Monday, May 26, 2014

In Defense of Mouth Breathers

I had a chance to spend some time with my oldest brother.  He has a truck that works.  I don't.

I bought a generator and needed a way to get it home.  I twisted his arm.  He obliged.

I noticed that he was coughing, and sneezing and wheezing.  "Allergies?"  I asked.

"Oh, yeah.  They are kicking my but."  he replied.

Family history

As a kid I was pummelled with allergies.  It was just part of the genetic heritage from my parents.  All of the kids received this gift.  It was just part of who we were as a family.

In my later adulthood most of the symptoms seemed to abate.  I assumed it was one of the few good things about aging.  Spending the day with my older brother caused me to rethink things.

I think it  is because I took up running in my mid-40s.

Tonsils and adenoids

One of the functions of tonsils and adenoids is to tickle the food as it goes down the hatch.  They are a bit like the whiskers on a catfish, except their function is not to taste the food but to inform our immune system that the tiny amounts of unaltered proteins that will perfuse through our gut walls are FOOD, not the proteins of foreign invaders.  In effect, they tell our bodies not to mount an immune response on those proteins that were first vetted by the tonsils and adenoids.

Allergies are an immune system response.  They are rather primitive.  They can be very uncomfortable, even life threatening, in part because they are mechanical and not very specific.

It is difficult to avoid mouth breathing when working hard.   If working hard, outside, than each jet of incoming air....with all of its potential allergens....will impact the tonsils and adenoids and those potential allergens (pollens, usually) will hit your tonsils like bumblebees hitting the windshield of your truck.  Your tonsils (and adenoids) will issue them a press pass, or diplomatic immunity just as if they were a plate of scrambled eggs-and-ham..  If, on the other hand, you rarely go outside or if you rarely work hard enough to stress your air induction system you will never reap the benefits of mouth breathing.

So, contrary to current usage, not all mouth breathers are extremely stupid, dim-witted blocks of beef.  Rather, the subset of us to mouth breath because/when we are busting our butts in the great outdoors are honed, refined and sophisticated specimens, finely in tune with our environment.

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