COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can cause lasting lung damage. Lung damage accounts for a majority of Long COVID symptoms including fatigue, chronic dry cough, and shortness of breath. According to Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D., M.H.S., a lung disease expert at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, recovery from lung damage is certainly possible, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Through consistent treatment and therapy, lung damage can be reversed.
One type of therapy in particular that plays a huge role in improving lung function in long haulers is respiratory therapy. Respiratory therapy increases lung capacity, improves diaphragm function, and restores respiratory muscle balance. Long haulers from the Pulmonary Wellness & Rehabilitation Center in New York have been practicing respiratory exercises to alleviate many of their Long COVID symptoms. These breathing exercises include diaphragmatic breathing and pursed lip breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing: lay down and place one hand over your chest and another hand over your stomach. Focus your awareness on your breath by feeling your abdomen expand as you breathe. The goal of this exercise is to slow down your breathing rate and decrease oxygen demand.
Pursed lip breathing: inhale through your nose for two seconds and exhale through pursed lips for four seconds. The goal of this exercise is to control shortness of breath, expand airways, and improve ventilation.
Marion Mackles, a cardiopulmonary physical therapist at this rehabilitation center recommends COVID-19 long haulers to practice these exercises twice every day.
In addition to diaphragmatic breathing and pursed lip breathing, other breathing exercises like slow deep breathing and yoga techniques have also been identified by the British Medical Journal for long haulers. Be sure to consult a specialist or doctor to see which techniques are best suited for you.
As of now, management and treatment for COVID-19 long haulers has been limited and scarce. Approximately 10% of people experience long-term effects of COVID-19, which is approximately 2 million people in the United States. Join our fight and help advocate for other long haulers by signing this petition and donating to our GoFundMe.
Fahmy, Asmae. “Breathing Exercises For Chronic COVID-19: What They Are and How They Help.” Verywell Health, 8 Dec. 2020, www.verywellhealth.com/breathing-exercises-chronic-covid-19-5077693.
Greenhalgh, Trisha, et al. “Management of Post-Acute Covid-19 in Primary Care.” The BMJ, British Medical Journal Publishing Group, 11 Aug. 2020, www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3026#.
Sheehy, Lisa Mary. “Considerations for Postacute Rehabilitation for Survivors of COVID-19.” JMIR Public Health and Surveillance, JMIR Publications, 8 May 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7212817/.
“What Coronavirus Does to the Lungs.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/what-coronavirus-does-to-the-lungs.