It is estimated that we breathe about 25,000 times a day and most of the time we don’t realize we are doing it. However, for some it may not be so easy, due to asthma, for example, or after surgery. But can products to improve lung function make a difference? ADRIAN MONTI asked experts to evaluate a selection, which we then rated.
30ml, £25, dropfx.com
SAY: This liquid supplement contains peppermint, coconut, monk fruit, and wintergreen. Use the pipette provided to place a drop on the back of your tongue. This, the manufacturer says, will “instantly expand your airways” and “increase oxygen flow and performance” to improve “energy levels, mental clarity, and respiratory efficiency.” The benefits “last one to three hours.”
EXPERT VERDICT: Sucking on a mint candy can sometimes make breathing easier if you have a cold or a stuffy nose, because the menthol in it can act on receptors in the nose and sinuses to reduce mucus production, says Professor Pallav Shah, consultant physician in respiratory medicine at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.
‘But I have seen no evidence that drops like these have any long-term impact. I think the manufacturer is exaggerating the product by saying that it will expand the airways and increase oxygen flow this way.’ 2/10
It is estimated that humans breathe about 25,000 times a day using our lungs.
This liquid supplement contains peppermint, coconut, monk fruit, and wintergreen.
SAY: Worn between the chest and belly button, this adjustable belt “will reduce snoring, sleep apnea, asthma, stress anxiety, and other respiratory problems,” the manufacturer says. It applies “gentle resistance” so you breathe lighter than normal and “experience calm all day long.” It can be worn while working, exercising and sleeping.
EXPERT VERDICT: Dr Simon Taggart, GP and chest specialist at Spire Manchester Hospital, says: “I see this belt as having potential as a way to do respiratory muscle training.”
‘Presumably it has some elasticity, so it acts in the same way as a resistance band you might use in a gym; By slightly restricting your breathing, you exercise your lungs and respiratory muscles.
‘But for asthma, I would try a patient on inhalers rather than recommend a belt like this. Relying solely on this belt could make things worse.
“I don’t see how it could help with sleep apnea or snoring, as other mechanisms may play a role, for example blocked or narrowed airways.” 4/10
Tilcare Respiratory Muscle Trainer
SAY: Inhaling and exhaling into this tube-shaped plastic device, its manufacturer says, will strengthen your diaphragm muscles and “help increase the volume capacity of your lungs, allowing you to breathe deeply and get more oxygen into your blood.” .
Its manufacturer suggests using it for five minutes once a day and says it offers respiratory support for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), people who have had a stroke or have Parkinson’s.
EXPERT VERDICT: “This creates a certain degree of resistance when you breathe through it,” says Professor Shah. ‘It could help people with chronic bronchitis or COPD, when the airways narrow and cause difficulty breathing.
“It could help them expel mucous secretions from the lungs more easily by strengthening the intercostal (rib) muscles.
‘But I doubt it will help with asthma. This device would not improve your lung capacity, which you cannot physically increase. But, with regular use, it could make your lungs more efficient by strengthening the diaphragm. I don’t think it’s worth buying as it will only make a small difference, unlike, say, quitting smoking.’ 5/10
SAY: The manufacturer says that this device (which consists of a tube connected to a small clear plastic box with three chambers) “helps maintain lung capacity and function after periods of inactivity” by encouraging deep breathing. Breathing forcefully through the mouthpiece causes a small plastic ball to “float” in each chamber. Use it after heart or lung surgery and ‘the quality of your breathing will improve.’
EXPERT VERDICT: “Studies have shown that these types of devices, where you inhale or exhale against resistance, are very effective,” says Dr. Taggart. ‘Wearing one for about ten minutes a day for 12 weeks has been shown to make COPD patients have less shortness of breath. It may also help patients with heart failure, as stronger muscles make it easier to clear sticky phlegm from the lungs.
‘This cheap and cheerful device is very good. I would recommend it to anyone with a weak diaphragm.’ 9/10
The manufacturer says this device “helps maintain lung capacity and function after periods of inactivity” by encouraging deep breathing.
