Addressing the underlying condition is the primary treatment for dyspnea, or difficulty breathing, and may include taking antibiotics for an infection, draining fluid from filled lungs, shrinking a tumor with chemotherapy or radiation, or using blood thinners for a blood clot, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Some medications may be helpful in relieving symptoms.
Medications used for dyspnea vary depending on the cause but may include bronchodilators to open the airways, anti-anxiety drugs to avoid panic that aggravates symptoms, and steroids to reduce lung swelling, confirms the University of Rochester Medical Center. Pain medications may also facilitate breathing. Relaxation and breathing techniques may be helpful, and some doctors prescribe oxygen to help patients breathe.
Patients can manage their dyspnea by reducing anxiety levels, meditating, conserving energy and limiting their activities, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Upon a doctor's recommendation, patients may try diaphragmatic breathing, which involves expanding the abdomen during breaths. Another option is pursed-lip breathing, in which patients breath in through their nose and out through a small, central opening between pursed lips. Sleeping with extra pillows, sleeping in a recliner, sitting straight up in a chair and leaning forward slightly may ease breathing difficulty while at rest.