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Pursed Lip Breathing

pursed lip breathingAs a respiratory therapist you function as an educator to your patients. Pursed Lip Breathing and Diaphragmatic Breathing are two very effective breathing techniques that will provide your patients relief in their everyday lives as they learn to live with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Purse lip breathing is a form of rescue breathing. You have probably noticed that when an athlete becomes short or breath during periods of exercise, they tend to blow the air out of their mouths strongly by puffing their cheeks out.

You may have done this too when you’ve been walking or working at anything/exerting yourself. This is a normal and natural response to shortness of breath. It provides for a quick and easy way to improve your breathing pattern. Your breathing will slow down and you’ll be able to catch you breath.

What Does Pursed Lip Breathing Do?

  • Improves ventilation/moving air in and out
  • Decreases air trapping in the lungs/slowly lets you exhale all the air
  • Decreases your work of breathing/instantly slows your breathing down/less work
  • Improves breathing patterns/your respiratory rate will drop/less breaths per minute/slower breathing
  • Relieves shortness of breath instantly and naturally
  • Causes gentle relaxation/it works wonders!

How Does Pursed Lip Breathing Work?

  • Prolongs exhalation/ naturally slows down the breathing rate/you breathe slower
  • Causes a slight back pressure in the lungs that splints the airways open/holds them open
  • Improves the effectiveness of moving old air out of your lungs and allows for more new air to get into your lungs
  • It hyper-inflates the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs which increases gas exchange

Pursed Lip Breathing Technique

IMPORTANT- Exhalation must be 3-4 times longer than inhalation with very slow and easy deep breaths out, so do not force the air out.

  1. Relax in a chair but sit up straight
  2. You may do this breathing technique standing up as well
  3. Breathe in through your nose
  4. Purse your lips slightly as if blowing a kiss
  5. Exhale slowly through pursed lips/a long slow breath out
  6. REMEMBER to breathe out SLOWLY

Practice this pursed lip breathing technique 4-5 times every day in the beginning to get the correct breathing pattern. You should use it when you feel short of breath when you are at rest or when you are exerting yourself. This technique works wonderfully also if you feel nervous or apprehensive.

IMPORTANT – You may feel light-headed while doing pursed lip breathing. This feeling means that you are over-ventilating/breathing too fast, and you should breathe more slowly.

REMEMBER – Long, slow breaths out