Experiencing shortness of breath can be unpleasant and scary, though not a sign of serious illness always, in some people it could be a sign that mandates a visit to the doctor. 

If you’re not sure, read on to understand your symptoms and their possible causes and if you’re still worried, it is best to talk to your doctor.

What Does “Air-hunger” Feel Like?

“Air-hunger” or shortness of breath is an uncomfortable condition that makes you feel winded, unable to take a full breath or get enough air into the lungs. Medically, it is termed as “Dyspnoea”. 

This feeling is very similar to how you feel after an intense workout at the gym or after having climbed a big flight of steps.

Signs to look out for:

  • Shortness of breath on exertion or other physical activity

  • Shortness of breath due to medical conditions such as asthma

  • Laboured or hurried breathing

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Wheezing or coughing

  • Palpitations

  • Sweating

You might find yourself running short of breath if:

  • You have any medical conditions affecting your heart (such as heart attack, low blood pressure, etc.), lungs (such as pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, effusion, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, etc.).

  • You’re experiencing panic attacks, anxiety, and severe stress.

  • You’ve had an allergic reaction (anaphylactic reaction).

  • You live in areas of high levels of pollution, extreme temperatures or high altitude.

  • You’ve been exposed to chemicals such as carbon monoxide.

  • You’ve been diagnosed with cancer or are on chemotherapy for the same.

  • You’ve been smoking.

How to Ease Shortness of Breath?

You may find some relief through the techniques mentioned below that help enhance your overall health and your breathing.  

  • Quit smoking. If you are a smoker, stop smoking as soon as you can, and stay away from passive smoking as well. Your doctor will help you to find ways to ease the process.Smoking cigarettes not only causes breathlessness but also increases the chances of developing lung diseases. 

  • Exercise. With time, exercise can strengthen your muscles as well as your lung capacity due to which you will be able to perform physical activities without feeling exhausted. 

  • Manage your body weight. Exercise will also help you shed weight. This is important since obesity can increase the stress on your heart and lungs, both of which lead to breathlessness. 

    Consult your physician to determine the level of exercise that will be suitable for you. This is important if you are overweight and are experiencing dyspnoea at the same time. 
  • Relaxation techniques. You can listen to relaxing music or podcasts on your mobile. You can also try progressive muscle relaxation, in which you tense a group of muscles as you breathe in, and you relax as you breathe out. This will also help relieve stress and improve the quality of your sleep. 

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.