Breath is an essential part of breathing. How to measure it? How do we know if our breath is good? And above all, how to improve it? The answers of our expert pulmonologist, Professor Bruno Housset, President of the Fondation du Souffle.
The breakdown is done in two stages: Inspiration to fill our lungs with oxygen; The expiration to release the accumulated carbon dioxide.
Thus, breathing makes it possible to provide the body with the oxygen it needs and to rid it of carbon dioxide also called CO₂. Specifically, when inhaling, the diaphragm descends and the chest expands. The lungs will then expand and fill with air. Air from either the nose or the mouth reaches the lungs and pulmonary alveoli, and then the blood vessels. The latter expel the CO₂ upon expiration. According to pulmonologist Bruno Housset, “to have a good breath is first of all not to think about your breathing. The latter must be natural. If you feel out of breath, it is better to consult your general practitioner who will refer you to a pulmonologist if necessary.”
How to measure your breath?
Bruno Housset, pulmonologist, specifies that the interrogation carried out by the general practitioner and/or a pulmonologist is essential, in particular, to detect COPD early.
There are several devices and tests that can measure patients’ breath. These devices are used by doctors, either at your GP or with a pulmonologist. The peak flow meter measures in liters per minute the peak expiratory flow, i.e. the maximum airflow produced when blowing as energetically as possible. The spirometer is an electronic device that measures the maximum expiratory volume during the 1st second, that is, the amount of air exhaled in one second after filling the lungs to the maximum. The six-minute walking test (TM6) is a simple stress test to perform for all patients.
Other more sophisticated tests may sometimes be justified.
The effects of age on breathing and breathing
Pulmonologist Bruno Housset specifies that “with age, nothing gets better! As with wrinkles, the lungs and especially their connective tissue is less elastic and looser. Similarly, the configuration of the rib cage changes with the passing years.” The doctor also recalls that in smokers this decrease is greater. “It should also be noted that there are inflammatory phenomena that appear with age, so we become more sensitive to external aggressions such as pollution and tobacco,” says the President of the Fondation du Souffle. As for the interaction with the environment, it can also have long-term effects, especially for certain professions that exposure to toxic products.
How to improve your breath?
According to Bruno Housset, exercise is fundamental to maintain a good breath and/or improve it: “sport is not necessarily mandatory, but the fact of doing physical activity regularly, walking, for example, allows you to improve your breath. As with athletes, the respiratory muscles need training.” Obviously, the doctor recommends not to expose oneself to aggressors, in number 1 we obviously find tobacco, but also pollution: “we must avoid doing sports when there is a peak of pollution, but also near the main traffic routes.” Also, know that yoga allows you to work your breathing optimally and that it is also advisable to have physical activity for people with asthma. In case of disharmony of functioning of the respiratory muscles (hyperventilation syndrome), source of shortness of breath, respiratory rehabilitation is to be considered with a specialized physiotherapist.