Breathing is something that most of us take for granted, that is until we unexpectedly aren’t able to breathe normally one day. There are few things more unsettling than not being able to take in a breath, and there are many different things that could cause this phenomenon.
Here are some of the most common causes of shortness of breath and some natural ways to approach this health concern.
Understanding Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is medically known as dyspnea and feels like a tightening in the chest or a feeling of suffocation. This sensation can occur without warning and take people by surprise if it’s not a regular occurrence due to an ongoing medical condition.
What Causes Shortness of Breath?
Healthy people without serious medical conditions can experience shortness of breath due to strenuous exercise or extreme heat. High altitudes can also cause people to become short of breath while hiking, even if they are in good physical shape.
However, various medical conditions can make people feel like they’re gasping for breath even while remaining still. Obesity can make a person feel out of breath while doing very moderate activity, for example. Asthma and allergies are common causes of shortness of breath that occur on a regular basis. If you have congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung disease, or pneumonia, you may feel shortness of breath as a symptom of your condition. Tuberculosis, a pulmonary embolism, heart arrhythmia, and sarcoidosis are other possible causes.
During the global coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19 emerged as a major cause for shortness of breath. This is a common symptom of the virus, along with cough and fever. COVID-19-related shortness of breath may be accompanied by a heaviness in the chest, confusion, and disorientation.
Risk Factors for Shortness of Breath
Certain things can make you more prone to shortness of breath, which are good to know in order to prevent this condition as much as possible. People who are very overweight and inactive tend to feel short of breath more often than those who maintain a healthy weight and exercise. Individuals with chromic respiratory conditions, such as asthma, know the feeling of shortness of breath well and must find effective ways to deal with these sensations when they occur. Low hemoglobin levels, being a cigarette smoker, or living in an environment that triggers your allergies are other risk factors to consider.
Natural Treatments for Shortness of Breath
There are some natural remedies that you can try for mild shortness of breath symptoms, especially if you know what is causing your symptom and you’ve already been diagnosed by a medical professional. When you feel shortness of breath, it is typically best to relax your body as much a possible and try leaning forward while breathing through pursed lips. Some people find it easier to breathe while seated and putting their head down on a table or while standing and leaning against a wall to open up the airways.
You can try moving to a cool indoor environment or turning on a fan to promote better breathing and practicing meditation to get in the habit of taking deep, calming breaths. It also helps to limit your exposure to toxins and pollutants as much as possible, especially tobacco smoke and exhaust fumes. Fresh ginger, black coffee, and foods high in vitamin C can also be effective in helping you maintain a good airflow in your lungs and breathing well on a daily basis.