Holding your breath damages your organs

The upper respiratory tract


In the nose, almost all dirt particles, dust or small insects that may be in the air stick to the hairs and turbinates of the nostrils and are thus filtered out at the beginning of the airway system. This is why it is so important that breathing works through the nose.

The nose is also the seat of the olfactory mucous membrane (located under the roof of the nasal cavity) with olfactory cells that warn us of possibly harmful substances in the air, for example if there is a bad smell, so that we hold our breath reflexively. The mucous film ensures that it is moistened and the air is heated by a network of blood vessels located directly under the nasal mucous membrane. The colder the outside air, the more blood is supplied to the mucous membrane and the more the breathing air is heated.

In the mucous membrane-lined nasal cavities, turbinates and paranasal sinuses (including frontal, maxillary and sphenoid sinuses as well as ethmoid cells), the air is not warmed - as previously assumed. These cavities are only connected to the nose by small openings, so it takes a few minutes for the air there to be exchanged. Therefore, inflammation in this area is also relatively difficult to treat.


Of course, you can also breathe in and out through your mouth instead of your nose, so that the air flows through your mouth and into your throat. However, this abbreviation has significant disadvantages for the trachea and lungs. Because the cilia are missing in the mouth. Dust and other particles are not caught, and the air is warmed and humidified less than when it flows through the branching system of the nose. Long-term inhalation through the mouth (chronic mouth breathing) can therefore damage the lining of the airways and the lungs. It leads to greater contamination of the airways, so that pathogens can no longer be removed and the risk of lung diseases increases.