Can't take full breath. Anxiety? Something else?

(32 Posts)
LemonMuffins Wed 11-Jul-18 16:55:53

This used to happen to me fairly frequently but hasn't plagued me for ages, until yesterday.

I'm breathing fine, in that I'm not struggling for breath but I feel a constant urge to take a good, deep breath. However, when I try, it's not satisfying, like my lungs aren't big enough. It's making me want to yawn.

I'm not in any pain and feel otherwise fine. I'm early 30's, not overweight and have no known health issues.

The only lifestyle changes I've made in the last few weeks are stopping the contraceptive pill after many years, and I started running again (I don't have any breathing issues when running).

Google says anxiety, asthma or heart failure. Can you have anxiety without knowing? I don't think I feel anxious, but maybe I am? I'd like to think I'm not about to drop dead.

Anyone experienced this or have any thoughts?

I will of course go to the GP if it doesn't resolve but I feel like a time waster at the moment.

OP’s posts: |
Nogodsnomasters Wed 11-Jul-18 17:18:25

Hi, this sensation is called "air hunger" I used to get it a lot with my anxiety and it is definitely an anxiety symptom but I have no idea about it being a symptom of anything else more sinister so honestly couldn't comment on that side of things. I found the less I focused on it and thought of other things / kept occupied the quicker it went away.

Buddyelf Wed 11-Jul-18 17:22:06

It’s anxiety, I get this exactly how you describe - it’s like the breath you take doesn’t get all the way to the bottom and the more you focus on it the more anxious you get and it’s a viscious cycle! Maybe a trip to the gp to see how you can manage your anxiety?

gamerchick Wed 11-Jul-18 17:24:05

Personally I would go and get iron levels checked first.

UpTheBumNoBabies Wed 11-Jul-18 17:24:27

I'm so glad you've posted this. I never put this together with my anxiety.

The only way I've ever been able to explain the feeling is like you're trying to get to the top of a hill but you just can't push past that last little bit without forcing a yawn.

Sorry, no advice op 🙈

LemonMuffins Wed 11-Jul-18 17:29:59

Well at least I'm not alone with this! It's driving me insane.

@gamerchick why do you mention iron? I'm vegetarian so it's very possible my levels are low. I avoid taking iron supplements as they make me constipated blush

I'm happy to accept anxiety as a diagnosis but surely I'd feel anxious if I were? I think I'm fairly content with life in general. No particular stress.

OP’s posts: |
LemonMuffins Wed 11-Jul-18 17:32:01

& yes @buddyelf it's exactly like that. I just don't feel anxious confused

OP’s posts: |


GorgonLondon Wed 11-Jul-18 17:33:21

I was dangerously anaemic without knowing it - I mean 50% chance of dropping dead type dangerous- - and I didn't have this symptom.

I had loads of other symptoms but not feeling like I couldn't take a full case that's reassuring?

Janek Wed 11-Jul-18 17:35:33

I agree it's 'anxiety' - i have had it since i was a teenager, when i don't think i was particularly anxious. I never knew what it was and it used to worry me (ironically!). A couple of years ago i went to the doctor because i was particularly anxious and mentioned it as a symptom. She did blood tests and listened to my lungs/heart etc and found nothing wrong. I found it really reassuring that it was 'all in my mind' so nothing to worry about, but i did feel for some considerable time that i wasn't able to use the whole of my lungs, which was quite unpleasant.

The thing that has made it much better is yoga - not the zen-ness, i am really not that zen when i am practising yoga, but the deep, repetitive breathing, this has made a massive difference to me.

SheGotBetteDavisEyes Wed 11-Jul-18 17:39:31

I've had this since I was young. It's literally only in the last few years that I realised not everyone struggles for that 'deep breath.'

I sympathize OP, it's not a nice feeling.

Buddyelf Wed 11-Jul-18 17:42:02

OP if you are concerned please don’t take our word for it that’s anxiety and pop to the GP. I know mine is, I suffer with anxiety badly and take medication to help but if you aren’t feeling anxious or have a history of anxiety go and get checked out

LemonMuffins Wed 11-Jul-18 17:45:39

Thanks @janek, I will recommence yoga - I quite enjoy it.

I suppose while I'm not particularly "worried" about anything, I am a bit of a control freak and a passionate list maker. Always planning, thinking, planning again - money, holidays, life. Maybe I've misunderstood what anxiety is. I do struggle to switch off and I don't like sitting in silence, there's always something that needs researching or planning... But I'm not sitting here being "worried" if you see what I mean.

Im quite sure I'm not about to keel over. I really do feel quite fine apart from the faux breathlessness.