BreathSync Stress and Anxiety Relief Necklace
Claim: Using this can “quickly and easily achieve calm and focus by slowing breathing” as a “relief for anxiety and stress,” says its creator. Put it to your lips like a whistle, inhale deeply through your nose, and then gently exhale through the pendant, focusing on “lengthening the exhale.” Its manufacturer claims that it will “reduce your heart rate” and help you achieve deeper sleep.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘This device will appeal to those who suffer from stress and anxiety-related problems and respond to tactile objects; Having this around their neck could remind them to think about their breathing,” says Dr Ari Manuel, a respiratory and sleep specialist at University Hospitals Liverpool NHS Foundation Trust. It could also help those who hyperventilate regulate their breathing, ” as it encourages them to focus on doing it more slowly and in a controlled way,” he says. “But it won’t work for everyone.” 4/10
SAY: This pocket-sized device is suitable for people with “asthma, cystic fibrosis or COPD” who need to self-monitor their breathing, the website states. It’s a spirometer, a device that measures how much air you can inhale and exhale.
It is blown through a mouthpiece that is connected via Bluetooth to a smartphone app. It measures lung function by recording how quickly and forcefully air is expelled. The results can be sent to a healthcare professional.
EXPERT VERDICT: Professor Shah says: ‘For patients with cystic fibrosis or who have had a lung transplant, we give a spirometer to monitor lung function. If you are asthmatic, I am not sure if this device has any function, since if you have difficulty breathing, that is enough to show that your condition is not under enough control.
‘For someone with COPD, it could detect an early sign that their lungs are getting worse.
“But spirometry at home is never as good as if done by a healthcare professional.” 6/10
Professional oxygen container
15 litres, £19.99, amazon.co.uk
SAY: Press the trigger on the ‘cup’ of the inhaler to release a burst of 99.5 percent pure oxygen directly into your mouth.
Its manufacturer says it “offers respiratory support when you are sick and can relieve tiredness and stress.”
It also aims to improve concentration.
Press the trigger on the ‘cup’ of the inhaler to release a burst of 99.5 percent pure oxygen directly into your mouth.
EXPERT VERDICT: Dr Taggart stresses that anyone who needs oxygen for a medical condition should receive it from the NHS, where it is supplied under strict guidelines: “pure oxygen can be very dangerous and cause a large explosion if it comes into contact with a naked flame”, it states. .
While severe respiratory distress due to COPD causes not enough oxygen to be inhaled, it can also mean that a patient is retaining too much carbon dioxide instead of exhaling it, he says. ‘If you had this problem, breathing pure oxygen from a can could cause carbon dioxide narcosis (where excess carbon dioxide causes a reduced level of consciousness). Over a prolonged period, this could lead to respiratory arrest.
‘That’s why in the hospital, COPD patients receive low doses of medical oxygen (between 24 and 35 percent pure oxygen) and the cylinder has a regulator to control the flow.
“But with this product, you give yourself a random blast totally at your own discretion.” 0/10
The device ‘tricks’ you into relaxing
SAY: This oval-shaped device (about the size of an avocado) is described as “your personal breathing trainer” and expands and contracts like a balloon in your hand. Gently shake the device and then place your thumb over its sensor.
Apparently this can detect heart rate and heart rate variability, to indicate how stressed you are. The idea is that breathing exercises help slow them down, so you relax and are ready to sleep.
You inhale as the device inflates and exhale as it deflates. Its use “can improve sleep quality by 37 percent,” “reduce anxiety in five minutes and reduce stress in ten minutes,” says the manufacturer.
EXPERT VERDICT: “The main goal of this device is to slow and regulate breathing, which helps some people relax before going to sleep,” says Dr. Ari Manuel, a respiratory and sleep specialist.
‘By mimicking breathing in a typical sleep state, you try to trick your natural drive to sleep. I imagine it would take a few weeks, not minutes, for it to take effect. Although it is not cheap, some people may want to give it a try. 7/10