We breathe continuously throughout our lives. Breathing is a basic process, and disruptions in it can be dangerous. We asked a professional otolaryngologist and neurologist why it is sometimes difficult to breathe and if anything can be done about it.
People often complain about difficulty breathing. The causes of respiratory organ disorders can be functional and organic. Functional disorders are dynamic: breathing can worsen for a period of time under certain circumstances and then recover to normal. Organic disorders usually do not have a positive dynamic and over time only increase and exacerbate.
Diseases with difficulty breathing
Pathology of the cardiovascular system (lower respiratory tract suffers due to blood stagnation), pulmonary problems (chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, inflammation of the lungs, including during coronavirus infection), neurological and endocrine dysfunction – diseases that lead to difficulty breathing.
The “empty nose” syndrome is a rare but also possible cause of difficulty breathing. It is a physically and emotionally difficult condition that occurs as a complication after surgery. The person does not feel the inhalation and experiences suffocation.
The cause of difficulty breathing may be the blockage of the airways for the following reasons:
- swelling of the mucous membrane (increased blood flow in the capillaries, the exit of fluid and mucus);
- mechanical blockage of the airflow by a foreign object (for example, a accidentally swallowed bone);
- polypoid growths in the nasal cavity;
- various tumors growing in the airways.
What to do if it is hard to breathe
If the condition came on suddenly, try to calm down. Control your inhalation and exhalation until it becomes easier. Go outside for fresh air. If it gets worse, call for medical help.
If you regularly experience difficulty breathing, you need to undergo a comprehensive examination by a therapist. The doctor will help identify the real cause of the problem.
Breathing is the most important vegetative (life-sustaining) function of our body. Other vegetative functions, such as heartbeat and thermoregulation, occur automatically without our participation. On the other hand, breathing can be partially controlled – it can be voluntarily stopped, its frequency and depth can be changed, and its rhythm can be altered.
Due to fear, emotional tension, anxiety, agitation, and deep resentment, the depth and frequency of breathing are impaired. The respiratory muscles become tense, and there is a long-term spasm of these muscles. The diaphragm muscle suffers the most.
Violation of breathing can lead to oxygen starvation of the brain, organs, and tissues, which leads to a decrease in their functional activity. This can be expressed in the form of dizziness, weakness, fatigue, irritability, and decreased efficiency. In the case of respiratory disorders, it is necessary to immediately consult a doctor and undergo a comprehensive examination.
With neuroses, the hyperventilation syndrome often appears. It can manifest itself with such symptoms:
- a feeling of constant lack of air;
- a feeling that you do not always control your breathing;
- strange coughing;
- pre-fainting states.
If you have these symptoms, you should see a neurologist or psychotherapist for help. The doctor will explain the cause of the weakness and tell you how to calm down in each specific case.
A symptom such as difficulty breathing should not be ignored. Breathing problems can occur for various reasons – from stress to serious illnesses. Do not postpone a visit to the doctor if you have difficulty breathing on a regular basis.