Pursed lip breathing, technique and its benefits

What is pursed lip breathing

It is a breathing technique for ease of breathing, and helps making breaths effective. Pursed lip breathing is used to make breathing slow. So when breathing is slow more oxygen goes into the lungs. If pursed lip breathing is practiced regularly, it helps in strengthening the lungs. This breathing technique give more control over breathing. Hence it is important in COPD patients. In this breathing technique a person inhales through the nose and exhales through his mouth by puckering (kissing position) his lips.

Pursed lip breathing, technique and its benefits

Pursed lip breathing benefits

Pursed lip breathing should be considered a part of pulmonary rehabilitation programs particularly in COPD patients. Improving oxygen intake can help reducing fatigue and helps in daily activities. This breathing technique allows control over ventilation. It helps clearing and opening the airways. Expiration phase is prolonged as compared to the normal respiration. Prolonged expiratory phase helps in removing the volatile substances from the lungs, and prevents hypercapnia. Through pursed lip breathing a person regains control over breathing, and results in improvement of gaseous exchange. Following are the benefits of pursed lip breathing;

  • Relieves hypercapnia
  • Reduces breathing load
  • Ease daily activities
  • Lessens fatigue
  • Increase exercise tolerance
  • Decrease respiration rate
  • Increase tidal volume
  • Improve gaseous exchange
Pursed lip breathing, technique and its benefits

Technique for PLB

Explain and demonstrate the breathing technique in front of patient. Ask the patient to be seated in a comfortable position. Breathing can be performed either or not with abdominal muscle contraction. Ask the patient to inhale slowly via his nose. Then the patient is told to exhale the air via his mouth by puckering his lips. A therapist can create clues for his patients like ask the patient to imagine as he is blowing candles which are at an arm distance. So, he would be aware of his effort to exhale. With time patient would be experienced enough he won’t ask for clues. You can increase inhalation and exhalation time from 2 to 4 seconds.

Why this breathing technique

Breathing technique by puckering the lips is helpful in many conditions including, asthma, emphysema, lung abnormalities, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, pulmonary fibrosis. In patients with decreasing lung functions and interstitial lung diseases. In COPD patients once the damage is done it is difficult to recover. Breathing exercises can help improve their lung function, exercise tolerance, arterial oxygenation and breathing patterns. People who feel breathless, cough, wheezing, tightness of chest can perform this breathing technique. This breathing technique can help strengthening the lungs up to 20 to 25%.