Hard to breathe anxiety

Is My Shortness of Breath from Anxiety?

Anxiety can cause shortness of breath due to changes in heart rate. There are medications, breathing techniques, and mindfulness practices that can help.

Experiencing shortness of breath (dyspnea) or other breathing difficulties can feel scary. But it’s a common symptom of anxiety.

Many people worry that a symptom affecting their breathing must come from a physical issue. In fact, your mental health affects your physical health in a number of ways.

While anxiety can cause shortness of breath and other physical symptoms, it’s important to acknowledge that experiencing shortness of breath for other reasons may also create anxiety.

Here’s what you need to know about this symptom and when to see your doctor.

Anxiety is your body’s natural fear response. This is known as the fight-or-flight response. Your body reacts in physical and mental ways to prepare you to either fight or run from a threatening situation.

Shortness of breath is one of those responses. You may feel like you can’t catch your breath, tightness in your chest, or like you’re suffocating or hungry for air.

Studies have shown a strong association between anxiety and respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath.

Other symptoms that can occur during this response and as a result of anxiety include:

  • faster breathing (hyperventilation)
  • chest tightness
  • breathlessness or a feeling of suffocation
  • feeling like you have a lump in your throat
  • muscle tension
  • heart palpitations (feels like a stronger, faster heartbeat)
  • feeling faint, dizzy, or unsteady
  • nausea or stomach discomfort
  • restlessness, irritability, or feeling on edge

Shortness of breath and other physical symptoms happen in the fight-or-flight response to protect you. With anxiety, you may not be running for your life. But your body still responds as if you are.

You experience chest tightening, shortness of breath, and faster breathing because your body is trying to get more oxygen to your muscles, preparing you to run. Your heart rate increases and you may feel hot as more blood pumps into your muscles, preparing you to fight.

All of these symptoms are normal body responses designed to save your life.

Of course, you probably aren’t often running or fighting for your life — from wild bear attacks or men with chain saws. But your body still reacts to your trip to the crowded grocery store, your work presentation, and other anxiety-provoking events as if you were.

When you’re experiencing shortness of breath from an anxiety attack, it may seem counterintuitive that your breathing is what you should focus on.

But by focusing on your breathing, you can get it under control and the right amount of oxygen into your lungs.

Experts recommend practicing diaphragmatic breathing. This is a type of breathing technique that uses your diaphragm — the most efficient breathing muscle we have.

When you’re experiencing shortness of breath, you’re generally breathing from your mouth or chest. But diaphragmatic breathing can:

  • slow your breathing rate
  • decrease your demand for oxygen
  • use less effort and energy to breathe

Here’s how to practice diaphragmatic breathing:

  1. Sit up comfortably in a chair or lie back on a flat surface, like your bed, with your head supported.
  2. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other below your rib cage. This will allow you to better feel your diaphragm as you breathe.
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose so your stomach moves out against your hand.
  4. Tighten your stomach muscles. Let them fall inward as you exhale through your nose or your mouth (depending on what’s easier for you).
  5. Continue to take deep breaths in and out, feeling your stomach rise in and out. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes a day.

Tips: You’re less likely to experience shortness of breath or hyperventilation while breathing in and out through your nose. It’s also normal to get tired or feel like it’s a lot of effort when you first begin this breathing practice. With more practice, this breathing technique will become automatic and easy.

“The more you can slow down the physical sensations during periods of high anxiety, the more you can use your rational mind to assess what is going on.”

  • Elke Zuercher-White in “An End to Panic”

You can also try these anxiety-relieving techniques:

  • Grounding techniques. One type of grounding technique (progressive muscle relaxation) involves clenching muscles and slowly releasing them. Focus entirely on these sensations.
  • Mindful distractions. Find something to distract your mind from panicking to help you calm down. Try describing things around you to keep your focus on something else. What color is your couch? What is its texture?
  • Talk with yourself. Now that you know these symptoms are a part of your body’s automatic response, remind yourself of this. In the moment of panic or anxiety, tell yourself “I can’t breathe because my body is trying to get more oxygen” or “I’ve been evaluated and my heart is fine. ” Talking with yourself rationally can pull you out of the anxiety.
  • Exercise. It may seem strange to exercise in the midst of an anxiety attack, but going for a quick run or expending some of that built-up energy may actually work for you. Your body is preparing itself to run anyway — you might as well take advantage of it.
  • Self-care. You can practice self-care in simple ways. Drink herbal tea (but avoid caffeinated tea, as it can increase anxiety). Light candles with a pleasant aroma. Write down your feelings. Turn on some soothing music.
  • Shock yourself. Shocking your system by dipping your face in a bowl of ice water is actually a technique recommended by therapists to help pull you out of a thought spiral.

