Breathing Pattern Disorders & Re-education

Breathing is an automatic process with air moving in and out of the lungs in response to differences in atmospheric pressure. All day, every day as you breathe, your lungs are working by absorbing oxygen from the air and transferring it into your blood stream so that it can reach every part of your body. On average we breathe 12 breaths per minute which is around 17,000 breaths every day.


Sometimes our breathing may be affected by acute illness, physiological conditions or the environment and this can cause unpleasant symptoms that interfere with our daily life. Many people with BPD have an underlying diagnosis of asthma, COPD or another respiratory condition, but bereavement, anxiety, surgery, infection or other stressful life events can also trigger BPD. More recently, BPD has become a common presentation in Long Covid patients.


Breathing pattern disorders (BPD) are patterns of abnormal breathing, where the depth and rate of breath are out of sync with our body’s needs.  There are many factors which may cause a disturbance in our breathing patterns and these may present a multitude of symptoms including breathlessness, over-breathing, shallow breathing, light headedness and over reliance on inhalers.


Common symptoms of BPD include:

  • shortness of breath
  • Tight sensation in your chest or throat
  • Cold fingers or hands
  • Dry mouth
  • Palpitations
  • Difficulty taking a deep breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • Anxiety


Following a full assessment, our physiotherapists can recommend and implement treatment strategies designed to help get you back in control of your breathing and enable you to return to your to fitness. This may include:


  • Assessment and or treatment of physical ability, trunk, rib cage and spinal mobility
  • Analysis of diaphragm and other respiratory muscle control and pattern of breathing.
  • Review of potential triggers and practical trigger management advice.
  • Symptom management advice and self-help strategies.
  • Breathing re-education exercises and coaching.
  • Onward referral to medical or psychological services should you need additional support.


Retraining your breathing can be a challenge, and you may initially feel some discomfort as your body gets used to your new breathing pattern. With expert guidance and regular practice, this discomfort will improve and patients are able to take control of their breathing again!


If you think you may have Breathing Pattern Disorder or would like our help with breathing re-education, then please contact us today in confidence.