It is common for people to feel breathless following a respiratory illness like COVID -19, both during the initial stage of the illness and whilst recovering. You may find yourself getting short of breath walking up and down stairs, feeling tightness in your chest, or having to regularly stop to catch your breath. This can often make people feel scared, anxious or start to panic and may limit daily activities. There are lots of things you can do to improve this however, and we are here to support you through it. We may refer you on for further investigations, or refer you to rehabilitation services to improve your breathing. In the meantime, please find below some self-management resources which you may find useful.
Disordered breathing patterns
Breathing pattern disorders are changes to the way in which you breathe. They can range from simply using different muscles, breathing only from the upper chest, through your mouth, breathing more quickly or more deeper or even taking shallower breaths. There are many triggers for a breathing pattern disorder, with COVID-19 being one of them. Breathing patterns can change during an illness, without returning to normal, and this new way of breathing becomes the “new normal”. The clinician may ask some questions related to your breathing during your initial consultation, to ascertain whether there is any indication of a disordered breathing pattern. If this is suspected, they may refer you to some self-help resources or to respiratory physiotherapy led breathing groups. In the meantime, here are some resources you may find helpful.
Managing post COVID cough
Coughing is a natural way for your body to try and clear any irritants from the lungs. Some infections, such as COVID-19, can leave you with a long-term dry cough because your lungs have been irritated, although there can also be other reasons for a cough. Your clinician will discuss your cough with you in detail, to decide whether they think you need any further investigation, medication (for example if your cough is possibly caused by something like reflux), or referrals. In the meantime, have a look at this very useful guide to post-covid coughs.
Some things you might also find helpful with your cough:
- Blow your nose if it’s runny, and try not to sniff
- Take small sips of a drink if you feel the cough coming on
- Stay hydrated
- Soothe your throat with warm drinks.
Inhaler technique videos
If you have been given inhaler for any respiratory condition, using your inhaler with a good technique is very important.
Nasal spray technique
You might have been recommended to try a nasal spray. If so, watch the video below which demonstrates a good technique to get the most out of your spray.