OP’s posts: |
gamerchick Wed 11-Jul-18 17:48:18

I was dangerously anaemic without knowing it - I mean 50% chance of dropping dead type dangerous- - and I didn't have this symptom

First symptom that alerted me. Summick to do with maybe people don't display shit identically to each other perhaps? wink

Either way doctors for you from the sounds of it OP.

LemonMuffins Wed 11-Jul-18 17:52:55

Yeah, I'll take myself in for a look over... Thanks everyone flowers

OP’s posts: |
LeeMiller Wed 11-Jul-18 17:53:28

I have had this on and off for the past couple of years and find it's worse in the heat, although I don't know why (I do have low blood pressure and have always suffered in high temperatures generally though). My lungs, heart, iron level, vitamin levels, thyroid etc have all been checked and it's been put down to anxiety, although I don't feel anxious, I'm actually pretty content. The onset coincided with a stressful period at work though so perhaps I was anxious without realising it. Like Nogods it tends to go away if I'm distracted or really involved in something.

I have a tendency to breathe from my chest rather than stomach, the most effective 'cure' for me has been doing yoga deep breathing exercises to train myself to breathe from my belly. Also, when I'm suffering from air hunger, small breaths rather than the deep ones I instintively want to take get rid of the air hunger sensation quickly, whereas deep breaths perpetuate the cycle.

StableGenius Wed 11-Jul-18 17:56:34

I had this, on and off, for the last couple of years and assumed it was anxiety, but now it turns out I had silent reflux - heartburn without the burn - and all the acid coming up from my stomach was making my breathing feel weird. Now the reflux has gone, so has the 'air hunger' feeling.

Definitely get it checked out - it was really getting me down (and the idea of heart failure wasn't doing a lot to lessen the anxiety...).

Ellapaella Wed 11-Jul-18 20:01:05

Not necessarily anxiety but breathing is one of those things we do unconsciously.. once you start thinking about it it becomes weird. I expect if we all started to think about breathing and became preoccupied with it we'd start to feel we needed to inspire deeply etc. If you start thinking about yawning for example you can guarantee you will yawn!
What happens when you are totally distracted and preoccupied with other things? Do you still do it then? Do you find you are thinking about it all the time?
The trouble with mumsnet and google is that there will always be a horror story which is what we tend to focus on.
Speak to your GP if you are concerned is obviously the best advice you will get on the internet.

AnotherOne4 Sun 15-Jul-18 17:26:32

LemonMuffins - I just posted something similar to this. I'm also vegetarian and had trouble taking that deep breath. Turns out I was aneamic, due to vegetarian diet. Doctor prescribed me iron tablets which have made a great difference in my symptoms.

Tumon Mon 16-Jul-18 07:04:56

Yes! Had/have this on and off. It’s like I can’t take a full breath without yawning (as in yawning helps get the breath all the way in). So strange because sometimes I don’t realise I’m anxious about something and this reminds me to keep check. Google “diaphragmatic breathing’ it REALLY helps to get the breaths into your lungs properly (expand rib cage) as opposed to the shallow breathing pattern Of neck breathing. I rarely get it now!

Strax Mon 16-Jul-18 07:10:32

Frequent feeling like you have to 'sigh' to get more air in is also a sign of B12 deficiency anaemia which is different to iron deficiency anaemia. It's basically because however much you breathe, your blood can't carry oxygen efficently. So rather than having physical trouble breathing, as in asthma, you can take deep breaths but they don't really help.

HBA1981 Mon 16-Jul-18 07:11:17

I had something similar and put it down to anxiety for years, eventually symptoms got worse and it turns out I was anaemic and had an overactive thyroid ( that mimicked anxiety in symptoms). I would always get a dr to check it out before just settling on it being due to anxiety.

Tumon Mon 16-Jul-18 09:01:27

So interesting! The things mumsnet teaches me...I did have bloods done a few years ago and came back clear but I suppose no harm in trying again.
@strax I take a vitamin complex that potentially has b12 in it Hence the lack of symptoms maybe? Thanks

Lysimachia Mon 16-Jul-18 09:38:19

I had this coupled with anxiety but the anxiety turned out to be linked to an overactive thyroid. It all went away when thyroid was treated. Ask for a thyroid test too.

jesusmanzanares331 Tue 03-Dec-19 22:19:40

Hello. How long after you started treatment for the silent reflux, that your breathing symptoms went away? i just started my treatment about 3 days ago but dont feel a difference in breathing

twolungs Tue 03-Dec-19 23:22:55

Do you find yourself noticing you are shorter of breath generally? Or feeling like you aren't getting any fitter? It might be worth asking your GP for spirometry (lung function testing).

Other things that help: avoid overeating as this pushes the stomach against the lungs, placing a bag of rice under your navel while lying down and breathing so it rises/falls - this helps strengthen the diaphram/breathing muscles.

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