Lifestyle and home remediesBy 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.
- Lower the room temperature. A cooler room may make it feel easier to breathe.
- Sit near a window. Sitting or lying down in a way that allows you to look out a window can help you feel less confined when you're feeling short of breath.
- Aim a fan toward your face. A fan that blows on your face may make it feel easier to breathe.
- Eat several small meals each day. Rather than a few larger meals, eat several small meals throughout the day.
- Get enough sleep so that you wake feeling rested. If you're having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about medications or other methods that may make sleep easier.
Tell your doctor if you experience shortness of breath or if your symptoms worsen.
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