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7 Tips to Avoiding Shortness of Breath When Eating

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Updated January 17, 2010

While shortness of breath may be your constant companion if you have COPD, experiencing it while eating can be very frustrating. It can also lead to malnutrition, a common complication of COPD.

If you are finding it difficult to complete a meal, try these 7 tips to help you manage shortness of breath during mealtimes:

1. Clear Your Airways Before Eating

Before you eat, make sure you attempt to clear your airways of mucus. This will help you breathe better while eating.

2. Eat and Chew Your Food Slowly

Take small bites and chew your food slowly. Be sure to breathe while you are eating. Put your utensils down between bites to ensure that you eat slower. This will help you retain energy, making it easier to breathe.

3. Eat Foods That Are Easy To Chew

Eating foods that are easy to chew will help you conserve energy so you have more for breathing.

4. Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals

Instead of eating 3 larger meals, try eating 6 smaller meals. This will keep your stomach from feeling too full and make it easier to breathe.

5. Save Beverages Until After Your Eat

When you drink liquids during your meals, you may have a tendency to fill up quicker causing you to feel full or bloated. This can cause difficulty breathing. Try waiting until the end of your meal to drink your beverages. But, of course, if you need to, sip water while you eat to make the food go down easier.

6. Eat While Sitting Upright

Lying down or slumping while eating can cause pressure on your diaphragm. Sitting in an upright position while eating can help reduce pressure and allow you to breathe better.

7. Use Pursed-Lip Breathing

While eating, if it becomes difficult to breathe, try using pursed-lip breathing until you catch your breath.

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