Ever feel like you have a lump in your throat that just won’t go away? Anxiety disorders can cause you to feel what seems like millions of symptoms and sensations. The feeling that you can’t breathe right is a very common one.
So your sitting there minding your own business when all of a sudden you feel like you can’t expand your chest all the way. You yawn and sigh so that you can suck in more air, but as soon as you stop doing that you’re right were you started. So what the heck is going on?
Well, first let me just say that if you are talking to loved ones or friends and asking them why you can’t breathe then be confident that your life is not on the line as it takes lots of air to talk.
More importantly, if you have had this issue and have not been seen by a doctor then go as soon as you can. This is not to startle you but to give you peace of mind. Go to the doctor for a check up and if all is well then you have a nerves problem and not a breathing one.
If it is your anxiety causing this you can chalk it up to hyperventilation. Hyperventilation is just a really long word that means that you are breathing too much, too fast, or both. Sometimes when we are stressed, or filled with anxiety, we begin to breathe faster without even knowing it and this leads to the sense that you cannot catch your breath, perhaps even numbness, dizziness, headaches and faintness.
You might feel like there is something stuck in your airway and that you’re going to suffocate. Very normal!
If you are in the throws of a hyperventilation attack what can you do? Well there is the oldest trick in the book which calls for a good old paper bag. You start by breathing into the paper bag while at the same time slowing your breathing rate. This helps to increase your carbon dioxide levels and lowers blood ph so that you can calm down. But what if your not flailing around and still can’t breathe?
There are two types of “breathing too fast” conditions called chronic and acute hyperventilation syndrome or HVS . The acute variety of HVS is characterized by fast, shallow breathing. The chronic type of HVS is similar but without the panic symptoms. You feel like you can’t breathe yet you appear normal.
The important thing to remember however is that whether it is too much air, fast air, or anything in the middle, you must slow your breathing. I know this sounds easy, but it’s not. Try looking at the seconds on your watch and take a deep slow breath in for 7 seconds and breathe out for 4 seconds. If this makes you feel whoozy then try 5 seconds in and 4 seconds out. This is known as the so-called 7-11 breathing technique.
So your breathing real slow and still feel like you can’t breathe? It could also be heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease otherwise known as GERD. That’s right, believe it or not heartburn can make you feel like you can’t take a deep breath, clear your throat or even stop burping. So make sure you see your doctor so that you understand the why and how to treat the why.
When you have an anxiety disorder is it so easy to lose control and let fast shallow breathing become a full blown panic attack. The key is to slow your breathing, eat right (heartburn) and to accept even these scary symptoms.
Trust me when I say that these symptoms can be disturbing but will not harm you. Always be prepared with as much information as possible so when it happens again you know what’s going on and how to cope with it.
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