Last week we brought up the idea that shortness of breath on exertion for COPD patients is caused by air being “trapped” in the lungs, and the lungs becoming so overinflated that there is little or no room to breathe. Taking a rescue inhaler at this time is usually not very helpful because not much medication and air can get into the lungs due to the over-inflation. There is literally no room to breathe.

To relieve the symptom of shortness of breath at this time requires some understanding and practice. The first thing to do is relax which, at the time, is usually easier said than done. Next, sit with your hands on your knees or put your hands on a solid surface and lean on your arms. This helps to fix the shoulders and adds about 20% more power to your breathing. Then take a slow breath in and blow it out hard against pursed lips (Pursed lips are the way you hold your lips when whistling.). Push hard and empty completely. Repeat this maneuver 5 or 6 times. Then stop and relax and see if you feel better. You can repeat this maneuver as many times as you want and as often as you want when you experience shortness of breath with activity.

This technique of pursed lip breathing is easier to demonstrate than it is to describe. Maybe we can have some demonstrations this summer during Health-O-Rama at the Logan Valley Mall. I will let you know.