Positions for obstructive lung conditions
In obstructive lung disease, such as COPD, asthma or bronchiectasis it takes longer to empty your lungs. The airflow is slower because the disease makes airways narrower or lungs less elastic.
Because breathing out is slower, the person may need to breathe in again before they have emptied their lungs. This is called hyperinflation or gas-trapping, and makes breathing uncomfortable.
Here are some suggestions to try
Stand leaning forward
Stand leaning forward (figure 1) lean from the hips, with your forearms resting on something at the right height, such as a chair or kitchen work surface.
When you’re out and about, you could lean on a walking stick or a frame with wheels. If you’re shopping, use your supermarket trolley.
Sit leaning forward
Sit leaning forward (figure 2): lean resting your elbows on your knees
Sit leaning forward at a table
Sit leaning forward at a table (figure 3): rest your head and arms on pillows on a table when you’re really short of breath.
Side lying with leg on the floor bent at knee
Lie on your side with pillows under your head (figure 4). Make sure the top pillow supports your neck. Slightly bend the knee of the leg you’re lying on, with your top leg straight. This can help when you’re breathless when you’re resting, such as when your symptoms flare up.
For more information about managing your breathlessness if you have COPD, go to our COPD information.