If you notice shortness of breath before experiencing a full-blown panic attack, learn to recognize it and don’t ignore it. Start focusing on your breathing before the anxiety escalates.

For long-term strategies, consider seeing a mental health professional. They can evaluate your needs and help teach you coping mechanisms that’ll work for you.

Practicing your breathing daily, other forms of mindfulness, and taking up relaxing yoga may also help.

The main way to prevent shortness of breath and other physical symptoms of anxiety is to practice techniques and learn your triggers when you’re not experiencing them.

You don’t prepare for an earthquake during an earthquake; you prepare beforehand. Anxiety is the same.

One of the most helpful preventive techniques is to maintain a thought log. In a thought log, you write down the automatic thoughts you had in your last moment of anxiety or panic. It’s helpful for discovering triggers as well as helping you reflect on your anxiety in a calmer state.

You can also write down what sensations you’re experiencing while you’re experiencing them. This can help your doctor understand what’s going on.

There are several types of thought logs. Check out this one focusing on dysfunctional thinking or a general anxiety tracker. You can even make your own by recording:

  • the date
  • the specific trigger (the situation or physical symptom, such as shortness of breath)
  • the automatic thought (what you think will happen due to this physical symptom or situation)
  • how strongly you believe this thought (1 to 100 percent)

If you’re experiencing shortness of breath, your automatic thought may be that you must have a serious health condition. At the moment, you may have believed it — almost 100 percent.

However, after challenging this thought now in your recording, you only believe it 20 percent. Recording, reviewing, and challenging these thoughts is an essential way to prevent future anxiety.

You can also use an app to track your anxiety.

Practicing regular meditation may also help you reduce your anxiety. Numerous studies have shown that meditation can reduce anxiety symptoms and help treat anxiety.

You can also practice mindfulness in everyday activities to help you become more aware of your body and what makes you anxious. Try a mindful eating exercise or a mindful walk around the block.

Finally, consider working with a mental health professional to come up with more strategies. They can help you work out negative thought processes that occur when you’re experiencing anxiety, especially if this anxiety is severe or causing you great distress.

Various forms of psychotherapy may be recommended to ease anxiety and reduce symptoms like shortness of breath, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

Certain medications may also be beneficial, including:

  • Antidepressants. These medications affect levels of certain neurotransmitters to treat anxiety and depression. They are often used as a long-term solution, as it may take several weeks before you notice any benefits.
  • Benzodiazepines. This class of medication includes drugs like Xanax and Valium, which act as a sedative to calm you down when you’re feeling anxious. However, they are only recommended for short-term use, as they can also cause side effects like drowsiness.
  • Beta-blockers. Though typically used to treat high blood pressure, beta-blockers like propranolol can also reduce short-term physical symptoms of anxiety.
  • Buspirone. This medication is sometimes used to treat anxiety when antidepressants don’t work. Though buspirone is as effective as benzodiazepines and is associated with fewer risks and side effects, it may take 2–4 weeks to take effect.

Shortness of breath and other symptoms of anxiety can mimic other conditions. So, it’s a good idea to monitor your symptoms and get a checkup with your doctor to rule out any other conditions.

Getting a physical to ensure you don’t have any other issues can also alleviate some of your anxiety. For instance, in a panic attack, many people believe they’re having a heart attack. This fear only increases their panic.

Other causes of shortness of breath include:

  • exercise
  • altitude changes
  • tight clothing
  • a sedentary lifestyle

Other conditions where you may experience shortness of breath include:

  • asthma
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • heart failure or heart attack
  • pneumonia
  • low blood pressure
  • upper airway obstruction

If you experience shortness of breath consistently, or when unconnected to anxiety, see your doctor.

Seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a heart attack, including:

  • tightness or pain in the chest, neck, jaw, back, or arms
  • fatigue
  • lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting
  • discomfort in your arm or shoulder
  • sweating more than usual without a logical reason

When is shortness of breath serious?

