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Breathlessness is a normal response to being active, but it is also normal to experience some breathlessness doing simpler tasks after having a lung infection such as Covid-19. It is important that you do not completely avoid the things that make you breathless, but you should use how breathless you feel to guide how much activity you do.

How to measure breathlessness

It may be useful to keep an activity diary to help identify what activities make you breathless and to what degree.  The Borg breathlessness scale can help you to measure your breathlessness:

0 - no breathlessness at all, 0.5 very, very slight (just noticeable), 1 - very slight breathlessness, 2 - slight breathlessness, 3 - moderate breathlessness, 4 - somewhat severe breathlessness, 5 - severe breathlessness, 6, 7 - very severe breathlessness, 8, 9 - very, very severe (almost to the maximum), 10 - maximal breathlessness

Tips for Managing Breathlessness


Sit leaning forward, with your elbows resting on your knees, or on a table. You could also lean forwards onto a windowsill or worktop if you are standing. Stand leaning backwards onto a wall, whilst letting your arms and hands relax. Use the pursed lip breathing technique described below to help you recover your breath.

Breathing control

Get into a comfortable position where you can be relaxed. Breathe in gently, preferably through your nose, but if not, through your mouth. Keep the focus on your 'out' breath. Gradually make your 'out' breath longer than your 'in' breath

If you start to feel severely short of breath and it does not get better with these positions or techniques, contact your GP to seek medical advice or in an emergency dial 999.