People who have COPD have to work harder to breathe and tend to breathe using the muscles in their upper chest, rather than the lower chest muscles. This takes more energy and is tiring. A physiotherapist is the best person to help you learn good breathing control.
The benefits of good breathing control should not be underestimated. Breathing control is useful to manage shortness of breath and for times when you are unwell.
See below for tips on what to do when you are breathless and how to clear mucus from your lungs.
This is also known as ‘tummy’ breathing or breathing control.
· Place one hand on your tummy, over your navel. Your upper chest and shoulders should be relaxed.
· Breathe in through your nose; you should feel your tummy rise as you breathe in.
· Breathe out gently through your nose; your tummy will fall as you breathe out.
Practice tummy breathing first when you are lying down, when you are feeling relaxed. As you get more used to this breathing pattern, you could try it when sitting too.
· Breathe in through your nose slowly for about two seconds.
· Pucker your lips as if you're about to blow out a candle.
· Breathe out slowly through your mouth for four seconds.
Here are some things you can try to help reduce your breathlessness. Remember to get into a comfortable position when you try these techniques.
Some people with COPD produce a lot of mucus in their lungs and may find it hard to clear it. This can make breathing even more difficult. If you have a lot of mucus, you can learn ways to clear it (a physiotherapist can teach you this). It may help to use your reliever inhaler to open the tubes before trying to clear mucus. Changes in the colour of the mucus may be a sign you have a chest infection, and you should contact your healthcare practitioner.
Try the following breathing exercises in the morning and evening to remove mucus.