Anyone who has (or had) asthma knows what a pain it can be.
The wheezing, coughing and near-constant shortness of breath are exhausting.
But chronic respiratory conditions don’t stop there… They can also lead to nasty complications.
Almost every flu season when I was younger, I got it bad. And it didn’t stop with just the flu.
The wheezing would turn into a crackling sound. The cough would get worse. And then came the fever.
Pneumonia would keep me laid up in bed for days. I remember clear as day how hard it was to breathe. It felt like a big fat guy was sitting on my chest.
I was lucky enough to grow out of my asthma. And I haven’t had a bout of pneumonia in decades.
But I learned a valuable trick from my pulmonologist along the way… one that could be really helpful right now.
Take a Breath
We’ve all heard that COVID-19’s primary target is the lungs. And pneumonia can be one of its deadly symptoms.
When the virus infects the lungs, the alveoli (these are the air sacs in the lungs) can fill with fluid, making it difficult to breathe.
If your symptoms are mild, there is a specific breathing technique you can try to loosen up the lungs.
Please keep in mind, this is NOT a substitute for emergency medical care. And this particular method hasn’t officially been shown to be effective for COVID-19.
But if you’re feeling a slight tightness in the lungs from fluid buildup, you can try something called an active cycle of breathing technique (ACBT).
There are no strenuous activities, no machines and no pills to take.
Here’s what you do…
Sit upright in a chair. Then take as deep a breath as you can and hold it for five seconds. Repeat this five times. Then do it once more and cough into a cloth as you exhale. If there’s a lot of phlegmy buildup in the lungs, this should jostle things up and out.
If you don’t have the energy to sit upright, you can lie on your stomach and breath normally, but slightly deeper than normal. Concentrate on taking deep breaths and continue for a full 10 minutes.
This generally takes a couple of cycles a day to start working, but it’s a great way to get the gunk out of your lungs.
These deep breaths – especially while holding your breath – allow collateral ventilation of the alveoli. This means that air can get behind the gunk in the lungs. And the cough pushes it up in the airway… eventually allowing it to be coughed all the way out.
These simple exercises were critical in helping alleviate my symptoms when I was younger. And I hope I don’t ever need to employ them again.
But with the ever-growing number of people getting infected with COVID-19, these techniques are good arrows to have in the quiver.
For additional tips and tricks to get you through the coronavirus crisis safe and healthy, check out our coverage here.
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