Unfortunately as our disease progresses this becomes more of a reality. It is a good reminder of what to when when we find ourselves in those situations.
Help, I Can’t Breathe! By Janet Plank—October 8, 2017
Are you having trouble breathing? Hyperventilating? Just can’t get air? With COPD, it can often feel like we’re frantic to breathe. There are so many things that can affect our breathing:
Smoking: This can increase risk for COPD, cancer and more. Smoking can affect your COPD and make it more difficult to breathe. It can affect your lungs and cause an exacerbation. It can damage your air sacs and the lining of your lungs.
Environment: Second-hand smoke, pollution, chemicals and fumes, paint, dust, wood smoke, strong odors, perfumes, pet dander, etc. can all affect your lungs. Breathing chemicals in can cause a burn to your lungs. Being around these things can all cause damage and make it much more difficult to breathe.
Exacerbation: This is when you experience a worsening of your COPD. This can be caused by infection, pneumonia and more. Don’t wait to see your doctor, call and make an appointment. You may be treated with medication, such as antibiotics and a steroid. You may be able to go home. Some with severe exacerbation may be hospitalized.
Exercise: Exercise is so important, but it can also make you feel incredibly breathless and hungry for air. But as hard as it is to believe, it can help to slow the progression of your disease as well as helping to increase your lung volume.
Being overweight: This can make it more difficult to breathe as you have more weight to carry around. Inflammation can affect fat tissue and excess fat can constrict the lungs, making it harder to breathe. It’s important to lose some of that weight and to have nutritious meals.
Just as there are many things that can make us feel breathless, there are many things that can help.
When you are struggling to breathe and need to get your breathing under control, or to reduce anxiety, try pursed lip breathing. Breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth until you are in control. It should take you longer to breathe out, than it does to breathe in. You could also try diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing.
Here are 2 methods that have helped me:
While sitting, place your elbows on your desk. Stretch yourself upward. You should feel your belly move outward and you should feel your diaphragm stretching up. Do the Pursed Lip Breathing. Do you find yourself able to control your breathing? Do it again. This is one that I find so helpful as I can stretch my body and muscles, as well. This seems to help me with my breathing, also when I get the bronchospasms.
Stand next to a table or the back of a couch. Lean forward with your hands on the table, couch or other. Stretch yourself upward. As with the sitting exercise you will notice that your diaphragm fills, as your belly pushes outward. Breathe, do your pursed lip breathing. Repeat.
Do you feel your diaphragm and upper body relax? Has your breathing improved?
Also, if you have an opportunity to go to pulmonary rehab, do go. There, they will teach you breathing techniques, exercises and more. Exercise is so very important. Discuss this with your doctor. If pulmonary rehab is available, see if he/she will refer you.
Protect your lungs and take care of your health. Remember to pace yourself, and as always, breathe-easy friends!
pursed lip breathing works good for me for awhile, but then i feel like i need to start "gasping'' for air---i do it like i was shown & it works for about 10 breathes but then i feel like i need to open my mouth & inhale really deep - like i'm starving for ain. maybe that is because i don't have a retention problem?
Sharon, i'm so sorry to hear that you are having such a hard time with SOB. Not to be nosey, but do you take an anti-anxiety med (benzodiazapene)for it? It helps me A LOT!!!! i take one that i can dissolve in my mouth so it works even faster when i really need it bad. If you don't take one, you might want to talk to your Pulmonologist about it. When I was put on a certain medication for my pain, it worked wonders for my breathing also. Hospice uses this medication just to prevent the "air starved" feeling in patients. I hope you find some answers. PM me if you want to just visit ((((HUG))))
Of course I have also found that I HAVE to slow down & pace myself walking. I'm like a turtle, but as long as I walk slow I don't get as SOB. Even just walking the short distance in my house to kitchen or bathroom, if i don't concentrate & walk slow, i am huffing & puffing before i get there (& it's not like i have a big house).
Jade; interesting about the vic's rub. I suck on honey-lemon "mentholated" lozenges all day long as that opens up my breathing passages and helps with my dryness at the same time.
Thanks jarca, at least I am not alone in my misery. It get so tiresome getting sob several times a day. I try to get a walk in and use my stationary bike and dumbells for my arms, get sob stop and go again . Got done with rehab a few months ago and kept up my exercise, but my pulmy nurse still insists its deconditioning. I dont, I think my lungs, copd is worsening.
Sharon, I am sorry that your nurse thinks it is solely that you need "conditioning". Unfortunately, those who haven't experienced ANY disease can't truly understand. yes, i keep in the best shape possible, but each year it's different what i can do (this is progressive)---the 'do a little, sit a little' has slowly switched from how much i do to how much i sit. Now days, sitting outweighs doing; whereas 5 years ago doing outweighed sitting My PCP had an intern in his office once & he described my breathing as "breathing thru a straw". I interrupted & said that ISN'T how it feels to me; I feel like i have a corset on too tight that i can't inhale.....it may have been rude, but i just get tired of others trying to say how i feel. bad me---off to corner.
Jarca ; I'm like you every year . I sit more and do less even exercise takes my breath away. I have progressed slowly down ward in the last five years but now I think I have hit a leveling off shelf for a period of time. The last two years seem to have declined faster than the previous 10 years ,but have slowed a little this fall . I think I have reached the new me for awhile . Thanks for your input .It's nice to know I'm not the only one .
I've found that I have to practice the pursed lip breathing everyday when I do my exercises and then when I get short of breath it just kinda kicks in for me. Before I started practicing it I couldn't do it very long and thought I was going to pass out from not enough O2. I also have massage therapy to release the diaphragm. Here is a web site about it there are many sites but this one has a pretty good explanation of how it works. I had to tell my massage therapists about it as they didn't know about it themselves however my physiotherapist knew. www.massagetherapycanada.com/operations/breath-of-life-2395
thank you, Jade! I have forgotten to do many of the things I used to that were listed. 2016 I had a really good breathing year & i quit doing many of the things i had done in the past..... Now that I am having 'normal' bad breathing, I forgot many of the things I did previously that are on that list you posted! (BTW; that 1 good year my dr said is common for copd'ers to have as this is kind of a downhill but roller coaster disease---he drew me a simple picture to show how it works; too bad i can't draw on here )
I used to always drink ginger tea when i went to bed & it really helped me! It seemed to break up that flem that catches in my throat & won't budge, but it also made my GERD so much better (i liked mine with some lemon & a bit of honey)....tomorrow I'm going to go get some ginger!!!
great points & so happy people are posting these 'reminders' that seem to have just disappeared from my memory----no wonder my breathing has gotten so bad, i'm not doing the things that used to help!