Medical Questions > Mental Health > Anxiety and Stress Forum

Breathless For 5 Months - Help !!!!!!!!!!! (Page 1)

Hey there,

i have been having some strange symptoms for about 5 months now and am at my wits end. The main thing is shortness of breath of sorts. I feel as if I need to take a deep breath all the time but can't fill my lungs. I then yawn to get a full breath. Sometimes I hold my yawn open for ages feeling as if I can't get air in but when I really concentrate I can breath. The only time this feeling leaves me is when I am lying down asleep and when I wake up in the morning. As soon as I stand up it starts anywhere from a minute to an hour later. It feels as if I need to push my breath down past tight muscles at the part where my throat meets my body.

I have had all the tests and they are all fine. (echocardiogram, lung function tests, barium swallow, gastroscopy, thyroid test, larygoscopy, blood tests etc etc etc). I was started on gerd medication but it does not seem to have made a difference *(although the constant sore lump in my throat is gone after 10 weeks of medication). The only thing they can find is allergy (dust and grass) but antihistamines do not solve the breathing problem.

All the doctors are saying that it is anxiety but I have none of the other classic symptoms like heart palpitations and sleeplessness. If its anxiety I can accept it and try to fix it but somewhere in the back of my mind keeps saying its something else.

Is this a classic anxiety case ?? In people with anxiety is this common ? It lasts for most of the day (not just times where I notice I am anxious). Is this typical for anxiety ?
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First Helper alexf

replied August 28th, 2006
Experienced User
See a Private Specialist
Ok do it,let a second opinion help you.
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replied August 30th, 2006
Was Just In the Er For Same Thing
For a couple of weeks now I have been overly concerned with my breathing and sometimes feeling like I couldn't get enough air in my lungs.

I finally went into the er yesterday. The hooked me up to all sorts of monitors, took a chest x-ray, an ekg, took blood, etc, etc.

The doc said he thought it anxiety related and diet related. I have been stressed-out about my health for several months now and my body is starting to react to the anxiety. This breathing thing is likely just another way my body is saying, "chill out! I can't handle this much stress."

if you are feeling a tightness in your chest and like you can fill your lungs, drive to the local er or urgent care. The doc I talked to said I wasn't over-reacting and it's good to be sure.
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replied February 4th, 2008
Hi, I have been having the same sypmtoms. Usually they come on and only last a few weeks and then go away. But this time I have had them constantly for weeks now. I did go to the doctor because I was getting a little worried. I also think they must be anxiety even though I can't think of anything I am overly anxious about. But she said I have the classic signs of anemia. I was happy, because this would explain why I felt tired all the time too (though it was just because I was exhausted at end day from trying to get air). But my hemiglobin and red cell count came back completly normal. So now what. I was told to see if it goes away and if not, try a chest Xray. I have not gone in for an xray because I just don't think that my heart is the problem. I guess I am going to try and live with it and hope it goes away soon. I do notice that the yawning is usually triggered more after I take a walk or do something. When I lay down at night to go to bed, it takes about 20 minutes but then the urge to yawn goes away until morning. It is driving me nuts too. I hold my mouth open, try to get that big, satisfying suck of air but it just doesn't come. It does eventually come after i try and try, my eyes start to water and I feel a little tight in the chest, then the big air suck comes and I feel good until it starts all over again. I am keeping a journal trying to see if something in my life it triggering this. If it gets worse I guess I will have to check my heart out (but i feel healthy and don't really think it is my heart). Try to count to 10 or recite the alphabet when yawning. For some reason, this seems to get my mind off trying to get the air and I usually do get the air. Good luck.
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replied February 20th, 2009
i have had the same symtoms as you all and have been prescribed beta blockers which have helped
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replied April 2nd, 2009
I have had this for years.
Count me in too. Have had this for years and its driving me nuts. Had so many tests and everything came back as normal. Cant sleep now always short of breath and yes the yawning is the only way to get enough air for me.
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replied June 11th, 2009
I feel exactly the same, started a few days ago and it's driving me mad. I keep telling myself it's only anxiety and to chill out but I think it's all in my subconscious.
The only relief I get is when I'm asleep. If I still have this in a few days I'm gonna go see a doctor.
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replied August 31st, 2009
anxiety and breathlessness
I, too, have had this for over a week. I had it about 6 months ago,and it just seemed to disappear. I first felt it 10 days ago. I was lying in bed and all of a sudden I felt a wave of anxiety come over me. I couldn't fall asleep that night, and the next day is when I noticed the breathlessness. I had an echocardiogram done 9 months ago and my heart is fine. So, I am thinking it's anxiety. I find myself clenching my shoulders and I need to force myself to relax my muscles.
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replied September 13th, 2009
I'm exactly going through the same symptoms as mentioned in the very first email. I used to get irritated and even more worried when the doctors said that this is just because of anxiety, after all the tests showed normal results.

