Controlled breathing (pursed lip breathing)

Your doctor or nurse may suggest that you learn to "breath control". This can help relieve shortness of breath (dyspnea) caused by various conditions. Note: Controlled breathing is in addition to any other drug or treatment that has been prescribed for your condition.

On this page

  • Why breathing controlled?
  • Controlled breathing technique
  • References

When shortness of breath, breathing may become too fast, too shallow, or jerky. Because of this you can not get much air into the lungs as possible. "Controlled breathing" (sometimes called "pursed lip breathing ') will help you get as much air as possible to the lungs. This can help relieve shortness of breath.'s A way to slow down the pace of breathing and make each breath as effective as possible.

It may be helpful to learn the art when it is relaxed. Perhaps practice the technique of 4-5 times a day at first. Then you can use it when you are short of breath, or when you have to do an activity that makes you short of breath, such as climbing stairs.

Your doctor or nurse will explain how to do controlled breathing. Here's a reminder:

1. Sit up straight, if possible

Sitting upright is generally better than lying down, or 'bent', which can increase the capacity of your lungs to fill with air.

2. Breathe in and out gently and purse your lips when exhaling

If possible, breathe through your nose and out through your mouth with a slow and steady pace. Try to keep your mouth shut when you breathe through your nose. As you exhale, wrinkle or 'bag' your lips (as if to whistle). This gives a slight resistance to the outflow of air. Try to make your breathing out twice as breathing in. This helps to empty your lungs of stale air, and to accommodate both the lungs for fresh oxygen rich air. This can be useful to have "one, two" as you breathe, and "one, two, three, four" as you exhale. Do not hold your breath between inhaling and exhaling.

3. If possible, we mainly use the diaphragm (pectoralis minor) breathing

The diaphragm is the large muscle below the lungs. It pulls down the lungs that expands the airways to allow air to flow in. When we become breathless, we tend to forget to use this muscle, and often use the muscles in the upper chest and shoulders in place . Every breath is deeper while using these upper pectoral muscles. Therefore, we tend to breathe faster and feel more encouragement if you use the upper chest muscles instead of your diaphragm.

You can check if you are using your diaphragm to feel just below the breastbone (sternum) in the upper part of your abdomen. If you give a little cough, you can feel the diaphragm pushes out here. If you hold your hand here you feel it come and go as you breathe.

4. Try to relax your neck, shoulders and upper chest muscles when breathing

It's best to "take the weight" of his shoulders, resting his arms on the side arms of a chair, or on your lap. A friend or relative standing behind you, gently massaging the shoulders, can encourage relaxation.