COVID-19 can cause lung complications like pneumonia, in which the lungs are inflamed and filled with fluid. As a result, the breathing becomes difficult and laboured. In severe cases, it can lead to ARDS, acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is a respiratory failure due to low oxygen levels and the patient needs ventilator support. The severity of the impact of COVID-19 on lungs depends on pre-existing comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension, heart conditions and lung diseases like COPD.
Breathing exercises can help in improving respiratory health and lung capacity. In addition, breathing exercises relieve the stress and anxiety associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. These exercises makes your lungs strong and reduces the impact of COVID-19 and aids in recovering from it.
Pursed Lip Breathing- In this breathing, you inhale slowly and deeply through your nose and then exhale completely through pursed lips, as if you are trying to whistle. This simple breathing technique slows the pace of breathing and help you relax. Repeat 5-10 times, thrice a day. It also decreases the work of breathing by keeping your airways open longer.
Diaphragmatic Breathing-It is also known as belly breathing. Lie on your back on a flat surface with your knees bent. You can do this breathing exercise in a sitting position too. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Place hands on your abdomen one on top of the other, just below your rib cage. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose and feel your belly rise into your hands. Then slowly breathe out through pursed lips and feel your belly fall back to the starting position. Repeat 5-10 times, thrice a day.
Lower Rib Breathing –Place your hands on the outer lower part of your rib cage with fingers pointing forward and thumbs pointing backward. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose for a count of 4 and feel your ribs move outward. Then breathe out slowly for a count of 8 and feel your ribs flatten. This helps in lateral expansion of the lungs. Repeat 5-10 times, thrice a day.
Breath Holds– Small breath holds play an important role to control your breathing and to pace it. Breath in through nose for 4 seconds, pinch your nose and hold your breath for 4 seconds and then exhale through your nose for 8 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.
Breathing slow and deep is the key to enhance alveolar ventilation in COVID-19. Never breath fast and shallow when you feel breathless. Breathing should always be light and never hard. Keep these things in your mind while doing breathing exercises.
STAY SAFE! STAY HEALTHY!
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