People who live with chronic lung diseases are most likely to experience shortness of breath. Most people agree that shortness of breath is one of the most alarming symptoms of chronic lung disease. Such diseases make it too inconvenient for people to breathe normally, so people often have trouble maintaining sufficient blood oxygen levels.
A breathing exercise which can help in reducing shortness of breath is pursed-lip breathing. Pursed lip breathing reduces breathlessness by slowing down the pace of a person’s breathing. This is particularly effective when the shortness of breath is caused by anxiety.
- To practice pursed-lip breathing at home, people can do the following.
- Relaxing the shoulders, sit upright in a chair.
- Press the lips together, leaving a small gap between them.
- Take breaths through the nose for a few seconds.
- Gently breathe out through the pursed lips for twice the time of inhalation.
- Repeat this breathing pattern a few times.
Shortness of breath is an often frightening and yet common symptom of chronic lung disease. Many people have even described the condition as ‘air hunger’. The main reason for this is because patients feel like they cannot seem to fill their lungs with oxygen. Sometimes, shortness of breath occurs as a sudden onset and without any known cause. This often happens with anxiety and chest tightness. If a patient experiences shortness of breath, they should follow the instructions given by the doctor and use prescribed inhalers as directed by the doctor. Even though shortness of breath is frightening, especially when trying to sleep, try to stay calm and consider trying positions to reduce shortness of breath.
Sleeping Positions to Reduce Shortness of Breath:
If the patient is at home or is awakened by an episode of shortness of breath, try to remain calm as much as possible and consider the following sleeping positions to help with shortness of breath.
Sleeping Position A
- Lie on the side.
- Keep a pillow between the knees.
- Raise the head with the help of a pillow or two.
- Keep the back as straight as possible.
- Relax and use breathing techniques such as pursed-lip breathing.
Sleeping Position B
- The patient should lie on their back.
- A pillow should be placed under the knees so that the knees are bent.
- Raise the head with a pillow or two.
- Relax and use breathing techniques.
Taking Steps Toward Easier Breathing
Following the advice of the doctor, taking medications at the right time in the right doses and learning about all the treatment options helps the patient stay proactive in their healthcare. Combined with the existing treatment plan and breathing techniques, there is a good chance that these positions can reduce shortness of breath and help the patient stay calm and breathe easier.