This Simple Breathing Exercise Could Help You Fight Coronavirus
Breathing through your nose has many health benefits—including upping your virus immunity.
Alongside the rush to formulate, test, and distribute a vaccination for COVID-19, there is the tireless effort of doctors and scientists to discover more effective ways of treating it. And there may be a simple measure that anyone can take to stay safe from COVID-19: inhaling through your nose.
In a piece published by The Daily Beast, Louis J. Ignarro, PhD, Professor Emeritus from the UCLA School of Medicine and Nobel Prize winner, explains why researchers are testing whether inhaled nitrous oxide (NO) would improve the condition of coronavirus patients. And while there's no conclusive proof yet that this treatment can help doctors fight the pandemic, Ignarro recommends that people adopt a simple breathing exercise that introduces more NO into the body anyway. Not only could it help you fight off COVID-19; inhaling through your nose has a host of other health benefits.
"Your nasal cavities produce the molecule nitric oxide…that increases blood flow through the lungs and boosts oxygen levels in the blood," Ignarro writes. "Breathing in through the nose delivers NO directly into the lungs, where it helps fight coronavirus infection by blocking the replication of the coronavirus in the lungs."
As Ignarro states, there are currently clinical trials taking place spearheaded by Massachusetts General Hospital to determine whether inhaled NO is an effective COVID-19 treatment. He explains that "infants born with persistent pulmonary hypertension, a condition in which constricted pulmonary arteries limit blood flow and oxygen harvesting" are often treated with administered NO, which can be lifesaving.
The authors of the clinical study note that inhaled NO "has been found to have antiviral activity against other coronavirus strains," and that the trials aim to discover whether "inhaled NO improves short-term respiratory status, prevents future hospitalization, and improves the clinical course in patients diagnosed with COVID-19, specifically in the emergency department."
While NO administered by doctors could help patients hospitalized with COVID-19 turn a corner, Ignarro explains that all of us have the ability to improve the oxygen levels of our blood, which could help fight the virus. Your sinuses produce NO; so when you inhale through your nose, "you are delivering NO directly into your lungs, where it increases both airflow and blood flow and keeps microorganisms and virus particles in check," he says.
Per Healthline, nose breathing has several other benefits, from warming cold air before it hits your lungs to filtering out pollen and other small particles.
"Many people who exercise or engage in yoga also receive the benefits of inhaling through the nose instead of the mouth," Ignarro writes. "The higher oxygen saturation of the blood can make one feel more refreshed and provides greater endurance."
Think back to your last cold, when breathing through your nose was difficult or impossible: It probably made you feel even more sick and fatigued.
There are already many reasons to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth whenever possible; the coronavirus provides one more. And for the latest recommendations, The CDC Just Added 3 New Coronavirus Symptoms to Watch Out For.