Medical Questions > Conditions and Diseases > Asthma Forum

Can't Take a Deep Breath (Page 4)


March 18th, 2006
Webtrance:

i've had the same thing- with the heart, I mean. It feels not so much like a "racing heart" but rather a "pounding heart," yeah? Like it's beating "louder" than normal? Or maybe that's just me. The only thing i've found that helps is reducing my sugar intake. That and chiropractor/stretching. I wonder if it's muscles in the chest/back tightening up, making it feel like there's something wrong with the heart, when it's really just making us more aware of our hearts? It's strange, no doubt.

James:

we should start a club, damnit. Secret handshake and all. :) seriously though, I know what you mean re: nighttime. Some nights I have to read in bed until I fall asleep with the light on just so I don't have to try and sleep while worried about having an "episode."

anxiety is interesting to me- I don't feel anxious, but I have to admit that when i'm feeling really freakin' happy, I don't tend to feel like I can't breathe. As a matter of fact, it's a downward spiral only- when I feel bad, I can't breathe, so I feel worse, and I can't breathe, etc. Sleep "resets" it, I think, because I wake up with a new chance to have a good day.

Or maybe i'm talking out my hoo-ha. It's easy to jump on "solutions," especially when it's a problem that's so constant and misunderstood (y'all know what i'm talking about).
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replied March 19th, 2006
Atlascoughed and webtrance:

woah... You guys just described exactly what I do. I went to a chiropractor and he gave me acupunture, I think it helped but it was a while ago. I read until 4-5 in the morning sometimes and I like to leave the light on, for some reason it reassures me. My heart races sometimes too, and occasionally it misses a beat and pounds real hard, my gp said its normal though?! Apparantly about 1 in 10 have a similar thing. I will try those excercises you mentioned and have been eating better and working out at home as i'm about 10 kilo's overweight. Unfortunately where I am it's coming to winter soon, although it doesn't get as cold here as it does in the northern states(i've been to chicago in december!) it does affect my general health.

Atlascoughed: really, you need to quit smoking!!I don't want to get preachy but it's a terrible habit! I gave up when I was 19 and I don't miss it at all any more. So good luck with that.

i'll start working on the "secret club" passwords and initiation rituals. Kidding... :)
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replied March 19th, 2006
Could Be Low Blood Pressure And/or Dehydration
I have the same problem getting a deep breath sometimes. For me i've figured out it's due to dehydration and low blood pressure. Low blood pressure can cause breathing problems. I do intense cardio several times a week and have fairly low blood pressure. Also, dehydration can cause low blood pressure, which causes the breathing problems. Even mild dehydration can make this happen. I noticed many of the people posting mentioned that they are runners/athletes so it might be worth eating some fruit and drinking some water when this happens to see if the symptoms subside.

Caffeine also causes this problem for me, especially if my blood pressure is low.

I wonder if for some people they might have a rib out of place--a chiropractor can help if that's the case. This has also happened to me before. Sometimes lying on the floor and breathing deeply and doing spinal twists can pop my rib back into place.
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replied March 19th, 2006
Can't Take a Deep Breath
I googled and found this too. My husband wants me to see a doctor because of it but it seems that they don't know how to diagnose the problem. I feel silly trying to explain to a doctor that I can't take a satisfying deep breath. I believe that I breath fine. It doesn't hurt and doesn't keep me awake. It's just annoying to try and breath deeply but not deep enough to make it over the threshold of feeling good. And when it finally is satisfying, you do it all over again. I believe stress triggers it. Sometimes I don't even know i'm trying to take deep breaths until my husband asks me if i'm having trouble breathing. I noticed about 10 years ago, that I started sighing a lot. I don't seem to have control over that either. I'm 36. It seems that the sighing might be a mild case of the problem and then it grows into the need for deep breaths which last days sometimes, like now, or just a few hours or not at all. Do you think it is worth seeing a doctor? I don't have very good insurance and it looks like it is misdiagnosed as something it isn't. I'm also afraid that once I make an appointment, I won't be experiencing the problem.
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replied March 22nd, 2006
Yet Another Twist
This is the 4th day out of the past 5 that I can't breath. I've been to all the docs- they all say asthma, but meds don't work. Although I will be completely honest and admit to being a fairly anxious person, I have never had an anxiety attack. I also cannot relate to it getting worse at night. I get no relief from changing positions, either. I would describe my symptoms more like shortness of breath- most of the time lasting the rest of the day from onset of symptoms. I also cannot fill my lungs with air. I can't seem to get air all the way to the bottom of my lungs. If I move about or attempt the least little bit of physical exertion ( like walking! ), it gets so bad that I feel incredibly dizzy and faint. But even if I sit in a chair and don't move at all like I am now, the shortness of breath remains, just less intense. It seems to go away only after a night of sleep. I wake up feeling perfectly fine, full of energy and happy but then, usually after I have gone outside...Wham! It's back again- probably for the rest of the day. I seem to have more trouble at certain times of the year like now, early spring, so I am inclined to think it is allergy related, but again, meds don't help. Can anyone relate?
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replied March 23rd, 2006
Torsoqueen, I totally relate. I am so happy to have found this forum because I feel like i'm crazy with this. I have dealt with this for about ten years (i'm 38 now) and have been to a few docs but no one seems to know or even act like they have heard of this problem. I had an ekg at one point because I really thought it was a heart attack. I have been given inhalers and antacids. Strangely enough, the antacid seemed to work a little. I also have this every spring and sometimes throughout the summer although the timing can vary from starting in march (like now) to starting in june. Sleep is more difficult which leadsto irritability and anxiety. It seems to have many possible causes but nothing is consistent. I describe the feeling as trying to climb over a wall but not being able to pull myself over. I'm sorry others are also feeling this but at the same time it feels good to know I am not alone. Good luck to all.
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Users who thank tryg for this post: malenazaster  mrsbusy06 

