The two most common diseases associated with COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Other severe breathing conditions, for example irreversible asthma, are also included in the various diseases that comprise COPD. Individuals with these conditions typically suffer from:
- Difficulty breathing
- A chronic cough
- A buildup of mucus
- A feeling of tightness in the chest
Numerous studies that have shown that pursed lip breathing can have a beneficial effect on individuals suffering from COPD. As a consequence of these studies, many pulmonary rehabilitation programs now include pursed lip breathing as part of their rehabilitation programs.
The technique of pursed lip breathing is simple to explain. It involves taking a deep breath in through the nose, and then breathing out slowly through the mouth. The ratio of time of breathing in to breathing out should be approximately 1 to 3. For example, if somebody breathes in for 3 seconds, then they should breathe out slowly for 9 seconds. In general, the slower the process, the greater the benefit.
This breathing technique has a variety of benefits. In particular, it can help distribute more oxygen to the body and help to alleviate the stress caused by difficulty breathing. Furthermore, the increase in oxygen that pursed lip breathing provides makes the normal activities of life more comfortable.
When a person has COPD, their diaphragm usually becomes weakened. As a consequence, these individuals are not able to exhale fully. The result is that stale air remains trapped in their lungs. When air is trapped in the lungs, it leaves less room for fresh, oxygenated air. The result is that these individuals will feel constantly short of breath. They will also experience fatigue and discomfort, since they must use the muscles in their back and chest to force trapped air out of their lungs. A typical indication of people with a weakened diaphragm is their need to take many short, shallow breaths.
Using pursed lip breathing distributes more air to the body, and aids relaxation. This, in turn, increases the ability of their lungs ability to work in a more normal fashion. Although this breathing technique will not cure COPD, it can make a difference in one’s quality of life.
When people with COPD make a habit of pursed breathing, they can expect to see several benefits.
- Their breathing will become slower.
- Their breathing will become less shallow and less rapid.
- The involvement of muscles in other parts of the body will be reduced, causing the individual to feel more comfortable and less fatigued.
- Normal life activities become easier.
- The individual’s lung capacity increases.
- Most importantly, this breathing technique will help the individual rid their lungs of the stale air which is inhibiting their ability to take a deep breath, allowing them to more efficiently renew their oxygen supply.
Laurel Bay Health and Rehabilitation Center, in the scenic beach town of Keansburg, NJ, specializes in pulmonary care. Headed by leading pulmonary specialist Dr. Avtar Parhar, our program is the most highly advanced pulmonary rehabilitation program in Monmouth County. At Laurel Bay, we focus on restorative and preventive care for those who suffer with chronic respiratory disease.
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