Breathlessness is a debilitating and sometimes frightening problem you may experience when living with lung cancer. While treatment may be required to gain full control of your breathlessness, there are plenty of non-medical ways to deal with this problem, as well.
According to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, breathlessness is caused by a variety of factors, most of which can be treated effectively. Some causes include:
- Anemia, or low red blood cell count
- Poor diet
- Chest infection
- Fluid in your lungs
- Blocked airways
- Pain when breathing
- Fear, anger, anxiety or excitement
In your efforts to control breathlessness while living with lung cancer, use these tips from the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation:
- Control Your Breathing: Become aware of your breathing patterns. If a situation arises that makes you become breathless, position yourself comfortably. Try sitting down and leaning back so your upper chest and shoulders are supported and relaxed.
Place one hand on your upper chest and let your chest relax. As you breathe in, focus on letting your belly rise and fall. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Count your breaths and tell yourself to calm down.
- Perform Breathing Exercises: A helpful breathing exercise is one that expands your lower chest. Place your hands on your chest and breathe out through your mouth. Feel your ribs come in as far as possible. Then, breathe in through your nose and feel your ribs expand outward. Repeat the exercise five or six times.
- Learn to Relax: Pay attention to which parts of your body feel tense when you’re upset or anxious. The neck, shoulders and back are common areas. Achieve deep relaxation by tensing and relaxing muscle groups throughout your body.
Sit in a comfortable arm chair or propped up in bed. One by one, tense and relax your hands and wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, face, chest, stomach and legs. Listening to relaxing music during this exercise may be helpful as well.