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9/10/2018 Best Positions to Reduce Shortness of Breath | Lung Institute

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10 Mar 2018 | Under Breathing Exercises (https://lunginstitute.com/blog/category/lifestyle-modi cations/breathing-

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People living with chronic lung diseases (https://lunginstitute.com/lung-diseases/)


often experience shortness of breath. Most people feel that shortness of breath is
one of the most concerning symptoms of chronic lung diseases. Chronic lung
diseases make it di cult for people to breathe normally, so people often have trouble
maintaining adequate blood oxygen levels (https://lunginstitute.com/blog/blood-
oxygen-level/).

The respiratory system brings oxygen into the body


(https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hlw/whathappens) and
delivers it to the body. The soft, spongy lungs don’t have any muscles within them, so
they need surrounding muscles and bones to help them work. During shortness of

https://lunginstitute.com/blog/best-positions-to-reduce-shortness-of-breath/ 2/15
9/10/2018
breath, it can feel as though youBestaren’t
Positions to Reduce Shortness of Breath | Lung Institute
able to breathe normally. We’re here to help
with the information you need about breathlessness and the best positions to reduce
shortness of breath.

What Muscles Are Used for Breathing?


To better understand shortness of breath, it’s important to know about the muscles
used for breathing (http://www.livestrong.com/article/74806-muscles-respiratory-

system-human-anatomy/). Breathing can be a voluntary or involuntary act. For
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example, you can voluntarily hold your breath or take a slow, deep breath. Involuntary
breathing occurs when you breathe without thinking about breathing at all, such as
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when you sleep.

Because the lungs


Your email address themselves don’t contain any muscles, they need help from
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muscles within the body. The intercostal muscles are small and numerous muscles
situated between
Phone number each rib and on each side of each rib. The intercostal muscles help
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enlarge the chest cavity and contract to pull the ribcage both upward and outward as
you inhale.
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The diaphragm is the most important muscle to breathing. In fact, the diaphragm has
its own nerve supply and can work involuntarily and voluntarily. The diaphragm works
like a vacuum. When the diaphragm contracts during inhalation, it goes down toward
the stomach, expands the lungs and pulls new air into them. During exhalation, the
diaphragm relaxes and moves  Submit
back to its original position. As the diaphragm relaxes,
it and the intercostal muscles in the ribcage push old air back out of the lungs. The
intercostal muscles also relax and reduce the space in the chest cavity.

Accessory Muscles
If you are under stress, have an injury or are experiencing di culty breathing,
accessory muscles (http://www.livestrong.com/article/195127-the-use-of-accessory-
muscles-with-breathing/) can help you breathe. Accessory muscles are not used
during normal breathing. The accessory muscles sometimes used from breathing
include the muscles in front of the neck, the chest pectorals and the abdominal

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9/10/2018 Best Positions to Reduce Shortness of Breath | Lung Institute
muscles. For people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), air
becomes trapped in the lungs and makes it harder for them to expel air. Many people
with chronic lung diseases use accessory muscles to help them breathe in and out.

What is Shortness of Breath?


Shortness of breath (https://lunginstitute.com/blog/shortness-of-breath-and-copd-
tips/) is a common and often frightening symptom of chronic lung diseases. Many

people describe breathlessness as air hunger. Shortness of breath makes people feel
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like they cannot ll their lungs with oxygen
(https://lunginstitute.com/blog/importance-oxygen-lungs/). Sometimes, shortness of
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breath happens suddenly and without a known cause. It often occurs with chest
tightness and anxiety.
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If you experience shortness of breath, follow your doctor’s instructions and use
prescribed
Phone numberinhalers
(Required)as directed by your doctor. While frightening, remember to stay
calm and consider trying the following positions to reduce shortness of breath.
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Best Positions to Reduce Shortness of Breath


In combination with the pursed lips breathing (https://lunginstitute.com/blog/pursed-
lips-breathing-helps/) and the diaphragmatic breathing techniques
(http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/diaphragmatic-breathing), these
positions to reduce feelings of
shortness
Submit of breath
(http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/positions-to-reduce-shortness-of-
breath) can help you relax and reduce the sensation of breathlessness.

Sitting Positions to Reduce Shortness of Breath:


Typically, shortness of breath happens during activity, emotional experiences, bad or
changing weather conditions or when you feel tense or stressed
(https://lunginstitute.com/blog/copd-and-stress-relaxation-tips/). Try these sitting
positions to reduce shortness of breath:

Sitting Position A:

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9/10/2018 Best Positions to Reduce Shortness of Breath | Lung Institute

Sit in a chair or in a comfortable position


Keep your feet at on the oor
Lean your chest forward a little
Rest your elbows on your knees
Place your chin in your hands (if you feel comfortable doing so)
Relax your neck and shoulders as much as you can
Practice your breathing techniques

Sitting Position B:

If a pillow is easily available, place it on a table


Sit in a chair at the table
Keep your feet at on the oor
Lean your chest forward some
Place your arms on the table
Relax your head on your forearms (if a pillow isn’t available) or rest your head
on the pillow
Use your breathing techniques

Standing Positions to Reduce Shortness of Breath:


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9/10/2018 Best Positions to Reduce Shortness of Breath | Lung Institute
Sometimes, shortness of breath happens suddenly. If a chair or a place to do the
sitting positions isn’t available, give a standing position to reduce shortness of breath
a try:

Standing Position A:
Find a sturdy wall
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
Lean your hips on the wall
Let your hands rest on your thighs
Allow your shoulders to relax
Lean forward slightly
Let your arms dangle in front of you
Remember to practice your breathing techniques

Standing Position B:
Find a strong piece of furniture (just below shoulder height), such as a table
Stand at the furniture
Place your elbows or hands on the chosen furniture
Lean forward a little
Relax your neck and shoulders
You can rest your head on your forearms if your elbows are on the furniture
Utilize your breathing techniques

Sleeping Positions to Reduce Shortness of Breath:


If you’re at home or are awakened by an episode of shortness of breath, remain calm
and consider these sleeping positions to reduce shortness of breath:
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Sleeping Position A:
9/10/2018 Best Positions to Reduce Shortness of Breath | Lung Institute

Lie on your side


Place a pillow between your knees
Elevate your head with a pillow or two
Keep your back as straight as possible
Relax and use your breathing techniques

Sleeping Position B:
Lie on your back
Place a pillow under your knees, so your knees are bent
Elevate your head with a pillow or two
Allow yourself to relax
Practice your breathing techniques

Taking Steps Toward Easier Breathing


Following your doctor’s advice, taking your medications
(https://lunginstitute.com/blog/copd-medications-inhalers-treatments/) properly and
learning about all of your treatment options helps you stay proactive in your
healthcare. In combination with your current treatment plan and breathing techniques
(https://lunginstitute.com/blog/emphysema-breathing-exercises/), we hope these
positions to reduce shortness of breath help you stay calm and breathe easier.

For many people, cellular therapy (https://lunginstitute.com/treatment/cellular-


therapy-basics/) has helped them improve their quality of life, allowing them to spend
more time with their family, grandchildren and loved ones. If you or a loved one has
COPD (https://lunginstitute.com/lung-diseases/copd/), emphysema
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(https://lunginstitute.com/lung-diseases/emphysema/), pulmonary brosis
(https://lunginstitute.com/lung-diseases/pulmonary- brosis/) or another chronic lung
disease and would like to learn more about cellular therapy options
(https://lunginstitute.com/treatment/), contact us at (800) 729-3065 (tel:1-800-729-
3065).

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