Effective Breathing Exercises for Post Covid Patients

The coronavirus attacks the lungs and respiratory system, sometimes resulting in significant damage. COVID-19 often leads to pneumonia and even acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a severe lung injury. Recovering lung function is possible but can require therapy and exercises for months after the infection is treated.

The Active Cycle of Breathing Techniques (ACBT) is one way to help clear the sputum (cough) from the chest. ACBT is a set of breathing exercises that loosens and moves the sputum from the airways.  These exercises are breathing control, deep breathing and huffing which are performed in a cycle until the chest feels clear. It is best to be taught ACBT by a physiotherapist.
Breathing control

This is breathing gently, using as little effort as possible.

· Breathe in and out gently through the nose if possible otherwise, breathe through the mouth.
· If breathe out through the mouth, purse the lips like blowing out a candle
· Try to let go of any tension with each breath out
· Gradually try to make the breaths slower
· Try closing the eyes to help focus on the breathing and to relax.

 It is very important to do breathing control in between the more active exercises of ACBT as it allows the airway to relax.  Breathing control can also help short of breath or feeling fearful, anxious or in a panic.
Deep breathing exercises

Take a long, slow, deep breath in, through nose if possible. Try to keep the chest and shoulders relaxed. Breathe out gently and relaxed, like a sigh. Do three-five deep breaths. Ask the therapist to help choose the right number of deep breaths. Some people find it helpful to hold their breath for about two-three seconds at the end of the breath in, before breathing out. Try the deep breathing exercises both with and without holding the breath and see which works best.

A huff is exhaling through an open mouth and throat instead of coughing. It helps move sputum up the airways to clear it in a controlled way. To “huff” - squeeze air quickly from the lungs, out through the open mouth and throat, as if trying to mist up a mirror or the glasses. Use the tummy muscles to help squeeze the air out, but do not force it so much that may cause wheezing or tightness in the chest. Huffing should always be followed by breathing control. There are two types of huff, which help to move sputum from different parts of the lungs.

The small-long huff
This will move sputum from low down in the chest. Take a small to medium breath in and then huff (squeeze) the air out until the lungs feel quite empty.

The big-short huff
This moves sputum from higher up in the chest, so use this huff when it feels ready to come out, but not before. Take a deep breath in and then huff the air out quickly. This should clear the sputum without coughing.

Need more advice or treatment? Many health care experts at antarnaad are always here to help you out. Antarnaad is a growing network of experienced physiotherapists, providing treatment for all the conditions. For more information visit our website www.antarnaad.net or call our consultant: Mb: 9899700187