Pursed lip breathing

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Pursed lip breathing (PLB) is a breathing technique that consists of exhaling through tightly pressed (pursed) lips and inhaling through the nose with the mouth closed.

Physicians, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and respiratory therapists teach this technique to their patients to ease shortness of breath and to promote deep breathing, also referred to as abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing. The purpose of PLB is to create back-pressure inside airways to splint them open; moving air thus takes less work.[1]

Breathing through pursed lips on both exhalation and inhalation is one of the signs that health workers use to detect possible chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in patients. COPD Canada suggests that using PLB has positive effects in treating stress and anxiety related disorders.[2]

Pursed lip breathing can also be used effectively during asthma attacks to slow your breathing down, reduce the work of breathing, and calm yourself.[3] To pursed lip breathe, you should inhale through your nose for two seconds, then exhale slowly through pursed lips for four seconds. If four seconds is too long, simply exhale for twice the length of time that you inhale.


  1. ^ "Efficacy of Pursed-Lips Breathing: A Breathing Pattern Retraining Strategy For Dyspnea Reduction". Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation & Prevention.
  2. ^ "Anxiety and pursed lip breathing". COPD Canada.
  3. ^ "Breathing Techniques". COPD Foundation.