replied March 24th, 2006
Cant Take Deep Breath
Hey guys im happy not happy but relieved to see that more people then just me have this problem. My 3 doctors ive been to in 4 days are all stumped. I hate this feeling I dont think anybody has any idea how miserable it can get my question do you think if I bought a air purifier thing to catch the dust and crap out of my air it would help. Ive had asthma before and they gave me a new abutral and advair inhalers, keep in mind my asthma hasnt kicked at all in 6 years and im now 20 im stumped about this just happened about a week ago and thought I was going to die my dad had painted the house and I almost passed out went to the er did blood tests and everything. Didnt find anything said it must be upper resp. Infection or something. Grabbed a hotel that night to get out of the paint and its been the same sense. Its so frustrating its hard to sleep prob gotten like 9 hours of sleep this week seriously. Im healthy oxygen level was 100% at the er that night im an amateur body builder blood tests done reg. Bp is perfect diet is extremely well low low sodium right fats etc. I dont know why this would come into effect to someone of my stature. Think I should see anxiety doctor I dont have much stress as im just a student and no axiety to know of. Should I just see another allergy specialist or what.
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replied March 24th, 2006
This Is What the Doc Told Me
I saw a specialist today. We ruled out asthma and had a chest x-ray that showed everything was fine there. He just simply told me I had "hyperventilation syndrome". And if you google those words with the "" then you get 50,000 hits. He also said it could be called "unrewarded breathing" or "sighing respiration". He said he could give me meds that would help with the stress, but I declined because I didn't like the sound of the side effects. I don't know if that helps anyone. I have a little peace of mind knowing i'm not going to die from it.
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replied March 24th, 2006
Yeah im relieved that I dont think its anything serious anymore just pisses me off the doctors dont have any idea how to pinpoint the situation. And either way its still miserable I havent been in the gym in a week and a half scared too feels like im gonna die of not breathing while im in there.
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replied March 28th, 2006
Hi

i get exactly the same thing. I've battled to take deep breaths for years. It gets really bad at night - sometimes I wake up and have to get on my hand and knees, let my stomach out so that I can get a deep breath. I've also noticed it always happens when I eat - maybe I hold my breath in...Not sure.

Often I have to take at least 6/7 'false' breaths (the air just goes in superficially) and after trying so hard, I feel dizzy and light headed.

I definitely think it's due to stress.

Wish I could find a way to make it stop. No one else I know suffers from this!
Lee
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replied March 28th, 2006
Cant Get It Outta My Head
I hate to say that this thread "comforts" me, because I feel bad for anyone who has this problem, but knowing I am not dying and not alone is reassuring. I am 15, and this problem started when I was 14. It was in the summer, in florida, and I came back to nj with it. Whenever I dont think about it, it stops. The second I am unoccupied, I begin yawning for air. I can sometimes stay 2 minutes with my mouth open waiting for a yawn. It's horrible, and I dont think I want to just wait it out, because people 20 and 60 alike are on here with the same problem. I dont think I am allowed to do the eft acuouncture-like method..I just want some answers. I have had an ekg, chest x-ray, asthma test//all came back fine. I hope it isnt psychological. I am somewhat anxious about certain things. Whenever someone is late or driving in the snow or anything possibly dangerous I get petrified. I havent had sleeping problems. I was thinking of developing a "if that doesnt work.." thread, where the people who've had this problem and had it solved can post their cures.

