Talk to your Doctor
Finding out why you are having breathing problems is the first step towards treatment. For instance, a fluid build-up around the lungs may be drained, while oxygen or certain medicines may work against other causes.
Write down what you want to tell you doctor:
- What brings on your shortness of breath?
- What are the particular activities that trigger your shortness of breath?
- What helps you manage shortness of breath?
- Have you experienced shortness of breath before?
Write down what you want to ask your doctor:
- What can be done for shortness of breath?
- When is shortness of breath an emergency?
Depending on what is causing your breathlessness, you may find some relief in:
- Increasing the air circulation and, where possible, lowering the temperature and humidity.
- Finding a position that is comfortable for you. Some people find it useful to sit in a chair and lean forward with their arms and upper body supported on a table.
- Focusing on your breathing pattern: Take slow even breaths. When you breathe out, put your lips together, like slowly blowing out a candle (also called pursed lip breathing).
- Attempting to relax – using music, deep breathing, guided imagery or meditation, for example.
- Seeking emotional support and reassurance from those around you and health professionals.
If you are experiencing breathlessness, turning on a fan or opening windows may help you feel as though you are taking in more air.
Plan your activities
- If you are doing an activity and become short of breath, you should stop the activity and rest.
- Rest before and between doing activities that take extra energy.
If your shortness of breath is accompanied by any chest pain, you should seek immediate medical attention.
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Life, Hope & Reality was developed and written by Afaf Girgis, Claire Johnson, and Sylvie Lambert with funding from the NHMRC and Cancer Council NSW.
Last updated 30 August 2015