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What’s the best way to keep nasal passages open?

This question was posed to me, and I decided it deserved a thorough (and expanded) answer.

1. If we focus on the nose itself, nasal passages can be physically obstructed by something like a deviated septum or enlarged turbinates. In those cases surgery is necessary. If congestion is the issue, seek the help of an allergist or try over the counter nasal medicines.

2. In some situations, night-time breathing can be much improved by using a device like Mute ( (and/or mouth taping). Obviously if there are underlying problems contributing to difficulty nasal breathing, these will not help, and may even harm.

3. In general, the more you nasal breathe, the easier it becomes. An unused nasal passage will have increased congestion, creating a vicious cycle.

A great technique to help improve and train nasal breathing is the Buteyko method. Patrick McKeown has a website, books, and YouTube channel - all of which are great! (


4. Finally, look past the nose. All of the following can contribute to difficulty nasal breathing:

  • Enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids

  • Weak or tethered tongue

  • Poor tongue posture (tongue not resting against the roof of your mouth)

  • Other problems of the mouth and throat tissues