Only yesterday during a prayer meeting, I came to believe after hearing from few of the other friends that they have gone through similar experience and this could be just related to anxiety.

Please read through ent/Health%20psychology%20service/Microsof t%20Word%20-%20Breathlessness%20and%20Anxi ety.pdf

I hope it will be a blessing for you as much as it has been for me.

May God Bless!
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replied September 14th, 2009
You couldn't post any closer to exactly what I am feeling. I have had all the test as well and everything comes back fine. Please let me know if you feel better and what helped so I can know what works and how much longer does this last.
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replied September 21st, 2009
They claim that this is a form of OCD and for us wit hit we cant stop "obsessing about it" and we are constantly aware and testing our ability to take a deep breath. The Body knows when to do this and we must make an effort to stop thinkin aboutit, keep busy, relax and know it will go away if we keep busy....

I was told to take Lexapro to help with my mind constantly focusing in on it, I was convinced I had something physical but the other day I had a problem at work and I started obsessing about that, and wouldnt you know it, after about an hour, I realized I was breathing fine then became aware again and its "back"

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replied September 24th, 2009
One important thing to remember is that there are no "classic" anxiety symptoms. Everybody's different and everybody reacts to anxiousness and stress in different ways too. While there are certainly some common symptoms that many people have with anxiety attacks, there's no right or wrong way to have one and there's no one path that it takes.

Anxiety attacks play on the body's fears and the body's intentions. It revs the body up, trying to get things moving so that it can help combat whatever you think you're "afraid of." It's a fight or flight response gone extreme, basically, and the best way out is to stop running and stop fighting. It's hard to do because it's against your very nature, but it's important to remind yourself that your symptoms are healthy and normal when the body is trying to bail itself out of what it perceives as trouble.

You're not crazy, you're not having a heart attack, and you're not dead yet. Remember that anxiety is helpful and that it, in right circumstances, can save your life by moving blood and energy around where it is needed.

Your throat more than likely closes up to give your body more control over oxygen intake, thus delivering the right stuff to the right places as needed. Try to remain calm and don't gulp air (that's why yawning is). Instead, try to breathe slowly through your nose as much as you can and hold that breath for about four or five seconds. Release it slowly. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

