Difficulty Breathing and What to Do About It
In our last blog post, we discussed what causes shortness of breath. Just as many people struggle with shortness of breath in different ways, there are different ways to help alleviate or resolve the problem.
Shortness of Breath Due to Obesity
If your difficulty breathing comes from being overweight or obese there are a couple ways to breathe a little easier.
1. Drop the Extra Weight
It seems like a given, but this is crucial to your overall health. Being obese increases your risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and more.
Losing weight and reducing the pressure on your chest and lungs when you lay down or go up the stairs will help more air be able to enter your lungs.
Walking each day and changing diet habits will help you lose weight. Talk to your doctor about the best plan to lose weight and they can help guide you to the right nutrition goals.
2. Different Lying Positions
If lying down causes discomfort, try to lay on your back with 2 pillows under your head to keep it elevated and 2 pillows under your knees so that they are slightly bent. You can also sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs.
Having your head elevated will help open up your chest and keep you on your back. Though it may feel uncomfortable at first, try it for a week or two to see if it helps you sleep better at night without breathing problems.
Shortness of Breath Due to Smoking
If you are a smoker and find it hard to breathe, try the sleeping position mentioned above. It may help you get more air into your lungs than lying on your side.
The other solution is to quit smoking. Like obesity, smoking raises your chances of heart problems, lung cancer, mouth cancer, and many more unwanted health risks. Exercising and getting fresh air can help you feel better. Tasting clean, pure air could be a little of what you need to want to quit.
Your doctor will know the best road to take to help you kick the habit. Quitting smoking will be the best decision you can make and committing to it.
Shortness of Breath Due to Anxiety or Stress
Some people experience more panic attacks than others. Some may not experience panic attacks at all, just difficulty breathing in stressful or anxious situations.
It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase “Just breathe” when someone is getting frustrated or panicked. It’s simple, but true advice despite sounding contradictory to feeling like you aren’t able to breathe in the moment.
Learning to take big, deep breaths from your abdomen instead of from your chest will actually allow you to breathe in more oxygen and calm the rest of your body. By slowing our breathing, we slow our heart rate.
Yoga and meditation classes are not only about flexibility, but breathing patterns that help relax you and feel elevated from stress and anxiety. Taking these classes can help you unwind or start the day on a fresh, clear-minded note.
If you feel like you have difficulty breathing and cannot relate to these causes and do not have asthma, visit your doctor to explain when it happens.
Heart failure is a silent reason people have shortness of breath. Because your heart doesn’t actually stop, but pumps more slowly, you may not know that it’s the reason for your breathing problem.
Running tests and knowing your medical history will allow your doctor to take action and find a treatment to help you.