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Breathing Basics: Mouth or Nose?

Did you miss this post back in 2012?  It’s one of my most popular posts.  Ck it out now!

We all know we can breathe through our mouth or our nose, but which is better?  The answer is, it depends.  It depends on what you’re doing at the time.

Let’s say you’re taking a walk on a brisk spring morning.  That’s when your nose really knows what it’s doing.  Since it’s filled with hairs and mucous, it can filter that pollen-laden air before it causes you trouble.  The nose can also warm the air, which is the state the body likes it to be in.  The turbinates are used for that.  (What are turbinates?  click here for more info.) So the nose can really shine in these conditions.

But what if you’re in front of the microphone?  This is a time when the nose can be your worst enemy.  Why?  For the same reason it’s good at filtering and warming air.  The nose is filled with those hairs, the mucus, the septum, and the turbinates.  All these things clog up the space in the nose, and they also create friction when you inhale and air passes through them.  This friction creates a noisy intake of air.  Not what you want when you’re talking into a microphone.  One of the prime reasons for audible intakes of air in a recording can be a nasal inhalation.

This is where the mouth can be helpful.  Not that you can’t get an audible intake through the mouth (watch my video and see how), but at least you have a shot at a silent inhalation.  You never have that option with the nose.  So let your nose do what it does best—filter and warm the air—at all times except when speaking.


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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Mike Kronforst July 2, 2012, 1:10 pm

    And when you’re breathing through your mouth, drop that jaw and open it up. The larger the opening, the less noise it’s likely to make. You’ll be able to take in a whole lot more air more quickly, too.

  • Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. July 2, 2012, 2:19 pm

    Thanks, Mike. You always have the best comments that include extra tips for my readers!

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