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Information and Patient Support

Managing Breathlessness


At the end of the session, the participant will have:

  • Increased understanding of the causes of breathlessness.
  • Increased ability to evaluate their own level of breathlessness.
  • Increased skills in managing breathlessness.
  • Reduced sense of anxiety or fear when experiencing breathlessness.
  • Increased ability to safely exercise when breathless.



This session may be facilitated by a respiratory nurse or physiotherapist.




Introduction to normal breathing.Anatomy of the respiratory muscles.Lung model / diagrams.

Better Living with COPD (Ch 2).

Inspiration andexpiration.Diaphragm.

Accessory muscles.

Prolonged expiration.
Dyspnoea.Fear associated with dyspnoea.

Panic attacks.

Normal with exercise and exertion.

Not correlated with oxygen levels.
Diagram of cycle of inactivity and dyspnoea

Better Living with COPD (Ch 12).

Methods to control dyspnoea.Slow down.

Relaxed positions.

Relaxed controlled breathing techniques.

Tips for managing panic attacks.
Breathing Control Techniques.
Modified Borg Dyspnoea Scale.

Better Living with COPD (Ch 12).

Topic 3 from the Better Living with your Lung Disease DVD ‘ Managing Your Breathlessness’;
Summary and discussion.