Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just Breathe

Looks like randomness is winning!  Which is good, because today, we're going really random.

This past weekend, I was competing at the Ohio Star Ball, the National Collegiate Ballroom Championships, in Columbus, Ohio.  While I'm exhausted now, with homework to do still, it was a great weekend.  Our team is incredible; although I left after my dances and haven't heard the final verdict yet, I'm pretty sure we won the competition for the 7th year in a row.  We also got to see some professional shows, which are ridiculously awesome.  My partner and I did pretty well too, so that's another benefit.

The downside of this all is that I'm now slightly sick.  I always get stuffy from the recycled air in hotel rooms, and I'm sure the lack of sleep didn't help.  What's worst about this isn't that I feel awful, because it's really not too bad, but that I hate breathing through my mouth.

This led me to discover that it's actually bad for you to breathe through your mouth regularly.  There's a whole Wikipedia article on it.  Not a legitimate source, I know, but I also found some articles by doctors on the subject.  Wikipedia is just easier to read.  It says, "Mouth breathing in children can be a cause of abnormal facial growth primarily in the upper and lower jaw shape".  What is that, you ask?  Long face syndrome, as far as I can tell, is an imbalance in the growth of the jaw that results in an overbite, an inability to close the mouth fully and even a small chin.  To illustrate, check out the photos here, and the video on how this issue can be surgically corrected here.  Neither the condition nor the corrective surgery look like fun to me.

Mouth breathing isn't just bad for children though.  In adults, it's known to dry out the mouth and lungs (as air isn't warmed or filtered the way it is when breathing through the nose), which contributes to halitosis.  In ballroom, bad breath is the last thing you want your partner to have, so watch out if your ever looking for a partner!  It's a good thing for all of us that the competition is over, as I wasn't the only stuffy one on the team.  Mouth breathing is also comorbid with (has an effect on, is affected by or both) sleep apnea, asthma, snoring, and obesity.  Not pleasant.

And it gets worse!  I was unaware of this, but in addition to these physical issues associated with it, the term "mouth breather" is apparently an insult, meaning that the person is stupid.  I can see where this comes from-- breathing through the mouth necessarily requires a slack jaw, which we tend to associate with stupidity (i.e. the phrase "slack-jawed idiot).  I didn't know it was officially considered an insult, but if Wikipedia says so, I'll listen, at least in this case.

With all this negativity, I can only hope that I'm reacting poorly to the hotel's ventilation system, rather than actually being sick.  Wouldn't want to be a mouth breather for too long if it's so unhealthy!

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