How can a simple fan help with your recovery from breathlessness?

Well, here in Hull at the Wolfson Palliative Care Research Centre we have been researching how different airflow speeds from a handheld fan affect recovery from breathlessness in both patients and healthy people.

We aimed to find out what is the best airflow speed from a fan to help recovery from breathlessness. In our fan studies we asked people to take part in an exercise test called a yo-yo test which involves running up and down between two cones in time with the recorded beeps to make them out of breath.

People then used different airflow speeds from the fan to recover while we recorded their breathlessness scores, heart rate, oxygen levels and thermal images of the face.

In September, we took part in the Hull Science Festival with our Fan Activity Breathing (FAB) event. We invited members of the public to challenge themselves and compete in the yo-yo exercise test and then feel the effects of the fan during recovery.

So how did people get on? Well, the fan was a firm favourite with the children and most adults were surprised at how much difference the cool airflow from a simple fan made during breathlessness recovery!

For more on using the fan and other tips on managing breathlessness see our Guide to Living well with breathlessness.

2 thoughts on “How can a simple fan help with your recovery from breathlessness?”

  1. Can you share what your results showed, i.e. what is the best airflow speed from a fan to help recovery from breathlessness? And are the results applicable equally between the healthy and the less healthy (I’m COPD FEV1 19%). Thanks

    1. Thanks for your interest – the patient research study findings are not finalised yet. We have submitted our findings from the healthy participants’ study for journal publication and once this is accepted (hopefully) we will write a blog post on the findings. However, we can say that from what we have seen so far; a) fan is better than no fan for both healthy volunteers and patients b) however, for patients (for whom we went up to higher flow rates than in the volunteer study), very high flow rates may not be so helpful.

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