Before I became a respiratory therapist, I thought that I knew how to breathe. I guess I just took it for granted that you inhale and exhale and that’s it. But it turns out that there are many breathing techniques that can help in various situations (i.e., stress, shortness of breath, and anxiety.) I will discuss just a few breathing techniques that we employ for our lung impaired patients, and some techniques that are used to help with stress or anxiety.
In the western world, we don’t breathe properly. We are a bunch of “shallow breathers” who quickly go about our business to get to the next task. The total lung capacity of an adult male is approximately 6 liters of air (the size of three large soda bottles). But when we breathe, on average we only take in about 0.5 liters of air each breath, and for people with impaired lungs, it is even less. When we are stressed or short of breath, we tend to pant or take shallow breaths. This does not allow the full amount of oxygen to enter the bloodstream and it causes us to blow off too much of our carbon dioxide.
This is a breathing technique that is taught to every patient who is diagnosed with lung disease and becomes short of breath. It can be used by anyone at any time and is employed by weightlifters and bodybuilders routinely. The premise of this technique is that by “pursing” the lips, you create a back pressure in the airway keeping it from prematurely collapsing down on exhalation. To do this maneuver, the patient is instructed to breathe in deeply through the nose only and exhale through pursed lips. This also helps to slow breathing down and keep carbon dioxide from being expelled too quickly. It also allows oxygen time to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Also called “belly breathing”, this technique is employing the diaphragm instead of the rib and neck muscles to do the work of breathing. Our diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle that pulls down on the lungs to fill them and pushes upon them to empty them. People who suffer from lung disease have damaged diaphragms. Either the diaphragm is no longer functioning as it used to because of “over-inflation” of the lungs pushing down on the muscle making it flat instead of dome-shaped or the nerve that innervates it is impaired. To perform diaphragmatic breathing, it is recommended that the patient sit comfortably and place a hand on the belly. When inhaling through the nose, the belly should rise and exhalation should be done through the mouth for twice as long as inhalation. Not only does this help to fill and empty the lungs properly, but it is also a form of mindful breathing and can help with anxiety and stress.
This is an excellent and easy way to practice mindful breathing. Simply put, you breathe in slowly through the nose for a full four seconds, hold that breath in for 7 seconds, and slowly, slowly exhale for a total of 8 seconds. It helps to slow down breathing and the absorption of oxygen. It also helps to slowly expel carbon dioxide from the lungs. I am a practitioner of this technique and it has been a fantastic way for me to decrease stress and anxiety.
Breathing techniques are important for energy conservation as well as for overall well-being. If you suffer from breathing issues or are short of breath with certain activities of daily living, try to use an alternative way to breathe so that you can be more comfortable when you are active. None of these techniques are dangerous. You can perform them anywhere at any time to help overcome some of your breathing obstacles.
Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.
My name is Laura Castricone and I am a Certified Respiratory Therapist. I have been practicing in the state of Connecticut since 1992. I have worked in several aspects of respiratory care including ...
Resistance exercise bands come in a number of colors and it’s not just for decoration. Many people use these bands however, they do not have the knowledge of the colors and the purpose with which they are designed.
A syringe is a pump consisting of a snugly fit piston(or plunger) within a calibrated glass or plastic cylinder called a barrel.The syringe is equipped with a hypodermic needle, nozzle, or tubing that helps direct the flow of medication.
Breathing disorders, such as COPD or asthma, can be a major detriment when it comes to quality-of-life issues.Treating these breathing ailments with medications is the main course of treatment.Being able to deliver aerosol medication directly into the lungs in an expedited fashion is the best way to manage these lung disorders. The use of a nebulizer for aerosol medications allows for the efficient and easy delivery of these medications.
An enema is used for many reasons.Just as there are many reasons, there are different types of enemas, each of which contains different ingredients and works differently in the body. While some may choose an enema to soften stool or for routine colon cleansing, the reason for using an enema may have more of a medical necessity.
Cervical traction is a technique applied to the cervical region of the body to help alleviate neck pain, discomfort, and other physical conditions related to the cervical region.Cervical traction works by stressing the neck, pulling, and pushing, thus reducing the pressure on the spine, the neck, and the upper torso.Excessive stress on the neck, spine, and upper region, due to a wide range of conditions or injuries can cause severe pain and can lead to other complications.Cervical traction devices help alleviates these conditions thus offering overall body rehabilitation and treatment options.