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Can't breath

Quick Tips for Relief When You Can’t Breathe

Having difficulty breathing may be a minor or major issue. Learn how to identify the difference quickly and get help if needed. If you aren’t sure, try one or both techniques which can help benign causes of shortness of breath such as poor air quality, stress, or a minor viral infection. However, shortness of breath or labored breathing can be a sign of something life-threatening such as a heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or asthma attack.

Try Deep Breathing:

Breathing from your diaphragm activates your parasympathetic nervous system and calms you down. Place a hand on your stomach and slowly breathe through your nose. Fill your stomach with air and let it expand as you inhale and decompress as you exhale. Inhale for 2 counts and exhale for 4 counts. Do this for about 5 minutes in a comfortable position to calm your breath and destress.

Pursed Lip Breathing:

This technique may be helpful if you have asthma or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and are experiencing shortness of breath. Pursed lip breathing slows down your breathing pattern, making each breath more effective. Start by inhaling through your nose with your mouth closed. Exhale with your lips pursed as if you are blowing out a candle. Again, inhale for 2 counts and exhale for 4 counts. Doing so allows your airways to remain open for longer and removes the air trapped in your lungs.

Warning Signs that Warrant A Medical Emergency

Difficulty breathing or respiratory distress are one of the top reasons people go to the emergency room.

Signs of an asthma attack include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing
  • Change in color (turning blue/gray especially around the lips)
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tightened neck or chest muscles (retractions)
  • Feelings of panic

Your labored breathing might not be related to a respiratory illness. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek help right away. These are potential signs of a heart attack:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Pain that spreads to your arms, neck, jack, or back


To book an appointment with our helpful team, contact Advanced ER today at (214) 494-8222 or contact us online!