When Dilip experienced shortness of breath for the first time, he paid little attention to it. But after a while even simple movements became taxing. However, he was unable to identify the cause. He couldn’t recall any marked lifestyle changes in the past several weeks.

When the breathlessness became a frequent affair, he sought out elder home care in Chennai. The nurse assigned to him ran a few tests and was quickly able to diagnose the underlying cause to be anaemia.

While shortness of breath after strenuous physical activity is normal, prolonged or sudden breathlessness is a cause for concern.

What is shortness of breath?

Loss of breath occurs when the lungs cannot pump enough oxygen for the body. Other characteristics include gasping or rapid breathing, and an increased heart rate.

People with respiratory illness, allergies, heart disease, anxiety, or anaemia are most at risk. Colds and the flu can also increase susceptibility to breathing difficulties. Factors pertaining to lifestyles like inactivity, obesity, smoking habits, and high exposure to pollution can also increase vulnerability to the condition.

How can shortness of breath be managed?

Simple breathing techniques can be employed to alleviate breathlessness. Our specialists in patient services in Chennai have listed a few first-aid tips with detailed steps below. These can be performed by all age groups.

Diaphragmatic breathing

This breathing technique is commonly used by people with anxiety disorders and is taught in yoga as well due to its effectiveness.

  • Sit in a chair and relax neck, shoulders, and head
  • Place one hand on the belly (just below the ribs), and the other on the middle of the upper chest
  • Begin to breathe in slowly through the nostrils while drawing breath down towards the stomach until it begins to push upwards. The hand kept on the belly should move.
  • Exhale slowly with pursed lips while tightening the abdominal muscles
  • Practice this for 5 minutes each day

Pursed-lip breathing

This technique is highly effective, very simple to perform, and is commonly used to treat chronic lung diseases. Anyone experiencing difficulty breathing can perform this exercise though.

  • Gently inhale through the nose
  • While exhaling, purse the lips like blowing out candles or whistling
  • Repeat this till breathing normalises

Paced breathing

This technique is most useful when breathlessness occurs while carrying out physical activities like climbing stairs.

  • Fix a steady count before the activity
  • Breathe in for the first 2-3 counts while continuing the activity
  • Exhale for the next 3-4 counts
  • Continue doing this until breathing becomes more composed

We also recommend consulting with a doctor for a detailed analysis of individual needs and conditions. They can better prescribe techniques based on health conditions.

When to seek medical treatment?

The first symptoms may signal a serious underlying condition. If left untreated, it may cause further complications, including heart and lung diseases, and low blood oxygen levels. It can also lead to cognitive impairments if not treated in a timely manner. Immediate medical attention is critical in such situations.

Elders living alone may not always have quick access to such resources. Alserv, as a provider of elder care in Chennai, supports by providing seniors living alone with experienced nurses and caretakers. Our emergency services are also available 24/7 to all our subscribers, which includes ambulance and hospitalization services. With Alserv, there is always help at the ready.