Shortness of breath

There are some who find it difficult to run since childhood, some who pant and huff and puff after walking at a brisk pace for some time, climb up the stairs and face shortness of breath.. and so on.. sharing some tips to help relieve shortness of breath.

At this stage, while shortness of breath is a critical symptom for COVID-19, use the chec\list to check the severity of the symptoms and choose your plan of action appropriately.

  1. COVID-19 screening tool is an App available in the Apple store. You can download that and use it for yourself or someone else, and use to understand whether you need to self-quarantine or not.
  2. Self assessment tool available through Mayo clinic (website) –

Use the above to check if you need to visit a doctor or call for emergency services, or you can deal with it at home.


Now, some home remedies to help get some relief and breathe normally again – if you are looking to treat it at home or looking for quick first aid relief

  1. Leaning forward helps. It feels easier to catch a breath this way when you feel shortness of breath
    • Try to sit down and lean forward (30-60 degree angle)
    • Lean forward holding a table or desk at an angle
    • Bending (to the extent possible) helps regain control of your breath. You would have seen people who run marathons do this. When they are out of breath, they bend (heads near knees) and catch their breath. Within a minute, your breathing should regulate
  2. Try to stand straight with your back against a wall for 2-3 minutes
  3. Lie down flat on your back, with a pillow under your head and a pillow under your knees
    • This position significantly helps. Sleep in this position if you can
    • Watching TV in this position diverts your mind and helps you to sustain your position to help relax and get over your shortness of breath phase
  4. Drink hot coffee, hot tea or hot water helps
    • Sit leaning forward and drink it slowly
  5. Getting a bout of fresh air helps
    • Try to take a walk outdoors or stand in the balcony
    • Fan yourself (to improve air circulation in the place)
    • Sitting near an A/C vent or switching on the fan also helps
  6. Pursed lip breathing helps
    • Inhale (to whatever extent you can initially)
    • Purse your lips (as if you are ready to whiste with your mouth)
    • Exhale slowly
    • Repeat this for a few minutes

The above techniques should help you as a first-aid quick recovery technique. Key is not to panic, and to do the above in a calm manner. Mind has a tremendous control over our body, especially breath control (Pranayama) is a technique that helps train our mind. So, as long as we do not panic and follow the above in a calm manner, the bout of shortness of breath will pass.

If you are with someone who is facing shortness of breath, your primary focus is to calm them down and tell them to remain calm and follow the above. If they are doing the above for a few minutes and the situation is not improving, seek medical help.

If you have been having shortness of breath issues for many years, and want to feel better – try the below

  1. Check your weight and your BMI and see if you need to lose pounds
  2. Get into a habit of brisk walking – start with 2 mins a day, increase it to 5 mins a day…… and every day 30 minutes
  3. Get into the habit of walking outdoors or in a local park
    • In the current situation, walk in the same place (as if you are on a treadmill) in your balcony / yard / deck / near an open window
  4. Lift your hands up, sideways and down
    • Start with 1 time, 2 times, 5 times, once every hour, and keep increasing the frequency without hurting yourself
  5. Climb stairs
    • Or have a step stool and climb on it, and get down – one foot at a time
    • Start with 1 stair / step stool and increase it to a full flight of stairs slowly as much as you can take it
    • Progressively increase and stay a little below your max potential / capability, so that you do not tend to overdo it and feel sick again.
  6. Check your diet and eliminate any foods causing excess gas / acidity
  7. Maintain your meal timings and make sure there is no long gap between meals
  8. Discuss this with your doctor and arrive at a mutual plan based on your condition
  9. Doing Pranayama helps
    1. Inhale and exhale slowly
    2. Inhale through one nostril and exhale through the other and repeat vice-versa
    3. Inhale, Hold your breath for a few seconds, Exhale (This helps increase lung capacity)
    4. Do this for 15-30 minutes every day to improve your overall health

Shortness of breath is our body’s way of telling us to slow down, take a deep breath and relax. Body needs rest.

PS: As always, this post does not replace a medical advice or need to talk to a physician. Following certain simple techniques has helped me. Sharing what I have followed and shared with friends so far! Hope this helps you!

Stay safe!

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