If shortness of breath is accompanied by other symptoms like pain or discomfort, tightness in the chest, lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

You should also talk with a doctor if you have experienced shortness of breath for over 1 month or if other symptoms like persistent coughing or swollen ankles are present, as it could be a sign of a more serious condition.

Is my shortness of breath an anxiety attack or Coronavirus?

Shortness of breath caused by an anxiety attack typically peaks within a few minutes and may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, heart palpitations, and sweating.

On the other hand, shortness of breath caused by COVID-19 lasts for a longer period of time and may be tied to additional symptoms, including fever, dry cough, chills, muscle pain, and a sore throat.

Why do I have shortness of breath and anxiety at night?

Many people experience panic or anxiety attacks at night, which can cause shortness of breath and may occur without any obvious triggers. Similar to daytime anxiety attacks, there’s no known cause, but a variety of factors could contribute, including stress and genetics.

It’s important to remember that anxiety attacks can’t kill you. You won’t suffocate, won’t stop breathing, and won’t die from an anxiety attack. An anxiety or panic attack won’t turn into a heart attack, either.

If you’re worried about your physical health, get checked out. Once you’ve been cleared of any physical reasons for your shortness of breath, hold onto that clean bill of health as a reminder when you’re back in an anxious moment.

See a mental health professional for further help and assistance with coping techniques.

Anxiety and shortness of breath: Causes, symptoms, and treatments

The triggers and symptoms of anxiety vary widely from person to person, but many people experience shortness of breath when they feel anxious.

Shortness of breath is a common symptom of anxiety. As with other anxiety symptoms, it can be concerning, but it is ultimately harmless. It will go away when the anxiety lifts.

Feeling short of breath can make a person feel more anxious. They may suspect that they are having a breathing or heart problem, when in reality, they are noticing a symptom of anxiety.

In this article, we explore the link between anxiety and shortness of breath, which doctors call dyspnea. We also look at other possible causes of shortness of breath.

When a person feels anxious, they tend to feel restless, wound-up, irritable, and unable to concentrate. In some cases, anxiety is linked with panic-like symptoms, which can include:

  • shortness of breath or rapid breathing
  • increased heart rate
  • sweating
  • chest pain
  • feelings of impending doom

Anxiety and panic have associations with fear. They can lead to behavioral and physiological changes that prepare the person to defend themselves against a threat.

The brain is wired to react to fearful situations with a fight or flight response. The heart rate increases to pump blood to the organs faster, which readies the muscles for action.

It also causes a person to breathe more quickly to provide more oxygen to the muscles. The result can be shortness of breath.

When a person comes to a doctor with this symptom, they first rule out physical causes, such as breathing problems or heart problems.

Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but for some people, anxiety significantly gets in the way of daily life.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affects 3.1% of people in the United States in any given year. It is more common in females than males.

People who experience frequent panic attacks may have panic disorder. An estimated 2–3% of people in the U.S. experience panic disorder each year, and it is twice as prevalent in females.

If anxiety or panic is the cause, the doctor may recommend some relaxation methods or breathing techniques.

In some cases, a doctor may recommend medication or therapy to help manage the symptoms.

When a person is experiencing anxiety, it can be difficult to tell whether the anxiety or another health issue is responsible for the symptoms. This can be especially challenging when the symptoms are severe.

Shortness of breath is one symptom that people with anxiety may experience, but not everyone with anxiety has difficulty breathing.

Anxiety can cause a range of physical and psychological symptoms. These include:

  • dry mouth
  • increased heart rate
  • dizziness
  • sweating
  • chills
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • shaking
  • muscle tension
  • rapid breathing
  • chest pain
  • a choking sensation
  • a fear of losing control
  • agitation — feeling jittery or frustrated
  • frightening thoughts, mental images, or memories
  • poor concentration
  • confusion
  • poor memory
  • difficulty speaking

Doctors diagnose GAD using criteria from the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Shortness of breath is not one of these criteria, but it can occur with GAD.

People with panic disorder or panic attacks may experience shortness of breath, as well. It is a symptom that doctors use to diagnose panic disorder.

Panic attacks bring on extreme anxiety symptoms, such as a feeling of doom or a fear of dying. Other symptoms can feel similar to those of a heart attack.

How does a panic attack feel different from a heart attack? Find out here.

Anyone who suspects that they have anxiety or panic disorder may want to consult a healthcare professional for a diagnosis and treatment.

