Have you ever experienced wheezing, shortness of breath or simply difficulty breathing? Then you have probably also wondered where these breathing problems come from and how to be better prepared for them next time. In this article we will explain the most important things about shortness of breath.
What exactly happens when you suffer from breathlessness?
In the case of shortness of breath, the affected person has great difficulty breathing. This often manifests itself as shortness of breath or wheezing for breath. In medicine, shortness of breath is called dyspnoea. If the breathing difficulties are even worse, it is also called orthopnoea.
Dyspnoea occurs when you can suddenly barely breathe in calm situations. So it does not necessarily have to lead to excessive stress on the body and shortness of breath. It is often much more difficult to breathe after excessive exertion in sport. But this is not necessarily dyspnoea.
It is clear that dyspnoea is a serious matter. For example, if you experience shortness of breath at night or shortness of breath at low power, you should see a doctor. Ignoring breathing problems and waiting for them to pass can be very dangerous.
How does shortness of breath happen?
For example, dyspnoea often occurs in conjunction with heart failure or a heart attack. Dyspnoea is one of the most common symptoms of these heart problems. This is because a heart attack, for example, means that the oxygen supply through the blood is not optimal.
Nevertheless, dyspnoea does not necessarily only appear in the case of physical problems. Breathing problems can also occur for psychological reasons. If you are exposed to a lot of stress or suffer from mental illnesses in general, dyspnoea cannot necessarily be ruled out.
Dyspnoea becomes noticeable at the latest when everything becomes too much for you or when you are exposed to enormous pressure. Burnout is typical of this. With burnout, you experience many different symptoms. The most common are pain in the limbs, lack of strength and respiratory distress.
The most common causes of breathlessness are certain diseases that cause breathing problems. These include, for example, asthma or COPD. COPD is a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This means that the airways become increasingly narrow. This makes it much harder to breathe.
Asthma is a disease that is not necessarily rare. More and more people suffer from asthma. Here it is important to talk it out with your treating doctor.
Other causes can be:
- Psychological problems or stress
- Continuous stress
- Traumatic experiences
- Anxiety or anxiety disorders
- Heart disease
Traumatic experiences are often repressed by the affected persons. However, this can lead to long-term consequential damage. Traumatic experiences can also cause flashbacks, for example. In this case, one is virtually transported back to the traumatic experience and relives the event. This can also lead to breathing problems.
In the case of anxiety, affected persons usually also experience breathing difficulties. In the case of a heart attack, this is quite typical. The victim mainly shows chest discomfort and is thus afraid of death. This fear of death can also cause shortness of breath.
Now the question is how to recognise respiratory distress. The corresponding symptoms are very important for this. Basically, with dyspnoea you can assume that the person affected has difficulty breathing. There are different symptoms.
The most common symptoms of respiratory problems include:
- Shortness of breath
- Burning in the chest
- Shortness of breath when lying down or at night
- Breathlessness during low output or also during pregnancy
It is not unusual for shortness of breath to occur during pregnancy. The psychological stress during pregnancy can also be the cause. Nevertheless, you should discuss the symptoms of dyspnoea with your gynaecologist or your attending doctor.
What to do in case of shortness of breath?
If you suffer from sudden shortness of breath or wish to help an affected person, there are a few things to consider. We have collected the most important tips for dyspnea.
- If shortness of breath occurs suddenly, the affected person quickly panics. Here it is important to calm yourself or the person down. Because any panic is encouraged by even more fear.
- You should try to breathe calmly and carefully. In this way, one tries carefully and slowly to regain regular breathing.
- It is extremely important to call for first aid and to dial the emergency number. It depends on how severe the shortness of breath is. This is because shortness of breath can very often be related to a life-threatening situation, such as a pulmonary embolism.
- The affected person must be placed in a supportive sitting position. The person should be sat up carefully and slowly. Any jerky movement can make breathing more difficult. It is best to support the person against a wall.
- Tight clothing must be loosened to expose the airways.
- If unconsciousness occurs, breathing must be controlled. If breathing is regular, place the person in the recovery position.
- If the person stops breathing or suffers a cardiac arrest, resuscitation measures must be taken immediately.
Note: If you have breathing problems, one of the things you can do is train the auxiliary breathing muscles. Specific breathing training can strengthen the respiratory support muscles and alleviate breathing problems. There are different programmes or courses for this.
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