Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Coping with shortness of breath

Many people with lung cancer experience shortness of breath at some point in the course of the disease. Treatments, such as supplemental oxygen, and medications are available to help you feel more comfortable, but they aren't always enough.

To cope with shortness of breath, it may help to:

  • Try to relax. Feeling short of breath can be scary. But fear and anxiety only make it harder to breathe. When you begin to feel short of breath, try to manage the fear by choosing an activity that helps you relax. Listen to music, imagine your favorite vacation spot, meditate or say a prayer.
  • Find a comfortable position. It may help to lean forward when you feel short of breath.
  • Focus on your breath. When you feel short of breath, focus your mind on your breathing. Instead of trying to fill your lungs with air, concentrate on moving the muscles that control your diaphragm. Try breathing through pursed lips and pacing your breaths with your activity.
  • Save your energy for what's important. If you're short of breath, you may become tired easily. Cut out the nonessential tasks from your day so that you can save your energy for what needs to be done.

Tell your doctor if you experience shortness of breath or if your symptoms worsen, as there are many other treatments available to relieve shortness of breath.

Mar. 19, 2014

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