Does Drinking Water Helps Breathing Problems?

Water has been called the “universal solvent.” It dissolves more substances than any other liquid. Some people don’t realize that it also helps to breathing problems such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), commonly known as emphysema or chronic bronchitis.

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Drinking water is widely believed to help with breathing problems. However, no scientific proof has been found that this is the case.

The opposite may be true or there may be some other cause for the effect that is seen in studies on this topic. Some of these studies are poorly constructed and therefore useless, others have lost sight of important control groups, while some had too few participants to obtain scientifically valid results.

This means that none of them can prove anything about how drinking water might affect breathing problems. However, even if they could not prove any effect on breathing problems, all of them are interesting reads for people who are interested in water therapy.

Moreover, after an overview of these studies, it becomes clear that there might be some scientific proof available that drinking water affects breathing problems.

The connection between drinking water and breathing problems may not be obvious, but if you think about it, it makes sense: we breathe better when we swallow. Swallowing triggers the nerve impulses that cause muscles to contract and relax in a sequence that clears mucus from our breathing passages and draws air into and out of our lungs.

When saliva contains too much salt, however, breathing becomes difficult.

         Our bodies need only small amounts of salt, but we get it from many of the foods we eat. Too much salt is bad for our health. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that adults in the United States who have no serious kidney problems limit their salt intake to 2,400 milligrams a day (about one teaspoon).

Americans on average eat about 3,500 milligrams of sodium a day — about 1 ½ teaspoon — more than twice the recommended amount. Many people with breathing problems also have high blood pressure and heart disease, so they should avoid consuming more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day.


A few drinks of water won’t do the trick; you must drink at least eight glasses a day to see results. If you don’t usually drink this much water, it might be hard at first to get used to the taste. You may even feel bloated or get a headache.

However, after about two weeks you will become accustomed to eight glasses of water a day and begin seeing the results intended: healthier lungs and breathing passages. During this time limit caffeine consumption because caffeine is a diuretic that causes you to lose more fluid than usual through urination.

Health benefits aside, drinking plenty of water can also have a positive effect on your appearance. If you don’t drink enough water, your skin will look dry and dull. Water makes up 60% of an adult’s body weight and 75% of a child’s body weight. That’s why many people think drinking water helps maintain a healthy weight.

Although drinking plenty of water can’t replace other treatments for breathing problems, it does help the body’s natural functions and may reduce medication side effects. If you have a breathing problem, drink eight glasses of water a day for healthier lungs and better breathing.

Why does water help you breathe easier?

Water helps thin mucus so that it’s not as thick and sticky. This makes it easier for your lungs to remove mucus from the airways. Also, when you drink a lot of liquid, especially cool water, the increased amount in your stomach may trigger reflex urges to take deep breaths or cough.

Water, especially cool water, can help loosen the mucus that has already built up in your chest. Then you can expel it by coughing.

Acidic fruit juices like orange juice and grapefruit juice are not good for people with breathing problems because they make mucus thicker. Water is usually the best choice when you have a respiratory problem such as asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema. 

You should avoid drinking milk, however. Milk contains proteins called casein, which thicken mucus once it’s in the airways of the lungs. Drinking milk could make breathing more difficult for you.

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