Protect Yourself from SARS
Healthy Guy, M.A

Your Internet Health and Fitness Prophet

Posted: Sunday, May 11, 2003 at 2:07 AM PST

Do you inhale through your mouth when you breathe or do you inhale through your nose? It may all come down to just that simple normal involuntary process that everyone does every second of the day that may determine whether you live or die in the event you catch the deadly SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus.

If you want to stay alive with the threat of SARS appearing to be lurking around every corner, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth instead of vice versa may just be one of the most important things that you could do to keep you from dying of complications from SARS.

The fact that people are dying after contracting SARS does not mean that their death is directly related to the virus. The most likely scenario is that their death is indirectly related to the SARS virus and directly related to one of the eighty known types of pneumonia such as Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Streptococcus is the most common cause of community-acquired pneumonia. This is an airborne bacteria that loves finding moisture in your lungs, causes respiratory failure, and without the proper treatment death may be inevitable since pneumonia is often the last illness in those individuals who have chronic or debilitating diseases. In addition, there is much evidence to show that those with weakened immune systems are more likely to contract pneumonia.

Two million people in the U.S. develop pneumonia each year, and as much as 3.5% or 40,000 to 70,000 die.  The majority of these deaths could be avoided with exercise, diet, a strong immune system, proper breathing techniques, and by taking every measure to keep the lungs from being irritated.

It is quite obvious that the SARS virus is a potent one that may really knock you for a loop should you contract it since it is capable of replicating in the respiratory tract, causing irritation to the lungs, and thus making a person more susceptible to one of the many airborne bacterial pneumonia organisms. That is why it is important that you learn how to breathe properly. The objective is to keep excessive moisture and debris out of your lungs and the worst thing you can do is to inhale air in through your mouth because it brings unwanted moisture, dirt, and dust particles into the lungs setting the stage for irritation and a possible bacterial infection like pneumonia.

To make matters worse, contracting a virulent virus strain like SARS can be double whammy because it may turn into a very serious respiratory illness making it difficult to breathe through your nose. Now the stage has been set and the two active ingredients of physical inactivity and excessive moisture in the lungs are in place. These are the two critical factors that set the stage for contracting pneumonia.

Moisture is more likely to get into the lungs during periods of inactivity.  Lack of exercise from being inactive in bed and not being able to breathe properly through ones nose due to congestion in the nasal passages is just what the pneumococcus bacteria is waiting for because it loves moisture.

SARS, nevertheless, should be more of a concern to the health community than a bacteria, a fungus, or a parasite simply because it is a virus. Most people do not realize that once you get a virus you have it for life and that you can never get rid of a virus. That is because a virus is smaller than the size of the hole in a cellular wall inside your body.  So it has plenty of nice hiding places making it impossible to eradicate with medication unlike a bacteria which is too large to get inside a cell but can be eradicated with antibiotics.

Once a virus gets inside a cell in your body it goes to sleep, goes dormant, forms a hard shell around itself for protection, and starts mutating into different variations of the virus. So when your immune system gets weak and your health starts to deteriorate, any virus that you may have picked up along the way may wake up many years later and take over the body again.  That's what viruses are all about.  A good example is the chicken pox virus that is contracted in childhood. It eventually mutates into the shingles virus which may come out again under certain conditions of stress and a failing immune system at a much later stage in your life.

However, viruses have different classifications.  AIDS is a retrovirus and that is why it is so deadly as retroviruses can be known to be quite deadly by attacking the white blood cells and making you defenseless. Nevertheless, SARS is not a retrovirus and has been classified as a coronavirus. So why is it so deadly? It is only obvious, and the clue is right in its name, SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The keyword is respiratory. This virus irritates the respiratory tract and makes you more susceptible to pneumonia.

In regards to how people spread SARS, other than coughing or sneezing, other possible modes of transmitting this virus appear to be somewhat of an enigma. However, knowing that the virus can survive for up to four days in fecal matter and four days under refrigeration seem to show that insects such as flies and cockroaches could even have the potential to spread the SARS virus since both live in feces. Therefore, you should take extra precaution not to allow your food to be exposed to that class of common Insecta which are known for spreading contagious diseases. 

People commonly forget to put their food away at night exposing it to insects like cockroaches who defecate in the food while they are eating it.  These same people wake up in the morning and find they have left their food out all night.  They then put the same food back into the refrigerator having no idea that a cockroach has contaminated it during the night. This is a common way that infected cockroaches  typically spread the protozoan parasite, Entamoeba histolytica, to humans. Could they be spreading the SARS virus from sewage in the same way?

As a matter of fact, many lower animals are capable of transmitting this virus and poultry is suspected as being culpable in the initial spread of SARS in the rural areas of Guangdong Province in Southern China where it is thought that the virus originated by spreading back and forth among chickens, ducks, and pigs and then eventually to humans due to their close proximity to each other. Even the Civet Cat that is raised and eaten in the city of Guangzhou in Guangdong Province has been found to be a carrier of SARS.  Perhaps this is a good time to be a vegetarian.

Nevertheless, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from excessive moisture in the lungs and other possible lung irritations like dirt and dust particles, is to always breathe in through your nose and never, under any circumstances, inhale through your mouth. This will help filter the moisture and debris from the air to keep your lungs clean and free of any possible sources of irritation. It is even more critical that you pay close attention to your breathing techniques when there is lots of moisture in the air.

So what steps can you take to keep moisture out of your lungs if you have contracted SARS? Try jogging in place taking extra care to concentrate on proper deep breathing. Breathe as deeply as you can by breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. This will help get any excess moisture out of the lungs. This also works with any aerobic activity.

There is no doubt SARS is a virulent virus strain but when people become inactive, lie in bed, fail to breathe properly by inhaling through their mouth because they don't know any better or can't breathe through their nose due to complications from SARS, the stage is being set to contract pneumonia. So breathe properly by inhaling through your nose at all times and immediately see a doctor if you have any signs or symptoms of the SARS virus. This will allow your physician to prescribe the proper treatment and assess your condition. Nevertheless, make a conscious effort to breathe properly and stay active.  This will help keep the moisture and debris out of your lungs and the deadly pneumococcus bacteria will have no place to live.


  1. Civet Cat Cited As SARS Origin. The Hindu.

  2. Cockroaches may have spread mystery illness. Houston Chronicle,

  3. Feces May Contribute to SARS Spread. USA TODAY,

  4. Pneumonia. John G. Bartlett, M.D.,

  5. Special Report: SARS Virus on the Move. CNN,

Home | About | Just Ask | Register | Order

Copyright © 2003 HealthyGuy All Rights Reserved.

Please report any needed corrections to the Webmaster