If you're standing and holding your nose closed, it becomes quickly uncomfortable; although you can breath fully through your mouth, it still feels like your lacking air since you're naturally trying to breath through your nose and you can feel the restriction.

On the other side, when swimming with a nose plug, you can have your nose totally shut down, breath only through the mouth and somehow you do not have the feeling of nose obstruction blocking your air intake.

Why is this?

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Thomas, could you include some kind of citation for the uncomfortable feeling you describe when plugging your nose. Ive never noticed/heard of this phenomenon. Could it have to do with humidity? If you're standing and breathing through your mouth it likely gets dry quickly where if you're breathing through your mouth at a pool, the humidity keeps it from drying out. $\endgroup$
    – hamilthj
    Apr 20 '17 at 14:19
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    $\begingroup$ I explained the feeling more clearly, where it's a restriction that matters standing on land and one we totally ignore when swimming. $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Apr 20 '17 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ The holding your nose shut is uncomfortable because you are not holding any air in your nose, as for the nose plugs I think you should just blow out your nose while jumping in, it works for me. $\endgroup$
    – preston
    Apr 20 '17 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Thomas, a source for this feeling would still be nice, I have never experienced it, not unless you are talking about the throat drying out. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 20 '17 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ the best example I can give you is to stand, hold your nose shut. you can breath, but someone it is not very comfortable, you can feel that something is altered. My orl told me a while back that the nose has a sense of air velocity which is used by the brain, but I don't have any data to know if this is the case. $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Apr 25 '17 at 14:04

One possible answer for your question could have to do with the level of exercise the subject is doing.

While the nasal passage is the main route for breathing, it provides cleaner air and allows for more even and slow respiration rates, a greater volume of air can pass through the mouth LaComb.

There is no discomfort in mouth breathing during exercise because mouth breathing can deliver greater amounts of oxygen and release greater amounts of CO2; it is the preferred method of breathing for increased activity.

Secondly, discomfort in oral breathing stems from a perception of breathlessness due to stimulation of receptors in the oral mucosa. When patients were required to breath orally with humidified air, no instances of breathlessness were reported (Source).

Based on these two studies, when exercising oral-breathing is required to deliver adequate amounts of O2. Therefore, nasal-breathing is not required and an obstruction of the nasal passage is not percieved. When exercising in a pool, discomfort of oral-breathing is diminished due to the humidity of the surrounding air. When not exercising, and breathing orally in low humidity air, discomfort is felt due to the stimulation of receptors in the oral mucosa.

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    $\begingroup$ The study you quote seems to conclude that around 60 L/min of air (for males) people switch from nasal to oral breathing. It is possible that, while exercising, that threshold is reached and nasal breathing doesn't matter anymore. I'll wait for a bit more feedback to see if this is the case. $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Apr 20 '17 at 14:43
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    $\begingroup$ "Mouth breathing at rest could be uncomfortable because the oxygen delivery is greater than needed and more importantly too much CO2 is expelled." This is just a guess, and an inaccurate one. Breathing is regulated by blood CO2 and O2 concentrations, not the other way around, so mouth breathing will not cause 'too much O2' or too little CO2 unless it is intentionally too deep/frequent (hyperventilation). The reason it's disliked is that we are accustomed (correctly so) to having a moist oral mucosa, and mouth breathing causes mucosal dryness. In the water/shower, this doesn't happen. $\endgroup$ Apr 21 '17 at 1:40
  • $\begingroup$ Just do it for an hour. No cheating, no drinking, no candy, etc. If you do, and you still need a reference to believe that it causes discomfort, let me know. $\endgroup$ Apr 22 '17 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ I've removed conjecture and provided reference to an additional study which hopefully provides a more comprehensive answer to your question $\endgroup$
    – hamilthj
    Apr 24 '17 at 19:20

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