How to Improve Shortness of Breath

Written by susan raphael
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While there are many causes for shortness of breath--including pregnancy, obesity, asthma or similar conditions in the respiratory system--the experience can usually be dealt with in similar ways. When you feel shortness of breath, your lungs are receiving only a fraction of the oxygen they should; your chest will feel tight and constricted and you may experience dizziness and nausea from the lack of blood flow to your brain. Improving the rate of your breath is important and can help alleviate some of the unpleasant symptoms you may experience.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Quit smoking immediately if you currently do so; smoke inhalation can seriously affect the abilities of your lungs. Staying away from others while they are smoking is also a good idea.

  2. 2

    Make sure you take any respiratory medication like an inhaler with the regularity that you need it. Failing to take your medication can cause restricted and limited breathing.

  3. 3

    Breathe slowly into your stomach for three seconds, making your rib cage expand. Put your hands above your head as you breathe to allow more air into your body.

  4. 4

    Hold your breath for two seconds, letting your stomach and rib cage stretch from the air inside.

  5. 5

    Release the air in your body slowly over five seconds until you have exhaled completely. Lower your arms as you do to help expel as much air as possible.

  6. 6

    Repeat the breathing exercise as many times as you require to regain healthy, regular breath. This should take place during and after any period when you find yourself struggling to breathe.

  7. 7

    Stop to gather yourself before exerting yourself to perform an activity like ascending stairs or walking vigorously. This will allow you to ready yourself and perform a breathing exercise before increasing your heart rate.

  8. 8

    Get plenty of rest; a tired body can work a lot harder than a tired respiratory system and therefore you will feel able to run, walk or move about more than your lungs can create breath for.

  9. 9

    Listen to your body to know when to rest and when it is time to exercise and work. You need to rest to let shortness of breath dissipate, but your body also needs to exercise in order to get your breathing capacity higher.

Tips and warnings

  • Taking a small drink of water can help you relax an overexerted respiratory system momentarily. The water forces you to stop, swallow and breathe again, giving you a chance to slow down your breathing.
  • Do not attempt to cure shortness of breath without consulting a medical professional to eliminate serious health problems as the source of the breathing irregularity.

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