If a person experiences shortness of breath, there may not be a clear reason, which can cause or worsen anxiety and make breathing more difficult.

To determine the cause of shortness of breath, doctors need to rule out physical causes, such as asthma, lung problems, or heart problems.

Learn about other causes of shortness of breath.

Doctors can offer various treatments for anxiety, such as psychotherapy, medications, or a combination.


For short-term relief of anxiety symptoms, including shortness of breath, doctors may prescribe benzodiazepine medications. These include:

  • alprazolam (Xanax)
  • clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • diazepam (Valium)
  • lorazepam (Ativan)

These may provide some relief from anxiety symptoms quickly, within about 30 minutes.

However, benzodiazepines can have adverse effects. In 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strengthened their warning about benzodiazepines. Using these drugs can lead to physical dependence, and withdrawal can be life threatening. Combining them with alcohol, opioids, and other substances can result in death. It is essential to follow the doctor’s instructions when using these drugs.

More frequently, doctors prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly called SSRIs or antidepressants, for symptoms of anxiety.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be beneficial for many people with anxiety. It aims to help people modify how they think and behave in certain situations, such as those that trigger anxiety.

A person who has CBT may learn that their anxiety is based on false alarms of fear, and the therapy may train them to cope with conditions that cause anxiety instead of avoiding them.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is also an effective treatment for anxiety. It focuses on the role of personal and relationship conflicts associated with symptoms of anxiety.

This form of therapy harnesses the patient-therapist relationship to help encourage personal reflection, acceptance of difficult feelings, and engagement in new behaviors.

Relaxation methods

For immediate relief of shortness of breath due to anxiety, people might try diaphragmatic breathing.

Some doctors recommend it to help reduce anxiety, and some people who practice it report that it helps provide emotional balance.

This breathing technique involves contracting the diaphragm, expanding the belly, and deepening inhalation and exhalation.

A study from 2017 demonstrated that 20 sessions of diaphragmatic breathing improved stress and decreased negative emotions in participants. However, none had a diagnosis of anxiety.

Diaphragmatic breathing also plays a role in meditation, some religions, and martial arts, and it is a core component of yoga and tai chi.

Other techniques that may help relieve anxiety and ease breathing include:

  • box breathing
  • guided imagery
  • progressive muscle relaxation

Anyone who may have anxiety or a panic disorder may benefit from discussing their symptoms and treatment options with a doctor.

If breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques do not reestablish regular breathing patterns, the person may need medical attention.

If shortness of breath is frequent or long-lasting, it may stem from another medical condition, such as:

  • asthma
  • obesity
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD
  • interstitial lung disease
  • heart problems

When people experience shortness of breath because of anxiety or panic, it can make them feel more anxious, which can worsen their breathing.

Doctors often recommend relaxation techniques and diaphragmatic breathing to help relieve this anxiety symptom and others.

Some people also benefit from temporarily using medications to control anxiety symptoms. Chronic anxiety and panic may require a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

reasons for the deterioration of the quality of breathing and ways to improve it

  1. Reasons for the deterioration of the quality of breathing
  2. How respiratory rate is measured
  3. Hyperventilation
  4. What to do if it is difficult to breathe

Image by yanalya on Freepik

The lungs "breathe" an average of 300 million liters of air in a lifetime. Every day, a person consumes approximately 12,000 liters of air, which consists of oxygen (21%), nitrogen (78%) and a small amount of carbon dioxide, as well as other impurities. This means that every day the body consumes 2500 liters of oxygen. At rest, the number of breaths is 12-16 times per minute. This figure increases with physical activity up to 40-50 times. nine0013

The number of breaths per minute varies, among other things, depending on age:

  • premature babies - approximately 50-60 breaths per minute.
  • newborns - 30–50 breaths per minute.
  • infants - 20-40 breaths per minute.
  • children (from 6 years old) - 18-24 breaths per minute.
  • adults - 12-16 breaths per minute.

From the age of 30, normal respiratory rates remain largely constant. nine0013

During normal breathing, about 0.5 liters of air is inhaled / exhaled per breath. The respiratory rate differs between women and men due to anatomical factors. Differences arise, on the one hand, due to the volume of the chest: the average volume of the female chest is 4 liters, the male - an average of 5 liters.

