April 24, 2018

Benefits of hand-held fans

Mary Roberts, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Respiratory Ambulatory Care, Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Westmead Hospital

Shortness of breath is one of the most common challenges for people living with a lung disease. It can be frightening and distressing when you feel like you can’t get enough air into your lungs.

Many people find using a battery operated fan can help control breathlessness, and research has shown that a cool draft of air from a hand-held fan can be very effective. Hand-held fans are a great option because they are cheap, quiet and easily portable. A free-standing fan, a desktop fan or the breeze through an open door or window may also help.

How to use a hand-held fan

  1. Follow the three steps below and you should start to feel a benefit in a few minutes:
  2. Hold the fan about 15 centimetres from your face so you can feel the air on your top lip.
  3. Slowly move the fan from side to side so that the breeze covers the bottom half of your face.

Remember to use your controlled breathing techniques and try and relax your shoulders. To find out more about controlled breathing techniques talk to your health professional.

You can use your fan as often and for as long as you like. Keep it handy when at home and also take it with you when you go out. You may find it helpful to use your fan if you stop for a ‘breather’ after doing an activity that makes you breathless, such as walking, climbing stairs or for sudden breathlessness when you are still.

Not all fans are the same – some are hard to turn on and others make a lot of noise but don’t blow air very well. Lung Foundation Australia has tested hand-held fans available via our online shop at lungfoundation.com.au/fans. Funds raised from the hand-held fans will go towards our Respiratory Nurse telephone service fundraising campaign. Read more about this on page 7.