Can't Breathe? Try Singing

I've heard of standing on your head to clear hiccups (doesn't work).  And throwing salt over your shoulder to ward off bad luck, after you've spilled it.

But singing when you have trouble breathing?

Apparently it's all the craze in London, where the AP says sessions held to help those with chronic lung disease get better, singing.  According to a story at, people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), who have trouble breathing because they can't get enough air in and out of their lungs, find that singing can help them learn how to better manipulate their breathing. 

"Since many people enjoy singing, we thought it would help them associate controlling their breathing with something pleasant and positive rather than a standard physiotherapy technique," Dr. Nicholas Hopkinson, Royal Brompton Hospital's top chest physician, was quoted. in the article "It's almost accidental that they learn something about their breathing through singing."

Of course, this should not replace regular treatments for COPD, and experts are in conflict over  whether this really helps at all.  Breathing tests taken after the rounds of singing don't show much lung performance, the story noted. 

As someone who developed asthma later in life, and has had an episode where I could not breathe (there's just about nothing more terrifying), ("That's what people die from," my allergist told me sternly), I've learned that anything you can do to improve how you breathe is a lifesaver.

Jogging outside this winter, I once again had trouble breathing (cold tends to close your lungs), and though I doubt I would have started singing, I tried everything I could to start getting air in again (which consisted, simply, of stopping).

No tests conclusively prove that singing helps people breathe.  But people say they feel better, and maybe that's the point.


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