On the other hand, there is a difference in the type of breathing. Whereas chest breathing predominates in women at rest, abdominal breathing in men. In addition, the respiratory tract in women is smaller than in men (nasal cavity, windpipe, bronchi). The average lung volume also varies: in women it is about 4.5 to 5 liters (1.6% of total body weight), and in men it is about 6.5 to 7 liters (1.8% of total body weight) . nine0013

In addition, there is a relationship between the state of the psyche and breathing. When a person is afraid, the amygdala in the brain sends an alarm signal to the respiratory center, after which breathing becomes shallow and rapid. In turn, changes in breathing up to felt shortness of breath increase the feeling of fear, forming a vicious circle.

Distinguish between external and internal breathing. The purpose of external respiration is to supply the cells of the body with oxygen and release carbon dioxide. External respiration consists of active inhalation and passive exhalation. nine0013

The inhaled air, rich in oxygen, passes through the mouth, nose and throat into the windpipe, in the process it warms up, humidifies and cleanses. The air then enters the bronchi, bronchioles, and finally the alveoli, which are surrounded by a network of very thin blood vessels (capillaries). Here gas exchange occurs through the alveolocapillary membrane by means of diffusion.

Internal respiration or cellular respiration provides oxygen-dependent metabolic processes in the cells of the body. As a source of energy, cells consume glucose, which is completely broken down in the plasma of cells and mitochondria into carbon dioxide and water. It is necessary for all metabolic processes in the body. Cellular respiration includes glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, and the respiratory chain. nine0013

Causes of deterioration in the quality of breathing

Respiratory rate can be affected by various factors. In addition to pathological causes, physiological and psychological causes, as well as changed environmental conditions, play an important role:

  • Empty nose syndrome - occurs against the background of a surgical operation. A person experiences suffocation attacks, because he does not feel the flow of air when inhaling.
  • Being overweight causes dyspnoea. nine0004
  • Wrong food - a lot of sugar, refined impurities and chemical additives in the diet thicken the blood, making it difficult to deliver oxygen to the internal organs.
  • Foreign object in the throat. The release of the respiratory tract is carried out according to the Heimlich method (except for pregnant women and infants).
  • Pregnancy. In the later stages, from about 34 weeks, the child squeezes the diaphragm, reducing the flow of incoming air.
  • Panic attack (palpitations, sweating, chills and trembling, fear, dizziness). nine0004
  • Irritation of mucous membranes by chemicals - chemical or thermal burns.
  • Laryngeal papillomatosis is an overgrowth of the mucous membrane provoked by the human papillomavirus.
  • Pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary thromboembolism, asthma.
  • Severe allergy causing complex immune reactions and swelling of the subcutaneous tissue (Quincke's edema, anaphylactic shock).
  • Diseases of the heart. nine0004

How the respiratory rate is measured

Spirometry is an examination of the functional state of the lungs by measuring their volume. During the examination, the patient breathes into the so-called "spirometer" through the mouthpiece. The nose is closed with a clip. The spirometer measures the volume of air inhaled and exhaled, as well as the rate at which the process occurs. Although this method is very accurate and can be used to measure multiple respiratory parameters simultaneously, it affects the patient's natural breathing and is not suitable for continuous measurement of respiratory rate. nine0013

Capnometry - measurement of the amount of carbon dioxide on exhalation and respiratory rate. The method is often used for anesthesia or to monitor patients on mechanical ventilation. The measurement results are highly accurate. The method is suitable for continuous measurement of respiratory rate.

An ECG (electrocardiogram) measures the electrical activity of the heart using electrodes attached to the skin. Respiratory rate can also be determined using ECG electrodes - impedance pneumography. On inhalation / exhalation, the volume of the chest increases / decreases. As volume increases, the resistance of the chest (impedance) to AC increases; as the volume decreases, it decreases. These impedance changes can be measured using two electrodes attached to the chest. The oscillations registered in this way are displayed on the monitor in the form of an impedance pneumogram (“breathing curve”). This way you can determine the frequency of breathing. The disadvantage of this method is that the signal is very sensitive to the slightest influence. nine0013

Photoplethysmography determines the pulse rate and oxygen saturation (SpO2). Respiration rate can also be extracted from the recorded signal and algorithms. The sensor is equipped with one green LED, or two - red and infrared. The light is alternately radiated to tissue (eg skin of the wrist or ear canal). The photodiode receives light that is reflected or not absorbed by the tissue and converts the data into electrical current. The current is converted into electrical voltage by a transimpedance amplifier (TIA), which in turn can be digitized. nine0013


The condition occurs during a stressful situation, nervous excitement. A person cannot breathe normally, as if something is squeezing the chest. Reflexively, he tries to breathe even deeper and faster until he passes out. This reaction is called hyperventilation syndrome, about 5-10% of adults suffer from this psychogenic disorder. Most often - young people 20-30 years old.

