Are you breathing correctly?
As far as bodily functions go, breathing is a bit mindless. We innately know how to do it the moment we leave the womb, and many people buzz about their day without thinking about inhaling, exhaling, inhaling… The lungs, diaphragm, and intercostal muscles work together to allow a person to breathe, explains pulmonologist Dr Jonathan Parsons. “In order for people to breathe efficiently, all of these body parts must work in unison,” he says. “If one part is dysfunctional, breathing will not be efficient.”
It’s only when we encounter an issue – asthma, other breathing conditions, or panic attacks, for instance – that we pay attention to our breath. Here’s what you need to know about breathing, from warning signs of dysfunctional breathing to ways to keep your lungs healthy and breathe better.
Signs you’re breathing wrong
Breathing may be an involuntary action, but there are some danger or warning signs to know, says Dr Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network. If you have trouble taking a deep breath, gasp for air, or have trouble completing sentences, you probably have a breathing issue, she says. Other warning signs of trouble include coughing or wheezing.
You overthink your breathing
One mistake people make is overthinking their breath, according to head and neck surgeon Dr Abbas Anwar. It’s a natural process, and overthinking it can lead to anxiety and sometimes even shortness of breath. Trust yourself. You’ve been breathing since the moment you were born. You got this.