Sunday, September 30, 2012


"Don't forget to breathe,"  I remind my patients almost everyday.  It sounds funny but its so true.. I mean deep diaphragm through nose and out through mouth  breathing.    

I say: "Smell the flowers and blow out the candle."  and most people laugh immediately and realize that yes they do not know how to breathe.  

Pay attention to your breath:  "Is your breath high up in your chest?"    "Is your mouth open"   "Are you anxious because you have not taken a deep breath today?"  "When you exercise, do you hold your breath some of the time?" 
As a dance teacher once told me;    "Let your body follow your breath."

Respiratory ailments is the catch all phrase for those with severe breathing problems:  Pulmonary disease, emphysema,  asthma, acute respiratory distress and chronic obstruction of the airway passages.  Anyway you want to name it..   IT IS SHORTNESS OF BREATH!

Every  twitch, twang and tweek of your muscle fibers  goes into the job of getting air  in thru the nose down through the trachea, through the bronchi into the bronchioles which  connect into the tiny air sacs (alveoli) containing the capillaries which  distribute  oxygenated rich blood throughout every cell in your body.   

I have seen how this disease looks:  The chest muscles prominently expanded, the shoulders drawn up high,  sallow skin stretched taut,  eyes vapid,   voice waxing and waning in volume.  Even  to force the facial muscles to smile seems like an enormous effort.

 I can get out my tools: the oximeter, the blood pressure cuff, the thermometer and stethoscope and get lots of measurements and we both agree on the numbers and we go through the motions of some sitting exercises to increase the heart rate and improve endurance with activity but still... every breath you take can sometimes feel like it could be your last.   

When I first heard a patient tell me that she will not leave the house without her portable oxygen tank completely full,    I had never even thought about needing to take "air" with you.    You literally  do just enough activity governed by how much oxygen IS  in your about self regulating or you will literally "run out of breath."

So take a slow deep breathe again.. where the air travels to the lower portion of the lungs where the oxygen exchange is most effective.. heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, muscles relax, tensions relax and the mind calms.. and remeber how it feels to come up for air once in awhile.