If you have COPD, your body has a hard time getting enough oxygen because of the damage that has been done to your lungs. Following instructions from your Doctor regarding taking your prescriptions, and utilizing oxygen therapy are incredibly important for maintaining adequate oxygen levels. Besides following your medical orders, there are a few other ways to help increase your oxygen levels.
Oxygen therapy is one of the most common treatments for maintaining your oxygen levels. In conjunction with an oxygen therapy regiment, your doctor might also refer you to pulmonary rehabilitation. At pulmonary rehabilitation you will learn a variety breathing and exercise techniques that can help to boost your oxygen levels naturally while being closely monitored by medical professionals. Many of the techniques taught to you can be used in everyday life, so that you may remain active longer and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
If you go to pulmonary rehabilitation, you will most likely start practicing pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing. Pursed lip breathing is used to help ease shortness of breath while diaphragmatic breathing helps to train the diaphragm for more efficient and deeper breathing so that more oxygen can enter the lungs.
Below we will outline the steps to familiarize yourself with these two simple breathing techniques. Be sure to ask a medical professional before exercising and conducting pulmonary rehab techniques by yourself to make sure they are right for you.
Simple Pursed Breathing Technique
While sitting down or taking a leisurely walk, breathe in through your nose as deeply as you can. Purse your lips and try to exhale longer than you inhaled. This will help ensure that you are bringing in enough oxygen while expelling the carbon dioxide trapped in your lungs. You should also do pursed lip breathing while you are relaxing, 2 or 3 times a day, or when you feel winded.
Getting Started with Diaphragmatic Breathing
Lie on your back with your head supported by a pillow, and your knees bent. Put one hand on your upper chest and the other right below your rib cage, so you can feel your diaphragm moving to make sure you are doing this effectively. Breathe in slowly through your nose, and make sure only your hand under your rib cage is moving. The one on your upper chest can move slightly, but not nearly as much as the other. When you're ready to exhale, purse your lips and tighten your stomach muscles while you breathe out. This strengthens your diaphragm and trains it to help you breathe deeper. Practice this for three times a day, 5 to 10 minutes each time.
Remember, these are only outlines of the techniques many people use during pulmonary rehabilitation. If you have questions on how to conduct these exercises speak with your licensed physician or respiratory therapist.