Most importantly of all: try to remain calm. You aren't going to die or run out of oxygen or faint. It's part of the body's normal reaction to the stresses it thinks it's enduring. Keep cool and everything will come up aces.
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replied October 18th, 2009
I am breathless daily too....
Alex F... dont give up... I have had the same thing for 4 years now... and finally I am starting to get somewhere... I am not a doctor... but it does sound to me like dust / your allegies are playing their part in your condition... mucus seems to be my problem, but why I am getting it I still do not know. (and I cannot clear it thus I think is reason for my breathlessness). There are good tips on google though, and the gargling salt one seems to help as does showering every day, instead of bath.... One question... has anyone ever noticed a funny noise when they breath in and out... from the diaphram... I thought it was a gurgling tummy, but apparently it is a rubbing of the chest cavity or something like that (similar to when you have a chest infection) I get it on the bottom left of my ribs. It is the first thing my doctor has actually heard that he now knows it is just not all in my mind... it is sooo irritating that people call breathing problems alone, anxiety / stress... I would love to see them experience it.... how many people in life would not get anxious if stuggling to breath! Granted, anxiety caused by the physical problem is not nice, but being stuck on depression medication as a solution to me is not the answer... eg the lungs are a sponge and not a muscle... so yes the anziety medication may help but only because it is relaxing your airways in the same way steroids do etc... if you dont want a lifetime of depression medication then keep pushing for doctors to find out the causes.. eg think of questions to ask him / her... what exactly is causing my breathlessness? eg if anxiety alone, how is that creating the breathless... what exactly does being anxious do in terms of causing your breathlessness... i think anyone with breathlessness as their main symptom, maywell be suffering with anxiety as well.. but it is not the diagnosis... I say dont give up Wink and pray... it is working for me... just taking soooo much time to find out... I have had no time off work with it, and know I will get answers in end, and know it is nothing serious... just a real pain in the *** and embarrassing when you cannot talk properly because you are breathless, and breath in a funny way. Good luck, I wish everyone here could experience that thoughtless clear smooth breathing we once had Smile one day Smile maybe exercise is the key...
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replied November 1st, 2009
sorry to hear youre all suffering too. i satrted with every day shortness of breath about 2 weeks ago and it gets worse when i rush around or if im busy mentally which seems to be most of the time lol. im on thtyroxine and have been told to reduce it for two days each week, am also on homeopathy and i feel easy iron helps too. have also been on anti-depressants for years and am annoyed with what im going through now. im going to try meditation as it has helped me in the past. try every thing you can and dont give in , good luck
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replied December 30th, 2009
ditto ditto to all of you .. this is so horrible had it two months now at my wits end .. been a panic attacker (if there is such a word ) for years now really do stress but ... this feels real feels like i,m dying been imagining all sorts .. cancer lukemia the whole lot am obsessed with it think about it morning noon and night got to do something soon .. had all the tests ecgs xrays blood .. was anemic not now had iron pills and my blood is back up so god only knows , hope we all find the solution soon as i cant take much more .. good luck everyone
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replied January 16th, 2010
i have been the same i am 33 smoked for 18 years just quit 3 weeks ago as this really scared me i feel out of breath about half hour after waking up and it comes and goes all day in bouts to the extent that sometimes i cant even talk...i have had xray ecg..bloods..heart scan all fine doc says it is anxeity but i can accept that i have just demanded a blood test for b12 defiency as this can cause breathlessness if any of you have been told you are a anemic i suggest you get b12 blood test as they are often linked in some cases..god help us all as it is scary and i am at my witts end i am praying my b12 comes back too low next week xx easy solved if that the case
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replied January 24th, 2010
When I had similar anxiety related breathing problems I went to see my Osteopath who really helped me. Yoga / Meditation classes are also a good way of helping you to once again relax and breath deeply.
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replied February 6th, 2010
hey everyone... i dont know what to do anymore. I want a quick fix and feel like vallium would do the trick lol and doctor wont prescribe it because he says its addictive. Sad

i wish i could get my airways back to what they once were. ive been told everything about me is "normal". I even went to pychiatrist recently as gave in and thought, okay its anxiety give me the tablets... then doctor said no... see the phychiatrist because my mum has mental health problems, therefore I might have something underlying - so doesnt want to give me medication if I have something else! I cant win lol... I get breathless, wheezy, airway obstruction, mucus... he says its anxiety is underlying cause, so i say okay... lets try that... then he says oh it might be that is symptom of another underlying cause.

I just wish I could have normal clear airway and a relaxed body then i think everything will be fine. Not sure how I can get that though Sad

Pychiatrist was really nice, the most understanding person I seen, did not judge me, did not make assumptions, just listened and said to her I seem fine, she said I didnt need to see her and would refer me to mild to moderate problems.

All my tests always come back normal! I am miss normal? I dont feel normal when I know my singing voice is rubbish now due to this constriction/wheeze/obstruction whatever is going on there... I been told I have Hyperventilation syndrome (loss of normal breathing pattern) and the exercise I have to do does help with the breathlessness. Physio says she can cure me. (I am just not sure the wheeze/noisy breath mucus thing will go, I think the breathing teqnique is more like a coping thing, although maybe it will work and i just have to be patient.

Just wish I could pop a pill and make it all normal. Something to relax the airways, make my body feel chilled and make my throat/airways feel open clear and light.

Sad does any one have any sugesstions? I really am at a loss Sad
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replied February 6th, 2010
Hey sorry one other thing - "Hyperventilation Syndrom" is my diagnosis... ignore what is on web for it though as I dont have dizzyness or most the other symptoms on web... the reason my physio said I had it is because I use the yawn action to get a big breath into my lungs, and i have a shallow breathing pattern.

