Breathlessness showing diaphragm and intercostal muscles

Breathlessness is the most common feature of lung disease.

Breathlessness can cause fear, anxiety or panic. This is can cause you/the individual to breathe more quickly and feel tense, making breathing more difficult.

When working harder to breathe we use the muscles around the shoulders and upper chest (the accessory muscles of breathing). These muscles are not designed to work for long periods of time and get tired easily. Overworked muscles use up more oxygen, increasing breathlessness rather than improving it.

Successful control of breathlessness improves confidence, reduces fear and allows individuals to do more.

Additional information
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Some patients with advanced lung disease and chest hyperinflation need to breathe using their upper chest muscles all the time because their diaphragm is low, flat and unable to work efficiently.