MadSci Network: Anatomy

Re: Why can't you breathe through your mouth and nose at the same time?

Date: Tue Dec 5 14:26:00 2000
Posted By: Michael Onken, Admin, MadSci Network
Area of science: Anatomy
ID: 976032633.An

With some practice, you can breathe through your mouth and nose simultaneously. (At least I can.) In general, your soft palate and uvula are pulled back against the back of your pharynx (upper throat) to isolate the nasal cavity from the esophagus during eating and mouth breathing, and then opened and pressed against the back of the tongue to separate the oral cavity from the pharynx during relaxed, nasal breathing. Most of this occurs unconsciously; however, most of the muscles that control these processes are also under voluntary motor control, so that it is quite possible to hold the soft palate such that it does not contact either surface, leaving both the oral and nasal cavities open to the pharynx.

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