4 Breathing Exercises for Pulmonary Fibrosis

Breathing exercises are important for pulmonary fibrosis patients as they help to better control breathing if they experience a sudden shortness of breath, strengthen their diaphragm and clear excess mucus.

Here are four breathing exercises that may benefit people with pulmonary fibrosis, using information from the Lung Institute and livestrong.com.

Pursed Lip Breathing
Breathing through pursed lips helps to open the airways and make breathing easier. This is useful when experiencing shortness of breath and can also be used as a relaxation aid.

Pursed lips breathing can be done standing, sitting or lying down and begins by relaxing the necks and shoulders. Patients then need to close their mouths and gently inhale through their nose slowly for two seconds. Then with pursed lips breath out slowly for four seconds.

The technique can be repeated as many times as needed and the length of time taken to inhale and exhale may be extended.

Forced Coughing
Removing mucus from the lungs is essential to help avoid infection and coughing is one of the best ways to achieve this.

The forced coughing technique is best done sitting in a chair with a straight back and feet on the floor. It begins by breathing in as deeply as possible to expand the diaphragm. The patient will then need to hold their breath for a count of three and then open their mouths and cough hard twice. Any mucus that comes up should be discarded into a tissue. The technique should be repeated until the patient feels they have removed all excess mucus from their airways.

MORE: Discover four breathing mistakes you’re probably making

Huff-Cough 
Persistent coughing can cause fatigue, particularly if it is not effective coughing. This technique helps patients cough better and reduce fatigue.

The technique is best performed sitting down with a straight back and feet on the floor. The patient starts by taking several gentle but deep breaths. Then, placing one hand on their stomach, they can breathe in as normal while tightening the muscles in their chest and stomach and then exhale strongly with an open mouth while saying the word “huff.”

Belly Breathing
Belly breathing helps people with lung diseases strengthen their diaphragms and can also be used to aid relaxation and regain breath.

This technique can be done either sitting or lying down with the knees up. Patients should place one hand on their stomach and the other on their chest and then breathe deeply and slowly through the nose and out of their mouths until they can feel their lungs fully inflate and their stomachs rise and fall with each breath.

MORE: Find out about the treatment options for pulmonary fibrosis patients

Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

2 comments

  1. Scott Felland says:

    The above explanation of belly breathing seems unclear. Using belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, simply uses the diaphragm. Place a hand on the belly and with an inhalation it should expand outward and sink towards the back when you exhale. Yoga practice teaches the three-part breath that, with practice, starts with a deep exhalation, sinking the belly in, inhaling to expand the belly, and then continuing the inhalation to fill the lower chest and then further to expand the upper chest. That third part should expand the chest outward towards the sides rather than upward. Keep the shoulders down.
    Having IPF, I have found that this, with a big sniff through the nose at the peak of my inhalation, is the ultimate expansion of my lungs. Pursed lip breathing does help to deepen the exhalation.

    Practicing this exercise occasionally, helps to return to a deeper breath in normal breathing when you find yourself breathing shallowly.

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