The syndrome can be acute or chronic. Unlike the acute syndrome, which the doctor determines with the help of a detailed survey of the patient, the chronic one is diffuse and mild in nature, since the body has already managed to adapt to the changed conditions. nine0013

People with hyperventilation are recommended cognitive-behavioral therapy, which will teach them to control the body at the time of stress.

What to do if it's hard to breathe

A person experiencing an asthma attack is in a panic and cannot cope with the situation on his own. You need help to perform a number of relaxing actions:

  • Cup your palms and breathe in them for 5-10 minutes. This method will expand the vessels due to an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide. nine0004
  • Inhale slowly and count up to 6, while exhaling up to 8. Say the numbers out loud.
  • Stick out your tongue as much as possible and take 3-4 quick breaths.

What are the symptoms to call an ambulance?

  • Lethargy and loss of consciousness.
  • Paralyzing cough when the person loses the ability to change posture.
  • Foam and blood from the mouth.
  • Cyanosis (cyanosis) of the skin. nine0004
  • Chest pain.
  • Colic in the abdomen.
  • Redness and swelling of the joints.
  • Swelling of lips, eyelids, forehead.

When there is not enough air: causes of shortness of breath

Almost everyone knows the feeling of lack of air when running or climbing stairs.

But there are cases when shortness of breath occurs when walking only a few tens of meters or even at rest. If in such situations it became difficult to breathe, then the matter is serious. nine0013

Breathing is a natural process, so we do not notice it. But we immediately feel if something is wrong with our breathing. Especially when, for no apparent reason, we begin to suffocate. The brain receives the appropriate signal, and our breathing quickens, and this process cannot be controlled by consciousness. Its frequency and rhythm, the duration of inhalation or exhalation have changed - in a word, you feel that you are obviously breathing somehow wrong. This is wheezing.

Types of dyspnea and treatments

In most cases, shortness of breath is associated with hypoxia - low oxygen in the body or hypoxemia - low oxygen in the blood. Which causes irritation of the respiratory center in the brain. The result - a feeling of lack of air, involuntarily rapid breathing.

Conditionally distinguish 3 types of dyspnea

  • inspiratory dyspnea (difficulty inhaling) - more characteristic of heart disease
  • expiratory dyspnea (difficulty exhaling) - most often occurs in bronchial asthma due to spasms
  • mixed shortness of breath (when both inhalation and exhalation are difficult) - characteristic of a wide variety of diseases

The most important method of dealing with shortness of breath is the treatment of the disease that caused it. As soon as the specialist finds out the cause, an effective treatment plan will be determined. For example, in coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction, treatment with tablets is often used. With bronchial asthma - regular treatment with inhalers. Since the main cause of shortness of breath in many cases is low oxygen in the body, one of the ways to reduce shortness of breath is oxygen therapy. nine0013

Causes and treatments

To determine the cause of shortness of breath, it is important to know how quickly it started. It can occur acutely - within minutes, hours, several days, or gradually - over several weeks, months or years. Let's look at the main reasons.

  • Poor physical condition

In principle, in this case, shortness of breath is more of a normal phenomenon than a cause for serious concern.

Physiological shortness of breath occurs after climbing stairs or catching a bus. The muscles involved in the work remove oxygen from the blood. The brain tries to cover the resulting oxygen deficiency, that is, it makes us breathe more often. Such shortness of breath is not dangerous in itself, but if you are out of breath even after climbing a couple of floors, it's time to think about your physical condition. In physically active and trained people, shortness of breath occurs less frequently. nine0013

What can be done to get rid of such shortness of breath? We need regular aerobic exercise, which leads to an increase in the respiratory rate and heartbeat. If you don’t have time for the gym, brisk walks are also suitable. Go down and up the stairs within 3-4 floors.

