Goals for patients with ineffective breathing patterns are to develop and maintain an effective breathing pattern, according to Elsevier Health's Nursing Care Planning Guides. Evidence of having achieved this goal consist of the patient demonstrating a normal rate and depth of respiration, an absence of shortness of breath and a symmetrical chest excursion.
Interventions to restore an effective breathing pattern include soothing fear and anxiety and providing effective pain relief. If fluids or gas are causing diaphragm pressure, interventions to relieve these symptoms should be provided. If possible, patients should be placed in an upright position and pillows should be used to prevent slumping, states the Nursing Care Planning Guide.
Symptoms of an ineffective breathing pattern include shallow respiration, shortness of breath (called dyspnea), limited chest excursion and use of accessory muscles when breathing, reports Elsevier Health. Chest excursion is the difference between the chest measurement at full inhalation and at exhalation.
Ineffective breathing patterns can result from fear and anxiety, which can cause rapid but shallow breathing, the Nursing Care Planning Guide advises. Many medications such as opioids both slow down and decrease the depth of inhalations, leading to ineffective breathing. Pain can make patients reluctant to breathe deeply, and fluid or gas can place pressure on the diaphragm, making it difficult for them to breathe effectively.
If these simple interventions are unable to restore an effective breathing pattern, a physician or respiratory therapist should be consulted, the guide advises.