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] This breathing technique accesses the parasympathetic nervous system, which soothes and calms us when we feel anxious or distressed.[3]

Pursed-lip breathing can also be used effectively during asthma attacks to slow breathing and reduce the work of breathing.[4]


  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 - 404". COPD Canada.
  3. ^ https://pulmonaryfibrosisnews.com/2018/09/05/pulmonary-fibrosis-pursed-lip-breathing-anxiety/
  4. ^ "Breathing Techniques". COPD Foundation.