We all have been through a lot since the pandemic began. Having to give up certain things and basically try to adapt to a different way of life- is tough.
Things have been rough for me since getting COVID-19 in March 2020. It left me with some physical issues that have been very uncomfortable and scary at times.
One of the scary things for me has been some breathing problems I have had to deal with. Fortunately, I have learned a great breathing exercise that has helped me in times of need.
Intro to breathing issues
Having difficulty breathing is a terrible feeling. Most people are used to not even thinking about their breathing-its just something automatic. It may come as a surprise to know just how complex of a process the act of breathing actually is.
When you are having breathing difficulties, you may feel like you are unable to take a deep breath or you can take a deep breath but it doesn’t feel like your lungs actually got any of the air you breathed in. You may also have a tight feeling in your chest and/or chest pain when you try to breathe.
It is never a good feeling no matter what.
There are various reasons as to why someone may have issues breathing and in most cases- should be checked out by a medical professional.
Breathing issues: physical
When it comes to breathing issues, there are quite a few physical ailments that can cause them. The degree of physical breathing difficulties that one can have ranges from mild to life threatening in these cases.
What people may not know is that it is not just lung conditions that can cause difficulty with breathing- it can also be caused by heart issues. The following includes some of the conditions that cause breathing difficulties:
- Infections-Pneumonia, whooping cough, bronchitis etc.
- Pulmonary embolisms
- Heart disease
- Heart failure
An extra word on COVID-19-
When it comes to COVID-19, there seems to be a high risk for individuals who test positive to end up with pneumonia. The Delta variant seems to cause this to happen even more than the other variants have.
If one is having a hard time breathing when dealing with COVID, it is important to also check your oxygen levels. This is because they may be low which indicates a trip to the hospital is in order. It is actually a good thing to do this no matter if you are short of breath or not because your oxygen levels could be low without difficulty breathing being present.
If you test positive for COVID-19, it is important that you let loved ones know so that they can check in on you while you are at home recovering. This is so that they can possibly bring you something you may need (if they live in the same town) or call an ambulance if necessary.
Even after one “recovers” from COVID-19, they may still struggle with shortness of breath or their shortness of breath may start after “recovering.” Oxygen supplementation may then be required afterwards and/or a prescription for an inhaler may be necessary.
Please consider buying an oximeter to have around. It is extremely important when you are ill with COVID-19.
Breathing issues: mental
Difficulty breathing can be caused by mental health reasons, too. This is due to our minds being able to create physical problems.
It can all start with someone feeling a sense of worry, anxiety, panic or fear. Then, these mental symptoms will trigger the fight or flight response which is physiological in nature. When this response happens, adrenaline (a hormone) gets released.
The release of adrenaline is what causes the breathlessness some people may experience when they are dealing with the aforementioned feelings.
The thing that is different about your mental state causing shortness of breath is that it can get better in a shorter amount of time. You will have to calm yourself down somehow (might be hard to do) but you probably aren’t going to end up in the ICU for this type of breathing problem.
Because your mental state can create shortness of breath, it can also make it worse. For example, you could already have shortness of breath due to a physical reason and the fear you feel from not being able to breath very well makes it worse.
My breathing issues
Whilst having COVID- I did not have any shortness of breath. It oddly came about two weeks after “recovering” along with all my other post-COVID symptoms.
One day I felt like I had this tight band around my chest. This made me unable to take a deep breath in. It was scary as I had no idea what was happening to me.
There were other times that I would have this feeling where I could take a deep breath but my lungs (or brain) weren’t able to register it or something like that. It was a really strange sensation.
These two breathing issues were very frequent for a quite a few months. I kept trying to get an appointment with my doctor as I thought I was having serious lung issues but he told me it was probably just anxiety. Because of this, I decided to just work through it at home.
I was aware of the breathing issues a lot of the time and it was really annoying. I tried putting Vick’s on my chest, neck and nose with the idea that it might help me breath better. I also tried breathing in steaming hot water mixed with peppermint essential oil.
It wasn’t until I came across a breathing exercise that I would find any kind of relief.
The breathing exercise that helped me
On my desperate search to find something that would help me, I found a list of breathing methods and exercises. The very first one on the list was the one that turned out to be an amazing tool for me to use when my breathing gets funky.
It is called, pursed lip breathing.
The pursed lip breathing exercise is really simple and can be done anywhere, anytime. It is just inhaling through your nose for a couple seconds and then breathing out with your lips pursed (like you are whistling) for a few seconds. You will most likely need to repeat this a few a times.
The reason why this is a recommended exercise for people with shortness breath is because it helps to slow down your breathing so you can get a deep breath in. Overtime, it can even strengthen your lungs if practiced regularly.
Pursed lip breathing is also very calming for some people. It can be used for when your shortness of breath is caused by mental distress, too.
I first went into this breathing exercise with the idea that it would not help me at all. I was thinking, “how can something so simple help me?” As it turns out though, it helped me so much.
After a few rounds of doing pursed lip breathing, I felt the shortness of breath reduce by quite a bit. It was like it helped “reset” my breathing (for lack of a better explanation) and took the pressure off of my lungs to work so hard to get a good breath in.
Ever since, I have been practicing this breathing exercise for about ten minutes each day. I really feel like it has strengthened my lungs and continued to help me. Other people with long-COVID have found relief with it as well.
Breathing issues can be really scary and life disrupting now matter the cause. Exercises and methods such as pursed lip breathing can be really helpful when you don’t need to be hospitalized for your breathing difficulty.
I have found great relief with pursed lip breathing and highly recommend it for anyone who deals with shortness of breath.
Have any of you had breathing problems? How did you deal with them?
Thanks for reading!
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