Why Shortness of Breath Is Common in the Sick
by Dr Artour Rakhimov (www.NormalBreathing.com)
Shortness of breath is a common complaint in people with various chronic health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, HIV-AIDS, cystic fibrosis, asthma, emphysema, cancer, other lung pathologies, and many others. People with these conditions become short of breath due to anxiety, on exertion and after meals or eating. Shortness of breath often becomes more prominent during night sleep or after transition into the horizontal position.
This symptom is particularly debilitating during last stages of cancer, HIV-AIDS, and cystic fibrosis.Among medical drugs, opioids provide some relief to dying patients.
Patients usually complain about breathlessness ("short of breath") and difficult or labored breathing, together with their unpleasant awareness of one's own breathing. Why is shortness of breath is common for these seemingly different health problems?
All these pathologies are based on chronic hyperventilation. Tens of medical studies have confirmed that usual breathing rates for all these and many other chronic health problems is about 2-3 times more than the medical norm. Since hyperventilation or overbreathing causes devastating effects on oxygen transport (less oxygen is provided to cells), the main cause of breathlessness is chronic hyperventilation.Here is a chart that explains the effects of hyperventilation on the respiratory, cardiovascular and muscular systems.
Mechanism of Shortness of Breath
Hyperventilation leads to tissue hypoxia (or low cell oxygen levels) since overbreathing cannot improve blood oxygenation, but leads to CO2 losses. As a result, heavy breathing at rest means low oxygen levels in cells. Furthermore, low CO2 constricts airways making air flow difficult. It also causes low level of oxygen in the diaphragm and other breathing muscles.
Try to imagine the picture: sick people breathe 2-3 times more air, have constricted airways, and weakened breathing muscles. It is logical that their perception of breathing is greatly amplified due to all these effects. Hence, they should complain about their heavy breathing.
Anxiety, stress, overeating, overeating (or too large meals), and exertion all lead to
further hyperventilation (breathing even more) and alveolar hypocapnia making these people even more short of
breath. Oral breathing worsens their breathlessness due to reduction in
absorption of NO (nitric oxide) absorption and reduced alveolar and arterial CO2. Chest breathing significantly reduces oxygenation of the arterial blood since lower parts of the lungs should transport about 7 times more oxygen due to their better perfusion. Hence, diaphragmatic breathing is necessary to reverse low body oxygen level.
Treatment of shortness of breath should be based on elimination of the main cause: their heavy breathing. People with chronic diseases need to learn special techniques to develop diaphragmatic nose breathing 24/7. There are free internet manuals "How to maintain nasal breathing 24/7", "Learn diaphragmatic breathing 24/7", "Mouth taping technique", "How to prevent sleeping on one's back", and many others.
Resources from NormalBreathing.com
NormalBreathing.com has hundreds of quotes, medical references, graphs, charts, tables, results of clinical trials, analysis of numerous respiratory techniques, free breathing exercises, manuals, techniques, lifestyle modules and other resources for better body and brain oxygen content and health.
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