7 Proven Tricks for Better Breathing

by John Bottrell Health Professional

Modern medicine works great for people with lung diseases like COPD, but it’s not the only path to better breathing. Here are seven proven tricks to better breathing discovered by researchers, scientists, inventors, and people just like you.

Enjoy a gentle breeze

Physicians going back to the ancient world described how asthmatics would often be seen with their heads next to open windows. Sometimes they’d go for a walk in the fresh air to get relief. A study published in The Lancet in 1993 proved that a simple breeze reduces the feeling of air hunger. So open a window, or turn on a fan.

Use a dehumidifier

Long ago, physicians recommended steam to provide breathing relief. While this worked for some, it made people with asthma and COPD feel worse. This was because humid air is thicker and harder to inhale. So instead of using humidifiers, modern physicians recommend dehumidifiers when the air is hot and humid.

Turn on air conditioning

Hot air tends to hold more water, making it harder to breathe. Studies suggest that air is easiest to inhale when it is cooled so it contains between 35 and 50 percent humidity. They also allow you to keep the windows and doors shut to keep outdoor triggers like pollen from coming in.

Use HEPA filters

Substances in the air -- such as dust, mold, and other irritants -- may trigger COPD flare-ups. This is especially true for the 10 percent of COPD patients who also have allergies. High Efficiency Particle Arresting (HEPA) filters are the best for removing these irritants.

Try oxygen therapy

While oxygen therapy allows you to inhale up to 100 percent oxygen, most with COPD get by with 28-32 percent oxygen via an easy to tolerate nasal cannula. Oxygen is proven to make breathing easier, and it’s also the only drug proven to prolong life.

CPAP and BiPAP machines

These are machines used at night, especially for people who have sleep apnea. A mask is applied over the nose or face, and pressures are supplied to assure airways stay patent and breathing stays easy. Better breathing at night means a better sleep and quality of life.

Avoid carbonated beverages

Soda and beer contain carbon dioxide that’s absorbed into the bloodstream. This may cause breathing problems. It may also cause bloating that pushes the stomach against the diaphragm, making less room to inhale.

John Bottrell
Meet Our Writer
John Bottrell

John Bottrell is a registered Respiratory Therapist. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).