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Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed lip breathing is one of the simplest ways to control shortness of breath. It provides a quick and easy way to slow your pace of breathing, making each breath more effective.

What does pursed lip breathing do?
Pursed lip breathing:

  • Improves ventilation
  • Releases trapped air in the lungs
  • Keeps the airways open longer and decreases the work of breathing
  • Prolongs exhalation to slow the breathing rate
  • Improves breathing patterns by moving old air out of the lungs and allowing for new air to enter the lungs
  • Relieves shortness of breath
  • Causes general relaxation

When should I use this technique?
Use this technique during the difficult part of any activity, such as bending, lifting or stair climbing.

Practice this technique 4-5 times a day at first so you can get the correct breathing pattern.

Pursed Lip Breathing Technique

1. Relax your neck and shoulder muscles.
2. Breathe in (inhale) slowly through your nose for two counts, keeping your mouth closed. Don't take a deep breath; a normal breath will do. It may help to count to yourself: inhale, one, two.

                                                 (figure to right)
 

3. Pucker or "purse" your lips as if you were going to whistle or gently flicker the flame of a candle.
4. Breathe out (exhale) slowly and gently through your pursed lips while counting to four.

It may help to count to yourself: exhale, one, two, three, four.

                                                (figure to right)


 With regular practice, this technique will seem natural to you.

This information is provided by The Cleveland Clinic Health System and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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Last modified: June 17, 2002
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