Vincent
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replied April 2nd, 2006
Experienced User
I also had similar problems as you guys not been able to get a ful breath in.. My doctor said it was due to lik epanic attacks but if u cant breath what do u do.. Panic?? Well ido anyway.. The reason it helps when u sleep is because ur body relaxes and u stop getting so uptight and everything relaxes so ucan get a full lung of air when u wake up...
The reason it makes you so tired is because you are trying to breath too much and everything is working over time..
Although I no all this it still happens I try to calm myself down or try to rest so tht I can breath normally but it doenst always help..
Hope this has helped few people..
X x x
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replied April 3rd, 2006
I've had the same problem described here for the past 4 weeks with the exception of a few hours. Most often it feels like I can't get a full satisfying breath. Sometimes it feels like it's hard to breathe, and I have chest tightness. It's there when I wake up and all day. I also find myself manually breathing much of the time rather than letting my brain breathe for me.

I've seen several doctors. I've had a cbc/chest x-ray/spirometry/chest ct. Everything is normal and the doctors say nothing's wrong. I'm tempted to keep pushing forward to find a doctor that can figure out what's wrong but i'm beginning to think it's psychological.


All the research i've done points to hyperventilation syndrome or something similar. Also called "psychogenic dyspnea". It's so hard for me to accept that such a chronic, unrelenting problem can be psychological.

Here's what seems to help:
-exercise (i don't notice it much when exercising)
-yoga
-being distracted (if that's possible, doing things actively, going out to eat, hiking, etc)
-not taking checking breaths to see if I can get the full breath. We all sigh naturally like a few times an hour, not once a minute etc.

Imo what's happening here is that we're overbreathing, which is lowering our co2 levels and causing these symptoms.

I think most people here would benefit from seeing a psychologist or md who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy to learn not to be afraid of the breathing problem. If the problem persists after a workup, then learning that it isn't dangerous and is just uncomfortable and annoying is the key to stop obsessing about it. The problem was probably triggered by stress and is being fueled after that by our fear of suffocating and further by our fear that something is terribly wrong with us (hypocrondria). This keeps us in a constant state of fear which itself can cause trouble breathing. I don't feel anxious most of the time, but im' still a bit obsessed with not being able to take a deep breath and wondering what's wrong. Difficulty breathing is supposedly common in gad (http://www.Healthyplace.Com/communities/a nxiety/christine/info.Htm).

Another option is breathing retraining with co2 biofeedback. I've read that simply retraining breathing, using diaphragmatic breathing slow breathing etc, is not nearly as effective if it is not coupled with co2 biofeedback because the goal of slow breathing is to increase co2, yet without actually monitoring your co2 levels, you could be breathing slower yet deeper and dropping your levels. I'm going to try this.

I think everyone with this problem should be checked out thoroughly by an md because there are so many physical problems that can cause shortness of breath and a psychological cause can only be identified after excluding everything else.

Some links:
http://www.Chestjournal.Org/cgi/content/ab stract/105/1/168
mechanisms of dyspnea

http://merck.Micromedex.Com/index.Asp?Page =bpm_report&article_id=bpm01pu04&s ection=report&ss=2

hyperventilation syndrome - a patient's guide
hyperventilation syndrome: a diagnosis begging for recognition
breathing chemistry
capnobreath training
stanford study
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replied April 7th, 2006
I experience the symptoms that you all have described (inability to take deep satisfying breath, inability to yawn, thinking about it makes it worse) maybe once or twice a year for the past couple of years and usually it lasts for a few days but it's not that severe. I have come to the conclusion that for me personally, the main trigger is stress.
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replied April 7th, 2006
Another Sufferer
I've been dealing with this off and on for 12 years. My symptoms are very much like most of the posts -- an urge to take a deep breath but unable to get it, trying to yawn but can't, finally getting a satisfying breath after several attempts and then going through the whole thing a few moments later. I get "bouts" of this for a few days and then i'm fine for a while. Sometimes i'll go months without any trouble. It happens at different times during the day, and, when i'm having a bout, it's certain to occur at night when I lie down to go to sleep. I'm fairly certain it has nothing to do with stress, as it's happened to me during both stressful and easygoing periods in my life. I'm otherwise very healthy, and my lung capacity hasn't decreased since i've had this problem.

Some of the theories included in these posts are interesting. There's been some mention of low blood pressure, and i've been considering that one. I'm a runner, and my blood pressure seems low at times (i get dizzy if I stand up too quickly). And, it seems that my bouts have not occured during times that i've laid off running and gotten out of shape. But the bouts are too intermittent to say for certain. Also, i've had the breathing problem at various stages of rest and exercise, so it's hard to cite any physical trigger that the low blood pressure would be causing.

The allergy theory could be valid. I considered a food allergy, but after tracking my diet for a few weeks I didn't see any real link. The literature on food allergies has a lot to say about a relationship between breathing problems and peanuts, and there are traces of peanuts in a lot of foods. But I didn't notice much of a correlation. I'm able to eat straight peanut butter without a noticeable reaction. I've never given up coffee, but i've had many weeks of clear satisfying breathing while still having my morning coffee.

