Breathing is an autonomous function of our body, thanks to the neurological system in fact, each person has the right rhythm to breathe, without thinking of having to do so. Dr. Francesca Puggioni, a pulmonologist at the Centre for Personalized Medicine: Asthma and Allergology in Humanitas, spoke about breathing in an interview with Cuore e denari on Radio 24.

Evaluating the quality of your breath is not easy, although having awareness of it is important.


How to understand if we breathe well?

“To understand how we breathe it can be useful to stand in front of the mirror with the chest open, so that you can observe the movements of our chest and see how you breathe with the upper abdomen and how you breathe with your chest.

We will see the diaphragm that lowers and rises to allow the lungs to expand, and then how the chest opens outward to allow the lungs to expand. It is also necessary to control the movements of the shoulders, because often when you do not have an optimal breathing you use “accessory” muscles to compensate.

This mechanism, which is completely natural, can be made more difficult by certain conditions, such as excess weight, while you are making a physical effort while relaxing on the sofa, and perhaps in postures that are not exactly optimal,” explains Dr. Puggioni.


Why do we get the impression that breathing changes under tension?

“It can happen that you feel a feeling of difficulty in breathing, from a slight discomfort to the so-called hunger for air. In these cases, it is advisable to stop first, not to panic, and control the rhythm of breathing.

This happens because, ancestrally, our organism in conditions of tension is led to prepare for the shot, stiffening all the muscles to strengthen them and move. Today we no longer apply this mechanism to the physical level, but we act on the psyche, therefore we block the respiratory muscles by holding our breath unconsciously and consequently we breathe badly.

Practicing yoga, pilates, tai chi or martial arts is particularly suitable for those with respiratory problems or those with strong emotionality that alter the rhythm of breathing, because these disciplines allow you to become more aware of your breath and thus work an effective breathing,” advises the specialist.


Poor breathing, dizziness and confusion

Poor breathing, especially when tension is present, often goes hand in hand with dizziness and mental confusion.

“The brain needs oxygen to perform its functions as best as it can: agitation, however, leads us to breathe at a much faster rate than normal, storing more carbon dioxide, which makes ideas less clear and affects brain performance.

In general, the natural rhythm is 12 breaths per minute: deep breaths in which we inhale from the nose and slowly exhale from the mouth, this allows you to oxygenate the brain well,” Dr. Puggioni advises.

It is important to underline how there can be a link between a state of anxiety and bad breathing, because as Dr. Puggioni points out “It is not easy to stay calm if you have the impression that you are breathless or if you have difficulty breathing as usual”, but “respiratory problems should not be underestimated and should be considered as such, without labeling the patient as anxious and treat him. The specialist will then make a correct diagnosis, aimed at excluding or ascertaining the presence of respiratory problems, before attributing the cause of bad breathing to a state of anxiety”.