Picture this. You’ve decided to go for a run, you start with a light jog and then gradually pick up speed. Suddenly, you feel your lungs start to burn and your breathing becomes shallow and uneven. Feeling this is normal when you are working out or are pushing yourself but it is not normal when you experience it 24/7.
People with asthma have reported feeling breathlessness for most of their waking hours. From the moment they wake up until they get to bed they are actively recovering from breathlessness episodes.
Apart from being a physical challenge, asthma may also impose emotional stress.
According to the British Lung Foundation, asthmatics tend to experience anxiety over breathlessness episodes and spend lots of time planning on how to minimize the effects of future episodes.
Although breathlessness may be a part of your asthma, there are breathing habits and exercises that may help you minimize its effects:
1. Push all the air out before you inhale: When you are feeling breathless, you might start to breathe faster in the hopes of taking in more air. However, this may actually be making your lungs more tired.
When you breathe faster, you are not pushing all the air out of your lungs which will cause you to breathe with the top of your chest, rather than your lungs. As a result, you may overexert your muscles and feel more out of breath than before.
2. Try controlled breathing: Similar to the breathing techniques used in yoga, breathing with control may help you reduce tension and breathe better.
Here’s how to do it:
First, relax your shoulders and let your body relax. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Then, breathe in slowly through your nose with your mouth closed and then breathe out slowly through the mouth. Your breaths should be slow and require very little effort. The goal is to have each inhale be the same length as the exhales.
Tip: Place one hand in your chest and the other in your abdomen. When breathing correctly, the hand on your chest should barely move and your abdomen will press lightly against your other hand.
To gain better control of your future breathing, practice this exercise while you are relaxed and in a comfortable position. The next time you feel breathless, you will be prepared to engage in mindful breathing.
Here is a quick breathing exercise:
3. Lean against a wall: Feeling breathless can be overwhelming and you might not be able to engage in mindful breathing right away. When this happens, lean against a wall (either backward or sideways), separate your feet slightly and rest your hands on either side of your body. Then start using the breathing exercises you’ve practiced.
Asthma and its symptoms can be frustrating and sometimes scary. However, engaging in mindful breathing may help reduce some of the asthma symptoms such as breathlessness.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with asthma, consider participating in a research study at Bandera Family Healthcare Research. Those that qualify may receive study-related care and medication at no cost, have access to possible new treatment options and receive compensation for time and travel.
To learn more about asthma and potential new research studies, click HERE!
BFHC Research Blog is an information medium. The content above is not meant to be taken as medical advice. If you are in need of medical assistance or have any questions about asthma management, please consult your primary physician or give us a call at (210) 296–2445 to schedule a consultation with our medical staff.