The exercise she gave me is breath a deep breath in through the nose (not too deep, but not shallow) and breath our through the mouth count two and repeat... it is working so my breathlessness and throat closing up feeling has gone now.

I am just left with a wheeze which i have had since just after onset of breathing. I really recommend any one with breathing difficulties go and see a physio... needs to be a good one, as the one i saw years ago didnt really help me, maybe because i believed there was more to my problems. the one i been seeing said i am not mentally ill, i am not pysically ill... i have a disrupted breathing pattern, and i just have to retrain it...

it takes hard work and perserverance but i will get there apparently. (i still want a quick fix though like vallium or something but gonna stick with the pysio still.. she really is very good and really understands how I feel!). Classic she says is yawning alot because when you shallow breath, you then take a big gulp to get in the air you not been breathing in.
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replied February 8th, 2010
Breathlessness, Over-breathing: Air-a-holics?
I too. GERD (55 years), IBS, asthma, very slow hear rate ... and the need to breathe deeply all the time. All "vagus nerve" stuff.

Many of you may benefit by breathing techniques to combat compulisve hyperventilation. Your body's "Do I need oxygen?" sensor is apparently done by sensing the carbon dioxide content of the blood (more or less).

Google "Buteyko breathing" and try to find an article or video that's free (there's a youtube video somewhere). This matter will be explained. Most of what you'll see upon searching is fishing for $$$, but there's some free stuff out there. The wikipedia article d

is pretty good. Note particularly the bit about the "controlled pause" between breaths. Really, it's all about trying to lengthen this pause gradually ... thus reducing oxygen intake. Breathe less deeply, from the diaphragm, and pause longer between exhale and inhale. Above all, when that breath is finally drawn, SLOW IT DOWN to the point of "slight discomfort". With perseverence that will become the "norm" for you, as it apparently should be.

It appears to me that we chronic over-breathers get addicted to the rush of that fresh, cool air pouring into our lungs. When very young I used to love to go to a grocery store freezer and inhale repeatedly great volumes of that delicious cold air ... which by the way is denser, and thus does supply more oxygen.

Note in the article about muscle spasms ... cramps ... in fingers, toes, and other extremities. Familiar? I too ... in spades. I suspect yawning too.

Those of us who take in too much oxygen, habitually, apparently leave the body with excess in carbon dioxide. The body apparently will try to circumvent this ... because this is apparently a quite unhealthy state, raising blood acidity [lowering "ph"] ... by closing off airways (asthma, nasal stuffiness), slowing down the heart (thus slowing the oxygen exchange in the lungs), producing excess mucus in the lungs (ditto), etc.

If you can force yourself to live with the initially-uncomfortable state of more carbon dioxide than you are used to, using one of these breathing techniques, for a few minutes, and then an hour or so at a time, gradually you will apparently become accustomed to what is actually the "normal" state, with a more chemically balanced blood, and some of these symptom will decrease.

Note in the chemistry discussion that changing your blood chemistry to "normal" this way takes time (not just minutes)!

Note also that just about any physical or mental problem, or combination of them especially I suspect (got 'em in spades), enhances ones likelihood of suffering from this problem ... from stress if nothing else.

My best help is to "huff" out a breath, like a cough without the cough, and then breathe in SLOWLY, less than you think you need. Put up with the "discomfort" and you may notice lessening of nasal and chest stuffinesss, less anxiety, etc.

You will relapse occasionally ... you're an "airaholic". Keep at it ... and treating your other problems too.

There's nothing new about this either ... has been in various stages of discovery and description for decades.

I also wonder about perhaps a role in smoking as "preventative" in those who smoke. Although smokers take in large breaths, repeatedly, when they inhale a puff of smoke (which would seem to promote this condition), the smoke itself contains lots of (relatively, to ambient air) carbon dioxide. Maybe that's what makes this "okay" in smokers. Perhaps that is even part of the calming effect. Perhaps many smokers are chronic over-breathers. This is just my speculation. I have never read anyone else on this subject.

(Note: unfortunately the smoke also contains considerable carbon monoxide, which depletes the bloods oxygen supply somewhat ... yet that too may "help" over-breathers, I think you see, if you are following this discussion.)

One might even try the old trick of breathing into and out of a paper bag (rebreathing some exhaled carbon dioxide).

Exercise seems to help too ... every day.

Good luck to all.
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