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Discharge Instructions: Pursed-Lip Breathing

Pursed-lip breathing can help you get more oxygen into your lungs and prevent shortness of breath. When you start to feel short of breath, use pursed-lip breathing to control your breathing.

Home Care

  • Use pursed-lip breathing to prevent shortness of breath when you do things such as

    exercising, climbing stairs, and bending or lifting.

  • Breathe out during the difficult part of any activity, such as when you bend, lift, or reach.

  • Always breathe out for longer than you breathe in. This allows your lungs to empty as much as possible.

  • Never hold your breath when doing pursed-lip breathing.

  • Practice these steps every day so that you’ll know how to do pursed-lip breathing when you have shortness of breath.

    • Relax the muscles in your neck and shoulders.

    • Breathe in slowly through your nose for 2 counts.

    • Pucker your lips as if you were going to blow out a candle.

    • Breathe out slowly and gently through your lips for 4 or more counts.

    • Repeat the above steps as necessary.


Illustration of man inhaling through his nose to the ocunt of 2

Illustration of man exhaling through pursed lips to the count of 4


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing

  • Increased mucus;  yellow, green, or bloody mucus

  • Fever above 101.0°F (38.3°C) or chills

  • Tightness in your chest that does not go away

    with rest or medication

  • An irregular heartbeat

  • Swollen ankles


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