Shortness of breath (dyspnea) occurs when you cannot get enough air to breathe. Shortness of breath is common but can be quite uncomfortable and distressing to experience. This condition is usually caused by a heart or lung condition, such as asthma, COPD, low blood pressure, or pneumonia. That's why it is important for you to see your doctor if you experience shortness of breath often or for a long period of time. In the meantime, however, there are home remedies you can use to ease your breathlessness.
If your breathlessness is being caused by mucus build-up from a bacterial or viral infection, inhaling steam is one of the best home remedies you can use to help you breathe better. Fill a bowl with hot water and add a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil. Eucalyptus essential oil possesses antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. Eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils can also help open your airways. Cover your head with a towel and breathe in the steam for five minutes.
Breathing exercises help slow down your breathing. Breathing exercises may be especially helpful if you are anxious. The counting breathing exercises require can help relax and distract your mind from the anxiety you are feeling.
Diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing can help ease breathlessness. In order to do diaphragmatic breathing, sit in a chair, and relax the muscles in your head, neck, and shoulders. Place one hand on your stomach. Take a deep breath in through your nose, slowly pushing the hand on your stomach out. Exhale slowly through your mouth, tightening your stomach muscles as you do so. You should feel your stomach go inward as you exhale. Repeat this exercise for five to 10 minutes.
Another breathing exercise you can do to relieve breathlessness is pursed-lip breathing. Pursed-lip breathing slows the pace of your breathing and may be especially helpful if your breathlessness is being caused by anxiety.
To do pursed-lip breathing, sit in a chair, and relax your neck and shoulder muscles. Keeping your mouth closed, breathe in through your nose to the count of two. Next, purse your lips as if you're going to whistle, and breathe out slowly through your pursed lips to the count of four. Repeat this exercise for five to 10 minutes.
Caffeine is another home remedy for shortness of breath you may want to try. Caffeine is similar to the bronchodilator, theophylline. Bronchodilators are drugs that open up airways and relieve symptoms of asthma, such as breathlessness, coughing, and wheezing.
Caffeine relaxes the muscles in the airways and can help relieve shortness of breath. In fact, even small amounts of caffeine can improve your lung function for up to four hours. You can find caffeine in cocoa, tea, coffee, and soda. If your shortness of breath is being caused by anxiety, it is not a good idea to consume caffeine, as it can make you feel jittery and more anxious.
Change Your Position
Sitting forward can help you breathe easier by relaxing your body. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and lean your chest slightly forward. Relax your neck and shoulder muscles. Hold your face with your hands or place your elbows on your knees. Stay in this position until you can breathe more easily.
If you have a chair and a table at your disposal, you may find it more comfortable to use a table as a support while you catch your breath. Sit in a chair facing the table with your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms on the table and lean your chest slightly forward. Rest your head on your forearms. Alternatively, you can rest your head on a pillow.
Standing in certain positions can also help relax your airways. Try standing with your back to the wall. Keeping your feet shoulder-width apart rest your hands on your thighs. Then, relax your shoulders, lean forward slightly, and let your arms dangle in front of you.
Choose a Good Sleeping Position
It's not uncommon to experience shortness of breath at night. Unfortunately, waking up short of breath decreases sleep quality and duration. To improve your breathing at night, try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees. Elevate your head with pillows as well. Alternatively, try laying on your back with a pillow under your knees and your head elevated by pillows.
Breathlessness can be uncomfortable and distressing. In addition to some lifestyle changes, such as avoiding exposure to pollutants, quitting smoking, and losing weight if necessary, these home remedies for breathlessness will help you breathe more easily. If you suffer from chronic breathlessness or repeated episodes of shortness of breath, it's important to talk to your doctor about them to determine the cause, as you may have a medical condition that needs to be treated.