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Help for a nose breather?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by Absolutbill, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. Absolutbill

    Absolutbill Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Naples, Florida, United States
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    32
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    My wife is having trouble with her mask. We have around 50 dives and she seemed to be fine, it turns out she was super tightening her strap, so when she switched to a slap strap the problem worsened. We tried three different masks, all fit fine in the shop but give her trouble under water. Then I noticed small bubbles dimming from her masks on a dive, it seems she is constantly exhaling from her nose. When she put a mask on for a test fit it was fine until she did a couple of rounds of breathing then it falls off.

    Any suggestions on helping her stop breathing unconsciously through her nose while diving?


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  2. g1138

    g1138 Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Charleston, SC
    3,068
    806
    113
    There's two ways. One is blind in water practice. No mask swimming with a snorkel in your mouth; just keep trying till you get it. If your wife is weird enough that she does this skill fine without inhaling water, but still have the exhaling nose problem, then try putting the mask on partially so the nose is unsealed (ei bottom of mask skirt is resting on the tip of her nose). Or just practice with a mask on as usual.

    The scientific explanation behind it is a bit long but basically goes as so. You need to have independent control of your epiglottis and soft palate.
    Your soft palate is the valve behind and above your dangly bit in your throat (the uvula). It blocks air flow from your nose to your throat and opens downward into your throat.

    Your epiglottis is responsible for holding your breath and is located below your throat. It blocks air from your lungs to your throat.

    The problem with nose breathers is they don't have independent control, so when they stop breathing from their nose, they also hold their breath. So the overall solution to help your wife overcome this problem is simply, keep your soft palate closed so all air flow is through your mouth.
    An exercise to break this habit is a 3 parter.

    1) Cup your hand over your mouth and try to breath all your lungs out your mouth. Stop all air from escaping using your hand alone.
    At an instant, pull your hand away.
    Air should immediately escape until you have fully exhaled. If there was a pause, it meant you were holding your breath. If you were successful, move to part 2.

    2) Do the same as above, cup your hand over your mouth and try to exhale. This time, with your hand still over your mouth, blocking air, release air out your nose. Without pause you should feel a jolt up and behind your uvula, and air should escape out your nose. This jolt is your soft palate opening opposite of the air flow. If there was no jolt or a pause, then you were holding your breath right before you made the switch. If you were successful, move to part 3.

    3) Hold you hand over your mouth and try to exhale. Switch to your nose. Before you finish your exhale this time, switch back to your mouth (your hand should still be blocking). Let some air out by releasing your hand, then quickly cup your hand back to block air and switch back to your nose.
    Alternate, keeping pace with a musical tune: one-and-two-and-one-and-two. If you can keep this up and successfully alternate, then congratulations. You found independent control of your epiglottis and soft palate. Remember that feeling and what you did and try to take that skill in the water with a no mask snorkel swim.
     
    PfcAJ likes this.
  3. giffenk

    giffenk Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: toronto
    4,924
    2,406
    113
    Hold on. There are nose inhalers and nose exhalers. I normally exhale via my nose. I am not sure there is anything wrong with this behavior. Inhaling is an issue.
     
  4. jIM STEELE

    jIM STEELE Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: ALAMO CALIF
    186
    17
    18
    put a large bowel in your lap with a little water in it and a mask on thats half full of water watch tv and breath throught the snorkel learn to control the mussels that close off the nostrils in throat also learn how to use your toung to make air come out your nose with your mouth open

    ---------- Post added April 9th, 2013 at 10:42 PM ----------

    also get a m12 ist mask with large purge valve in a large pocket so the water is in front of nose not under nose
     
  5. Quero

    Quero Will be missed Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Phuket, Thailand
    9,494
    2,246
    0
    No, there's nothing "wrong" with exhaling out the nose in the sense that it won't hurt you at all, but it does break the seal of the mask and tends to cause leakage as well as fogging. I can always tell when I've got nose breathers among my divers because there are bubble streams coming out from their masks from above their eyebrows. When the bubbles break the seal at the top of the mask, water seeps in, and if a diver finds having that water in the mask uncomfortable, it can become a problem. Similarly, it's frustrating to have recurring mask-fogging issues.
     
  6. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

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    I'm not seeing the problem. Exhaling from the nose shouldn't cause the fit of the mask to change. What kind of trouble is she having exactly?

    R..
     
  7. Absolutbill

    Absolutbill Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Naples, Florida, United States
    120
    32
    28
    Tons of leaking from masks, she dry fits a mask. Puts it on her face and inhales through her nose and it is fine for a couple seconds or if she is holding her breath, but when she starts breathing the mask falls off. This has led to a lot of leaking under water and her mask filling up especially right after a giant stride entry.


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  8. windapp

    windapp Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Windsor Ontario
    614
    140
    0
    I have similar trouble as I am a nose breather. It's more natural for me to exhale through my nose, and most people do when they swim. It does make mask fitting more difficult as the simple suction test is no longer all telling. Some masks seal better under these circumstances, but the only real way to tell is to try them out. I think , but have not confirmed, that if a mask stays on your face with only the lightest suction, it is more likely to stay sealed even when you exhale through your nose.

    Incidentally, the fogging doesn't occur because you are breathing out of your nose, but rather because you are continually rinsing the defog out of the mask.
     
  9. g1138

    g1138 Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Charleston, SC
    3,068
    806
    113
    In order to keep a mask on your face
    - without the strap
    - on dry land
    - and breathing from your mouth

    You have to keep your soft palate closed with your nasal cavity at a lower pressure than the surrounding atmospheric pressure. This means inhaling into the mask, closing the soft palate, and breathing only from your mouth. The method I described above still holds ground for nose exhalers and inhalers. The problem is the same, those divers lack independent control of their soft palate from the epiglottis. It's kinda the same concept for people who can't wink; you just need to learn how to utilize the muscles out of unison. It's simply a muscle memory issue.
     
  10. Linedog

    Linedog Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Washington state
    375
    149
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    From a certified nose breather, it took me around 75 dives to relax and not concentrate on breathing threw my mouth only. Hang in there it will happen.
     

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