  • Panic attack

As you know, strong excitement, anxiety, anger and fear stimulate the production of adrenaline. Once in the blood, adrenaline causes the body to pass a lot of air through the lungs, provoking hyperventilation. Therefore, with serious experiences, the heart rate increases and shortness of breath appears. nine0039 What to do? Shortness of breath caused by such strong emotions is, in principle, safe for health. However, for severe panic attacks (and not just shortness of breath from excitement), it is better to see a doctor. Severe shortness of breath during panic may indicate a disease - for example, vegetovascular dystonia (VVD).

  • Anemia or anemia

The most common is iron deficiency anemia. Iron ions saturate the blood with oxygen, play an important role in the processes of hematopoiesis. With their shortage, hypoxia develops and an emergency protective mechanism is activated - shortness of breath. nine0039 This condition is more typical for women, although men often have a lack of iron in the body. The presence of anemia is diagnosed on the basis of data from a clinical blood test.
What to do to get rid of anemia and at the same time shortness of breath? With a significant decrease in the level of hemoglobin, the doctor prescribes treatment with iron-containing drugs. They need to be taken for at least two months and monitor proper nutrition. Iron is well absorbed from the liver and red meat, but from plant foods, such as buckwheat or pomegranates, which are considered a panacea for anemia, it is rather bad. In order for the iron contained in the preparation or food to be better absorbed, vitamin C is also prescribed. nine0013

  • Obesity

This is no longer just insufficient fitness, but a serious disease that requires a lot of effort from a person to improve his health. At the same time, the danger is not external fat on the hips or buttocks, but internal, since obesity is not just a cosmetic defect.
A layer of fat envelops the lungs and heart, preventing a person from breathing normally. In addition, in obese people, the heart endures increased stress, as it needs to pump blood into a large fat pad. Therefore, less oxygen is supplied to important organs. nine0039 There is only one solution to the problem - to get rid of fat under the supervision of a doctor. You can not start with enhanced training in the gym - there is a high probability of losing consciousness.

  • Lung diseases

Shortness of breath that occurs with diseases of the respiratory organs, there are two types. Inspiratory - when there is difficulty in inhaling as a result of clogging of the bronchi with mucus or with lung tumors, and expiratory - there is difficulty in exhaling as a result of spasms that occur with bronchial asthma. nine0039 To determine the causes of pulmonary dyspnea, it will be necessary to conduct an examination and treatment under the supervision of a specialist.

  • Ischemic heart disease

In this case, shortness of breath is manifested by a feeling of lack of air. In general, shortness of breath is as typical a sign of coronary heart disease as are compressive pains in the left side of the chest.
What to do? If you experience shortness of breath and severe chest pain for the first time, immediately call an ambulance. In men, especially young men, coronary heart disease sometimes manifests itself for the first time with myocardial infarction. When providing first aid, the scope of research is usually limited to the cardiogram, and after that the decision regarding the examination and treatment is made by the cardiologist. nine0013

  • Congestive heart failure

It is quite difficult to catch early signs of this disease - this is usually done with the help of special examinations.
In congestive heart failure, shortness of breath is always accompanied by a forced position of the patient. It occurs in a person lying on a low pillow and resolves when the patient assumes a sitting position. For example, US President Roosevelt slept in a sitting position in a chair just for this reason. Such shortness of breath occurs due to increased blood flow to the heart in the supine position and overflow of the heart chambers. nine0039 Treating shortness of breath in heart failure is not an easy task, but experienced cardiologists and modern drugs sometimes work wonders.

  • Cardiac asthma or paroxysmal dyspnea

Such a sharply occurring shortness of breath, developing into suffocation, often appears at night. Shortness of breath does not go away either in a sitting or standing position. The person becomes pale, moist rales appear in the chest, the lungs begin to swell. This condition threatens the life of the patient, so you should immediately call an ambulance. nine0039 Usually, prompt treatment is effective and eliminates an attack of cardiac asthma. In this case, the patient will need to regularly visit a cardiologist, since only competent treatment of cardiovascular diseases will maintain health in a normal state.

  • Pulmonary embolism

Almost the most common cause of shortness of breath is deep vein thrombophlebitis. At the same time, a person does not always have varicose veins on the surface of the skin, which would give a call to see a doctor. The insidiousness of deep vein thrombophlebitis is that the first episode proceeds quite easily - the leg swells slightly, pains and cramps appear in the calf muscle - the sensations are just like a sprain, and they do not push for examination by a doctor.

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