Learning to Breathe Right is the Hardest of All
Last updated: April 2020
The one thing most if not all us with COPD have in common is – we don't breathe right. Even though we fought to breathe from birth many of us never got it right. Myself included. I am of course talking about mouth breathing as opposed to breathing in through the nose.
The benefits are enormous
Nobody ever said, "You are breathing wrong. You should inhale through your nose, not your mouth." I never gave it a thought. And I bet neither did you. Even though there are plenty of reasons why we should inhale through our noses and do our best not to mouth breathe. Reasons why we should learn, as hard as it is, as soon as we are able.
It is not easy after so many years of breathing wrong to correct this and to learn to breathe right. It wasn't for me and took many months. But the benefits are enormous. I can promise in time you will become much more conscious of your breathing, and always try to 'breathe right' should you also learn to breathe through your nose.
It also helps to calm us
The benefits are many for us with COPD. Breathing right slows our breathing, allowing more time for the oxygen we breathe in to enter our bloodstream, and for our body to remove the waste product of carbon dioxide.
It also helps to calm us. Our noses also act as a filter, removing small particles of dirt or other items from the air that otherwise enter our lungs when we inhale. Each time you take in a nice lungful of air through your mouth you are inviting lots of nasties that are not needed into your lungs.
How many exacerbations could be avoided?
I sometimes wonder how many exacerbations could be avoided if we all breathed right. Your nose also filters out some of the germs in the air, which are then attacked by the body meaning they do not enter your lungs. Think about it. When mouth breathing you are breathing in small particles of dust, dirt, and germs right into the very place you do not need them - the lungs.
Another major advantage to nose breathing is during winter breathing through your nose will warm the air before it reaches your lungs helping you breathe easier. It is still advisable during the cold season to cover your mouth and nose to help keep the warmth in. I myself use a snood (hood or scarf).
Nose breathing benefits
There are very good reasons to breathe in through your nose and not your mouth. Did you know that nasal breathing increases circulation, blood oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate, and improves overall lung volumes? And that mouth breathing bypasses important stages in the breathing process?
It took me a long time to master the art of nose breathing. Although now, thinking about it as I sit at my desk writing this article, I am aware my mouth is closed. And I am breathing gently through my nose. I admit to the odd slip-up. More so when I become very breathless after overexerting myself.
Another advantage to nose breathing is if you use oxygen you get the full amount of what you are prescribed. You would be surprised how many still continue to mouth breathe even using oxygen.
Relax with this simple exercise
If you are a mouth breather please take the time to sit in a chair, relax with a nice easy breathing exercise. To the count of four, inhale in through the nose. To the count of six, with pursed lips, exhale out through the mouth. That will oxygenate you and help to make you feel good. Better still put some nice relaxing music on the stereo to chill to while doing this simple exercise. If you learn to breathe right, remember: for you the advantages are enormous.
Until next time keep that smile. And most of all, Breathe Easy.
Do you know the difference between a COPD exacerbation and lung function decline?
Join the conversation