There are several reasons a person may have difficulty breathing. Common causes include sinusitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and allergies. Fortunately, there are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to help manage breathing problems.
Avoid exposure to lung irritants
Staying away from lung irritants can help you avoid swelling and inflammation in the lungs, which can make it harder to breathe. Common irritants to avoid include extreme heat, cold, altitude, smoke, smog and strong odors. Certain allergens can also irritate the lungs and include pollen, animal dander, dust mites and mold.
Work up a sweat
Getting regular aerobic exercise and strength training can help keep your lungs healthy. While exercising, your lungs work harder to meet the oxygen needs of your muscles. Over time, this makes them stronger. The American Heart Association recommends adults aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This breaks down to five 30-minute workouts. If it’s too difficult to find a 30-minute block of time in a day, break it down further into three 10-minute workouts.
Focus on eating smaller meals
Large meals can cause your stomach to put pressure on your lungs, which can make it harder to breathe. One way to alleviate this pressure is to eat five or six smaller meals throughout the day. The right mix of nutrients may also make it easier for you to breathe.
Drinking enough water keeps you hydrated while also thinning mucus for easier removal and ease of breathing. For most people, this means drinking eight, eight-ounce servings of liquid per day. Beyond water, you can also count healthy, caffeine-free fluids and foods with a substantial amount of fluid toward this goal.
Practice breathing exercises
Just as exercise can help improve your heart function, breathing exercises can help improve lung function. Practicing breathing exercises on a regular basis can help rid your lungs of accumulated stale air, increase oxygen levels and help your diaphragm function better. To get started, try pursed lip and belly breathing exercises.
Learn relaxation techniques
Finding ways to improve relaxation can also help improve your breathing. Try taking time each day to meditate, focusing on being more mindful, or practice yoga or tai chi. These activities may help lower tension in your body and relax your chest and lungs so you can breathe easier.
How Edward-Elmhurst Health can help
Edward-Elmhurst Health is committed to helping people improve their lung health and take control of breathing problems. To learn more, visit us online or call 331-221-9003.