Pursed lip breathing is a technique that helps people living with asthma or COPD when they experience shortness of breath.
Pursed lip breathing helps control shortness of breath, and provides a quick and easy way to slow your pace of breathing, making each breath more effective.
When you feel short of breath, pursed lip breathing helps get more oxygen into your lungs and calms you down so you can better control your breath.
To practice pursed lip breathing, sit down in a chair and relax your neck and shoulder muscles.
Breathe in slowly through your nose, making sure to keep your mouth closed.
Some people find it helpful to count to themselves, "inhale, one, two." Pucker, or "purse" your lips as if you were going to whistle or gently blow out a candle.
And then breathe out, or exhale, all of the air in your lungs through your mouth slowly and gently through pursed lips.
Try to breathe out longer than your inhale. Some people find it helpful to count to themselves, "exhale, one, two, three, four."
Continue to repeat this exercise of slowly inhaling through the nose and exhaling through pursed lips until your breath becomes normal.
Pursed lip breathing works by moving oxygen into your lungs and carbon dioxide out of your lungs.
This technique helps to keep airways open longer so that you can remove the air that is trapped in your lungs by slowing down your breathing rate and relieving shortness of breath.
If you continue to be short of breath, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.
For more breathing techniques and information on living with COPD, asthma and other lung diseases, visit the American Lung Association's website at Lung.org.
Page last updated: March 27, 2023