I have cats and a dog. But I had this trouble long before I lived with any cats or dogs.

Then there are environmental allergies. This is probably the most realistic theory. I've had this problem in almost every season, while living in the south, the desert southwest and the pacific northwest. Just the same, molds and pollens are everywhere, at most any time. And my certain nighttime bouts could be explained by pollens and/or mites staying in bed linens. I've never been to an allergist, but I may give that a try one of these days, but i'm not expecting that to show much. Then there's the industrial pollution angle. I suppose this could be. I've lived in cities since i've had this condition, so it's hard to tell. I do remember the problem going away last summer when I spent a week at the beach. But the vacation also took me away from stress, my bed linens and my regular diet. And it could have been coincidence. My bouts do fade away after several days.

There's been one mention of lyme disease. I haven't researched that one yet, but the idea of it is interesting. I'm going to check it out a bit further.

Thanks to all of you who have posted. It's good to know that you're out there. I'm sure that if we keep exchanging information we'll get on the track to figuring this out.
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replied April 8th, 2006
Just a note, I am also a runner and train and race competitively in a college team for cross country and middle distance running in track and field. My blood pressure is also pretty low but it is low at all times and not necessarily when i'm having the breathing problem.

I noticed that every year around the same period of time (september) when the busy college semester begins and our competitive racing season begins, I begin having this issue...That's why I think the main trigger for my problem is from stress (both physical and mental stress) although other things can also probably trigger it.

When I am not training competitvely even though I will still be physically active (two weeks in the summer) then I almost definately don't have this problem...My body is just less tense and it's also one of the least stressful times of the year for me.
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replied April 8th, 2006
Stress Or Training Effect
You may be right about the stress correlation, tnfnorth. But what about the fact that the beginning of your competitive season probably also coincides with a marked increase in your vo2 capacity? Personally, i've noticed a significant correlation between my exercise intensity and onset of symptoms, regardless of external stressors. I wonder if there's something to the idea that our lungs are getting "stretched" by intensive exercise, or that our workouts are causing us to draw a lot more oxygen (and allergens) deeper into our lungs, thus triggering cause the symptoms that would normally be unnoticeable.
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replied April 8th, 2006
I've been an avid cyclist for years, riding 100-125miles a week up 4-5k foot mountains. I've never had a problem with this before. Only after a 4 week period of major stress did this start. Physical manifestations of stress tend to lag behind stressful events by days/weeks/months.

But I do think there may be an exercise connection. By being extremely fit, our lungs work very well and thus we barely need to breathe at all at rest to meet our oxygen needs. When we're stressed though, our body tends to breathe more - for an athlete to be breathing even a little more means that we're going to be taking in huge volumes of air, processing it very efficiently, lowering our co2, and causing our body to automatically restrict our breathing in an effort to get us to breathe less (the hyperventilation syndrome concept).

I think there is a lot of merit to the co2 biofeedback stuff, definitely worth trying. Several studies that i've found say it helps both hyperventilation syndrome symptoms and anxiety/panic in general.

I don't think it's an allergy thing, at least not for me. Have a spirometry done at a doctor if you believe this to be the case. Allergies should cause decreased peak flow and decreases in other lung function numbers, plus wheezing etc., and a bronchodilator inhaler should often reverse the symptoms.
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replied April 10th, 2006
a Workable Theory
Your theory about efficient lungs hyperventilating is an interesting one. Though I don't think it's the actual lung capacity that would be causing the super-oxygenation, as athletes don't necessarily have an extroardinary lung capacity compared to sedentary people -- it's more about blood stroke volume. But the idea is still valid. I'm going to try out some of the co2 biofeedback stuff to see if it does anything. Thanks.
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replied April 19th, 2006
Just chiming back in again here.... I have "borderline" low blood pressure. It's not super-low, just on the low end. I get dizzy when I stand, tend to pass out when sick, etc.

I am not an avid exerciser. In fact, i'm probably the least exercisey person on this thread. :) one thing I do, though, is belly dance, and i've found that I always feel better when I relax all my stomach muscles. Sometimes i'll just be walking around the mall and get the "can't breathe" feeling. I'll stop and flop my tummy muscles out for a bit and try breathing again. It seems to help.

Someone mentioned trying antacids. I used to have what seemed like really acidic urine, so I started drinking baking soda water. One day I drank quite a bit, and could suddenly breathe pretty well. I dunno what that points to, other than acid reflux.

And to the ladies- have you noticed this problem gets worse just before your menstral cycle? It does for me. There are days when I don't bother even trying to breathe. This makes me think either hormone fluxes or just plain tension.
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