Living With COPD Part 2 Pursed Lip Breathing

Author: Michael Riser

(piano music) Hello. Welcome to part 2 of "Living with COPD." In this segment, I'm going to show you the pursed lip breathing technique. It will not only help make your breathing easier but also keep your shortness of breath at a minimum by getting more oxygen to your lungs. Pursed lip breathing is used to help manage your shortness of breath and help control your normal breathing while doing more strenuous activities such as exercise, bending, walking, or climbing stairs. What it essentially does is create a back pressure effect in your lungs. The benefit to this is that it helps move more carbon dioxide out of your lungs and allows more oxygen to enter them, thus promoting relaxation.

This is also the technique you want to use to help you recover when you become short of breath. Please, do not put off learning this exercise until you need it. If you practice these steps 4 to 5 times per day until you learn the proper breathing pattern that's right for you, then you'll be ready for the next time you become short of breath. In fact, you may find yourself breathing through pursed lips pretty much most of the time.

It's very important that you relax your neck and shoulders. Inhale slowly through your nose for two counts. Do not hold your breath. Pucker your lips as if you were going to whistle or blow to flicker a candle flame but not extinguish it. Exhale slowly and gently through your pursed lips for four or more counts. The key points to this exercise are... To properly empty your lungs, exhale through pursed lips at least twice as long as you inhale.

Do not hold your breath and exhale through pursed lips during the hard part of any activity that you may be doing. The next thing I want to talk about is whenever you do become short of breath, the very first priority you want to address is "do not panic." Because what happens when you panic is that your muscles tense up and you begin to use more and more oxygen that way. So, this makes your brain think that your heart isn't beating hard enough, so it sends a message to your heart saying, "Pump faster, pump faster. "We need more oxygen." This makes you now start to breathe harder..

Living With COPD Part 2 Pursed Lip Breathing

And you're still not getting that oxygen into that blood the way you need it to be. So, now what happens-- you may start taking in-- as your heart rate increases, you may start taking in sharp breaths through your mouth instead of through your pursed lips-- or through your nose and breathing out through your pursed lips. And this situation will actually cause, in a lot of people, your airways to collapse and restrict farther so that you don't have the oxygen flow and airflow that you really need to move the air in and out of your lungs. So, now, you can see how this does become a life-threatening situation if you do begin to panic.

So, by taking control of your life and your body-- once again, by not letting yourself panic-- you're helping your quick-recovery inhaler or nebulizer treatment to do its job more efficiently and faster, so you can begin to feel better quicker. So, the first thing you want to do when you feel short of breath-- begin your pursed lip breathing. Calmly reach for your fast-acting inhaler or your nebulizer, whatever it is-- you're using albuterol or Xopenex or whatever it may be-- and take your puff off of that and do whatever it is you need to do to take that. And continue your pursed lip breathing. So, now, you'll begin to feel better, much faster. Just a couple more things I want to talk to you about before we get to winding things down. One involves-- when you do get short of breath, one of the things that I like to do that helps out an awful lot for me and it may help you out as well is I like to create a diversion in my mind that takes my mind away from my being short of breath.

And the way I do that is I often take myself to this little quiet place in my mind, and just let my imagination wander and do all kinds of nice little things to help me relax. That works out great. You can go back to the times when you were a child or a young man or young woman and places that really-- that you've seen that were serene and safe and very relaxing for you then, Oh, it's my kitty coming around helping out here, I see. And..

Another thing you can do is... Like, pick up, say, like a solitaire game or a Yahtzee game-- one of these-- any little electronic game and just start playing, and taking your mind off of your shortness of breath, but still focusing on your pursed lip breathing. That will help bring you down a little quicker, too. And the last-- wow. And the last thing is when you are doing your pursed lip breathing and you find that you really need to move a little more CO2 out, you can do this by tightening your abdominal muscles as you exhale. Now, relax them on your inhale but tighten them up as you're inhaling-- er, exhaling. You'll find that this will help you out an awful lot, too. (piano music) That kind of ties into what we'll be talking about on my next video with diaphragmatic breathing.

So, you got a little head start on it there. So, until then... Breathe well, good people.

Breathe well. (piano music).

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