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Short of Breath? Try Pursed Lip Breathing

by Leatapo Tupua Salanoa Fesili, RCP


Pursed lip breathing is a technique helpful in managing shortness of breath. This technique:

  • Improves gas exchange of both oxygen and carbon dioxide (stale air)

  • Relieves shortness of breath, especially for people with lung disease

  • Reduces anxiety or stress with exertional activities

  • Increases energy due to availability of more oxygen

How to do pursed lip breathing technique

  1. Relax the shoulders to better utilize the diaphragm.

  2. Close the mouth. Inhale through the nose for a count of two seconds.

  3. Exhale for four seconds, slowly, by puckering or pursing the lips as if blowing out candles or whistling.

  4. Apply the pursed lip breathing technique until breathing levels are normal.

Use this technique if shortness of breath happens when walking short or long distances, or while climbing up and down stairs. Short movements like bending down for objects, lifting, or getting up from a chair should be done on the exhalation part of breathing.


Practice pursed lip breathing several times during the day, so that it will be easy to recall and apply when short of breath.

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