Breathlessness Support

Breathing problems are very common in many conditions. Breathlessness can be frustrating, tiring and worrying for all those concerned. We recognise the impact of breathlessness on people’s lives and the people around them.

While breathlessness can be a difficult symptom to live with, there are ways you can reduce its impact on your life. Understanding why breathlessness happens, how the body responds and how you can control these responses can be a very useful way of managing your breathlessness.

This video produced by Cambridge University Hospitals, UK, will show some of the causes of breathlessness.

Managing Breathlessness

The following section contains breathing techniques that may help you manage different activities. Breathing problems are very common in many conditions.

It is normal to use your breathing accessory muscles when breathless but also important to relax and ‘switch them off’ once the breathlessness episode has past. If you tend to breathe with small, fast breaths from the top of your chest, you may find taking slower, deeper breaths from your lower tummy helps you to recover from activity and to settle if you feel panicky.

Will using a fan help my breathlessness ?

When breathlessness you may instinctively go to an open door or window to ‘get some fresh air’. Research has shown that in a similar way a cool draught of air from a handheld fan can reduce the feeling of breathlessness. Watch this video produced by Cambridge University Hospitals, UK.

Breathing Techniques and Exercises


This section contains some national support groups and resources related to the conditions; COPD, IPF and cancer.

         This is a link to the COPD website :

         This is a link to the IPF website  :

          This is a link to the Irish Cancer Society website  :

An information booklet on lung cancer can be downloaded here : link


The following links may provide some useful information for you if you are supporting somebody at home with a chronic condition.

        Caring for Carers website

        Family carers Ireland help and advice section can be found here 

Advance care planning

What does planning for the future mean? We plan so we can prepare for and influence events that may happen in the future. People plan for the future in different ways; by saving for a rainy day, contributing to a pension, by making a will or by making an advance healthcare directive. Planning for the future also includes talking with your family and doctors about your wishes and preferences should you become very unwell and unable to communicate for yourself. Everyone should plan for the future as anyone’s health can change suddenly. For some people, planning for the future can feel overwhelming. When you are living day-to-day with long-term illness, it may feel like the last thing you want to do. However, planning for the future can be helpful because it can give you some control over matters that may affect you in the future.

The following links contain further information about tools that can support planning for the future. For further information please do not hesitate to talk with your health care professional.

Relaxation and Mindfulness Resources

Relaxation is a skill that takes practice for it to become a natural response. It may be that you have developed a habit of tensing up in certain situations such as if you are expecting your breathing to be worse. It is important to practice relaxation to help with these times to reduce tension and the stress hormone, adrenaline.

The following tracks contain relaxation exercises that you may find helpful to practice