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Respiratory Guide: How to Breathe When You Are Short of Breath

Respiratory Guide: How to Breathe When You Are Short of Breath

Shortness of breath (dyspnea) is a medical condition where the affected person finds it hard to take the required amount of air into the lungs. People suffering from cardiopulmonary disease often experience shortness of breath as a persisting condition over a long time, even after recovering from the ailment.

It is important to mention here that the shortness of breath is not just limited to those suffering from heart and lung issues. You can feel shortness of breath due to seasonal allergies and severe flu as well. Shortness of breath is also one of the telltale symptoms of COVID-19.

Besides viruses and diseases, you can also experience shortness of breath as a healthy person during intense physical activity. While professional medical care is strongly recommended during acute phases of dyspnea, there are many effective home treatments to deal with shortness of breath.

Here, we will discuss some DIY measures regarding how to breathe when you are short of breath.

Pursed-Lip Breathing

It is the easiest and effective way to breathe when you feel short of breath for any reason. Whether it is a mild asthma attack or you are scaling through the staircase of a multistory building, pursed-lip breathing regulates your respiration pace and makes each breath deeper. Follow these steps to carry out pursed-lip breathing.

  • Let your shoulder and neck muscles loose
  • Slowly inhale through your nose longer than usual while keeping the mouth closed
  • Purse your lips as you are going to whistle or blow a candle
  • Exhale gently through the pursed-lips
  • Ensure your inhaling is two times the length of exhaling (e.g., breathing in for four seconds, breathing out for two seconds).

Stand with Supported Arms and Backs

Stand while keeping your hands on a support (table, chair, counter, etc.) also relaxes the body and eases the air passage.

  • Look out for the furniture that is below your shoulder height. Make sure the furniture is sturdy and doesn’t move with a slight push.
  • Rest your hands or elbows on the piece of furniture while keeping your neck and shoulder muscles relaxed.

If a suitable piece of furniture is not around, just go the wall and rest your hip on it.

  • Keep your feet apart in line with your shoulders and put your hands on your thighs.
  • Relax your shoulders, lean slightly forward, hang your arms, and try to breathe as deep as possible.

Sit in Forward-Leaning Position

Standing may feel like a lot of work when you are already struggling to breathe. In this case, sit down on a chair in a slightly forward-leaning position. Rest your hands on your thighs, and try to breathe as deeply as possible. If there is a desk with the chair, rest your head on its surface. If a pillow is not available, use your forearms to provide cushion to the head.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

This breathing technique comes handy when you are feeling shortness of breath. The technique is simple, and you can master it on your own during all the instances when you are not short of breath.

  • Sit, stand, or lie with your head, neck, and shoulders in a relaxed (slightly drooped) position.
  • Place your hand on the abdomen and slowly inhale through your nose. 
  • Then exhale through the mouth with pursed lips and also tighten your abdominal muscles.

Your emphasis should be more on exhales than inhales. Exhales should be longer and more forceful. Make a set of 10 reps and do 2-3 sets in one session. This will eventually activate your diaphragmatic breathing. With diaphragmatic breathing, you improve your lung capacity that subsequently tackles shortness of breath.

Train Your Ventilatory/Respiratory Muscles

People with strong inspiratory and expiratory muscles are less likely to experience shortness of breath. This is why athletes and sportspeople undergo intense ventilatory muscle training to ensure their performance isn’t affected by shortness of breath.

Orygen Dual Valve

Physicians also recommend patients suffering from chronic respiratory diseases to carry out ventilatory muscle training to strengthen their respiratory muscles.

A DIY respiratory training device allows you to undergo VMT by breathing in and out on different air pressures. The idea is to strengthen your inspiratory and expiratory muscles so that they can swiftly handle more air volume in one cycle.

A respiratory training device usually consists of a mouthpiece or nozzle, a pressure valve that controls the amount of air through the mouthpiece, and a clamp for the nose. Inhale and exhale through the mouthpiece while increasing the difficulty level by dropping the pressure through valves.

This breathing training at difficult air pressures come in handy when you feel shortness of breath. The training will enable you to respire through the mouth while using the strengthened respiratory muscles for the required air volume.

Orygen Valve offers easy-to-use respiratory training devices. The regular and right use of these devices strengthens your inspiratory and expiratory muscles. Subsequently, strengthened respiratory muscles can help you fight shortness of breath without needing medicines and professional intervention.