An assessment of nasal functions in control of breathing

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1988 Oct;65(4):1520-4. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1988.65.4.1520.


Breathing pattern and steady-state CO2 ventilatory response during mouth breathing were compared with those during nose breathing in nine healthy adults. In addition, the effect of warming and humidification of the inspired air on the ventilatory response was observed during breathing through a mouthpiece. We found the following. 1) Dead space and airway resistance were significantly greater during nose than during mouth breathing. 2) The slope of CO2 ventilatory responses did not differ appreciably during the two types of breathing, but CO2 occlusion pressure response was significantly enhanced during nose breathing. 3) Inhalation of warm and humid air through a mouthpiece significantly depressed CO2 ventilation and occlusion pressure responses. These results fit our observation that end-tidal PCO2 was significantly higher during nose than during mouth breathing. It is suggested that a loss of nasal functions, such as during nasal obstruction, may result in lowering of CO2, fostering apneic spells during sleep.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Airway Resistance
  • Carbon Dioxide / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Male
  • Mouth Breathing
  • Nose / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange
  • Respiration*
  • Tidal Volume


  • Carbon Dioxide