga and meditation.

Sadhguru speaks in English, if it helps. By the way sadhguru speeches are just awesome.


Please, no. Jaggi Vasudev and Ramkishen Yadav are both quacks if not charlatans.

> By the way sadhguru speeches are just awesome.

I would have expected to find this opinion on Quora, not HN.

But breathing helps your body burn. Doesn't deep breathing cause you to turn to cinder faster?

Ahh, ashen one.

From my personal experience I can confirm that breathing right makes a big difference but the article fails to mention one very effective approach in many cases to improve breathing, septoplasty. Issues you can have due to breathing defficiently (in my case, using the nose): - Dehydration - Headaches - Extra energy spent / having to put effort in the task - Need to empty / clear your mouth of food, etc so you can breath with your mouth

I got a septoplasty recently (less than a month ago, still recovering from surgery) and I can 100% see the difference in my sleep quality.

My non-24 schedule is much closer to normal now. I no longer wake up with a completely dry tongue / nasty taste in my mouth.

Additionally my surgeon found and got rid of polyps in my nose which were the cause of my anosmia. I can finally sense smells again.

If you're interested in the surgery, contact an ENT for a diagnosis and a pneumologist for a sleep study.

I also read that breathing assistant using warmed / humidified air were seeing good results.

Next pneumologist appointment I'll ask about this and inhalation too.

So, I resort to the alternate nostrils technique when I'm having a panic attack, but I didn't know it was an actual thing until I read this article. Interesting that I'd pick it up on my own.

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