Strategies for Living with Shortness of Breath

shutterstock 1689699829 Chronic lung diseases such as asthma and COPD often cause shortness of breath. When breathing does not occur normally, it can be difficult to maintain adequate blood oxygen levels. For this reason, it is important to seek clinical care for this symptom. At MXBowen PPC, Health & Breathing Center in NYC, we take a personalized, integrative approach to patient care that begins with evaluating all of the relevant systems that may be creating breathing issues. Here, we discuss a few tips on how breathing may be made easier through comfortable posture when sitting, standing, and lying down.

What is Shortness of Breath?

Shortness of breath can be a frightening symptom that occurs due to chronic lung disease. It is described by many patients as “air hunger.” The sensation is that the lungs cannot fill completely. In some instances, shortness of breath can come on suddenly and for no apparent reason. It may coincide with tightness in the chest and is often a cause for anxiety. People diagnosed with lung disease should follow their doctor’s instructions for managing shortness of breath. These may include using an inhaler or other medication. The symptom may also be managed to some degree through specific body positions.

Positions to Reduce Shortness of Breath

Seated positions that can help improve respiration include:

  • When sitting in a chair, place both feet flat on the floor. Lean forward slightly and place the elbows on the knees, with the chin resting in the hends. With the neck and shoulders relaxed, practice breathing techniques as outlined by a physician.
  • When sitting in a chair, if accessible, place a pillow on a table in front of the body. Keep the feet flat on the floor. Leaning forward slightly, place the arms outstretched on the table and rest the head on the pillow to practice breathing techniques.

Standing positions that can help improve respiration include:

  • With feet shoulder-width apart, lean the hips back against the wall. Rest the hands on the thighs and allow the shoulders to relax. Another option is to let the hands and arms dangle in front of the body. Lean forward slightly while practicing breathing techniques.
  • Use a strong piece of furniture that is just below shoulder height for stability. Place the elbows or hands on the object and lean forward slightly. With shoulders and neck relaxed, practice breathing techniques.

Sleeping positions to improve respiration include:

  • Lying on one side, place a pillow between the knees. Elevate the head on one or two pillows and, with a straight back, practice breathing techniques.
  • Lie on the back with a pillow under the knees to support a bent position. Elevate the head on a pillow or two. Relax the body as much as possible and practice breathing techniques.

Dr. Marc Bowen specializes in shortness of breath, asthma, chronic cough, bronchitis, COPD, sleep apnea, pulmonary function testing, and more. For expert treatment and long-term relief, contact our NYC practice at 212.480.4062 and schedule a consultation. We have two convenient locations to serve you.

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