Pursed lip breathing is most often practiced to treat asthma and COPD as it improves breathing muscle functions. The main respiratory muscle is the diaphragm which with the contraction increases volume of the chest. Postural muscles (stomach, back, shoulder girdle) facilitate the effective functioning of the diaphragm. Auxiliary respiratory muscles (intercostal muscles, muscles of the shoulder girdle) are involved in intense efforts or to deal with stress.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition of chronic respiratory malfunction and is common in various respiratory diseases including asthma, bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema. COPD is characterized by progressive and irreversible loss of lung function and is classified into stages from zero to four depending on the severity of the disease. The stage of COPD is determined by spirometry, which is also a widely accepted diagnostic method to identify the disease. COPD is projected to be the fourth leading cause of death worldwide by 2030 due to an increase in smoking rates and demographic changes in many countries. In 2006, global average of male and female population diagnosed with COPD was 9.8% and 5.6%, respectively. In the first two stages of COPD use of bronchodilators is prescribed and preventive vaccination against influenza and other infections is highly recommended. Additionally smoking cessation is prescribed to smokers. In stages three and four pharmaceutical agents are used to prevent muscle spasms, inflammation, and increased formation of precipitates. Muscle spasm is reduced by using bronchodilators such as betaadrenergic agonists, salbutamolum, aminophylline or oral theophylline. Inflammation and increased production of secretions is alleviated using corticosteroids. When COPD also causes respiratory failure, the patient is prescribed oxygen therapy. In very few patients surgery is needed to remove air bumps that occur in the lungs, in the worst case the lung transplantation is performed.
Pursed lip breathing is described in the American Thoracic Society guidelines as a ‘nasal inspiration followed by expiratory blowing against partially closed lips, avoiding forceful exhalation’. It reduces breathing rate, helps make exhalation more efficient, reduces dyspnea (shortness of breath), and improves cellular oxygenation. Physicians and medical doctors teach the technique to their patients to ease shortness of breath and to promote deeper and slower breathing. The purpose of PLB is to create positive pressure inside airways to splint them open. Moving air thus then takes less work. Additionally it prolongs exhalation and allows more air out of the body.
WARNING: Supply patients with extra drinking water.
Did you know? With each exhalation humans eliminate water from their bodies. Chemical equation is: Glucose + Oxygen –> Carbon Dioxide + Water + Energy (ATP). That’s why you feel thirsty after playing breathing games.
- Common causes of Pursed-lip breathing - RightDiagnosis.comThis information shows the various causes of Pursed-lip breathing, and how common these diseases or conditions are in the general population. This is not a direct ...
- Breathing Techniques and Exercises for COPD | COPD FoundationHere are two breathing techniques and exercises that will help you get the air you need without working so hard to breathe.
- Pursed lip breathing - WikipediaPursed lip breathing (PLB) is a breathing technique that consists of exhaling through tightly pressed (pursed lips) and inhaling through the nose with the mouth closed.
- Pursed-Lip BreathingUse pursed-lip breathing to prevent shortness of breath when you do things such as exercising, climbing stairs, and bending or lifting.
"Keep using the pursed-lip breathing until the breathless feeling goes away. Rest In between breaths if you feel Dizzy. Give sips of room temperature water."
American Lung Association
“Pursed-lip breathing attempts to prolong active expiration through half-opened lips, thus helping to prevent airway collapse. Compared with spontaneous breathing, pursed-lip breathing reduces respiratory rate, dyspnea, and PaCO2, while improving tidal volume and oxygen saturation in resting conditions."
American Thoracic Society
"Pursed lip breathing is one of the simplest ways to control shortness of breath. It provides a quick and easy way to slow your pace of breathing, making each breath more effective."
“Inhaling through the nose and exhaling through pursed lips makes breathing easier. Pursed-lip breathing can also help you regain control if you’re having trouble catching your breath. You can practice breathing this way anytime, anywhere. If you’re watching TV, practice during the commercials. Try to practice several times a day. Over time, pursed-lip breathing will feel natural.”
University of Minnesota Medical Center
“Pursed lip breathing helps you use less energy to breathe. It can help you relax. When you are short of breath, it helps you slow the pace of your breathing and can help you feel less short of breath."
University of Iowa Children's Hospital