Is there help for difficulty with breathing?

When you have difficulty breathing (also known as dyspnea), your day-to-day activities become limited and you live with the stress—and fear—of not being able to catch your next breath. Depending upon the cause and severity of your problem, there are several ways to find relief. 

  • Sometimes simple measures—such as repositioning your body or increasing air movement by using a fan or opening a window—can make you more comfortable.
  • Special relaxation techniques may also be beneficial.
  • Oxygen breathed in through a nasal cannula is often helpful, but may not be the best solution for everyone.
  • Certain medicines, called antitussives, can help to control coughing and reduce secretions.
  • Anti-anxiety medications can address the fear and apprehension caused by breathlessness.
  • Opioid medications, such as low doses of morphine, work incredibly well to ease breathing discomfort, particularly toward the end of life.

Learn more about help to ease breathing trouble in serious or chronic illness.