QS: Find out more about dysfunctional breathing and hyperventilation from this article.
Have you forgotten how to breathe? The most important question that comes up is, can anyone forget breathing?
If you are reading it, you know you are here since you think something is wrong with the way you are breathing now.
The term for any change in breathing pattern is known as dysfunctional breathing and you are here to understand why the difficulty in breathing is a cause of worry today.
What causes it and how to heal it?
Who can it happen to and what are the causes that affect your breathing pattern primarily?
In this post, you will find handy help from a person who has undergone such a life changing event.
Well, it happened so that one day a girl fell down while coming out of the washroom on the wet floor and the same night woke up with a change in her breathing pattern. A number of visits to different types of doctors led to the conclusion that she was suffering from dysfunctional breathing.
Almost all of a sudden, she forgot how to breathe, something she knew even when she was a newborn with zero training.
Most of them concluded that the fall led to increased anxiety and that the breathing difficulty was due to anxiety primarily.
Slowly, she found out that she was not alone in the game, and that there were others like her. Mostly athletes and here she was who had never risen a foot lest she would have to face any inconvenience.
While searching for a cause it was noted that there could be many reasons and the ordeal to understand if there was a way to address and also can dysfunctional breathing be cured began for her, a journey in itself.
Table of Contents
Dysfunctional Breathing Causes
We would know the dysfunctional breathing causes next for those who wish to understand more about the situation they are in like the Y girl. why difficulty in breathing is a point of concern and what are the causes behind it apart from pollution being the master problem guiding a human’s ability to breathe.
Many protagonists often do a conjoined work or work singularly to bring distress to a person’s breathing pattern. The dysfunctional breathing patterns are quite different and often resemble a person short of breath.
What causes them, dive in to know more.
|Worrying state of mind||Anaemia that happens due to iron deficiency in the body|
|Depression for a prolonged period (more than three months)||Asthma|
|Stress that leads to high stress hormone levels||Lungs having blood clots or accumulated fluid that can be due to several bacterial and viral conditions|
|Anxiety that stays with you||Pneumonia|
|A constant mindset of continuous better performance and a high sense of competition||COPD/Emphysema|
|Uncontrolled fears||Low calcium levels|
|Tiredness and due to it dizziness||Post ovulation phase in women|
|Sensitivity to abnormal light and sound frequencies||Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD)|
|Borderline personality disorder|
|Drugs||Other important ones|
|Aspirin overdose||Sudden fall|
|Ventolin inhaler||Damage to the diaphragm wall or the ribs|
|Progesterone when administered as a hormone||Fever|
|Caffeine||Several habitual drugs|
|Nicotine||Excessive unmonitored exercise|
How or what is the process of dysfunctional breathing?
Is dysfunctional breathing dangerous?
It is a process that can lead to scarring of tissues and soon asthma, gut disorders and other such complaints may creep up in no time.
Refer to this chart for a detailed view of what goes wrong with your body when faced with dysfunctional breathing:
Image Credit: PhysioPedia.com
If figures seem daunting to decipher, read the steps as presented below to get a grip on what happens in dysfunctional breathing.
- Any stimuli that are abnormal for your body can lead to an anxious body state.
- A gasping breathing pattern means mouth breathing more frequently.
- This breathing pattern reduces the carbon dioxide levels in the body.
- It further aggravates the need to breathe more and also induces the feeling of breath incompleteness.
- Blood can become more alkaline due to increased oxygen level and less carbon dioxide in the blood.
- Calcium is lost more and more and it further aggravates poor muscle and nerve function.
- Respiratory alkalosis, smooth muscle constriction, narrowing of blood vessels, and gut walls narrowing.
- All these processes will lead to decreased Bohr Effect that will lead to the reduction of oxygen delivery and as such impaired oxygen exchange within the red blood cells.
The total description of dysfunctional breathing means addressing different issues together.
With 8%-10% of the population being impacted, and it being more common in women and children, it is a concerning factor.
Symptoms of Dysfunctional Breathing
Dysfunctional breathing symptoms include and significantly impacts;
- Diaphragmatic descent poor and its exacerbation
- Thoracic mobility loss
- Accessory or respiratory muscle stress or tension
- Postures considered dysfunctional for appropriate movement of the chest wall
These conditions will lead to the occurrence of more than 30 different kinds of symptoms that one needs to look out for. If you have at least three of these symptoms, you might need to look into them deeply so that you can find a way to overcome the dysfunctional breathing condition.
Some of the common symptoms are tabulated and include;
- Increased frequency of yawning and sighing
- Sleep disturbances
- Irregular heartbeats
- Anxious and uptight feelings
- Uncomfortable Breathing
- Wet or sweaty palms
- Chest pain or muscle pain
- Increased tiredness
- Dizziness or spacing out
- Air hunger development
- Low back pain and BPD
- Feeling of pins and needles
- Shallow, rapid, upper chest thoracic breathing
- Chronic rhino sinusitis may worsen with an increase in dysfunctional breathing
These symptoms combined or different led to its elaborate classification as given below.
Dysfunctional Breathing Classification
Barker and Everard and Boulder et all classified dysfunctional breathing into the following and you can know why difficulty in breathing is to be carefully monitored;
|Barker and Everard||Boulding et al|
|Thoracic dysfunctional breathing||Only upper chest wall activity, sighing, irregularity in respiratory patterns||Hyperventilation syndrome||Only respiratory alkalosis association|
|Extrathoracic||Impairment of the upper airway and even vocal cord dysfunction||Periodic deep sighing||Sighing, irregular breathing pattern overlapping into hyperventilation|
|Functional||No structural or functional changes in breathing pattern||Dominant breathing through the thorax||Higher levels of dyspnoea, somatic diseases might show up leading to increased hyperinflation|
|Structural||Anatomical or neurological changes||Forced abdominal expiration||Increased abdominal muscle contraction, prominent often in COPD, and pulmonary hyperinflation|
|Asynchronous Thoracoabdominal muscles||Rib cage and abdominal contraction as ineffective respiratory mechanics. Upper airway obstruction as a normal physiological response|
Basically, dysfunctional breathing is one of the most precocious ones and often it takes a lot of effort and time on people’s part to understand and effectively treat and cure it.
Dysfunctional Breathing Treatment
Is dysfunctional breathing dangerous? It is, if it not addressed appropriately. Treating dysfunctional breathing is the most neglected part in some developing countries as the right knowledge and awareness around it is mostly missing from people.
Treatment courses are primarily centered on finding if there is an underlying cause of its occurrence like an allergic asthma or asthma of any kind. Also, in elderly, occurrence of COPD or emphysema works well to contribute to dysfunctional breathing.
If you are an athlete, your nature of sports will be taken into consideration.
For an athlete, you will be assessed for these parameters:
- Musculoskeletal conditions
- Poor aerobic fitness
- Exercise induced bronchoconstriction and laryngeal obstruction
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Other infectious diseases
As and when a person is not asthmatic, the primary goal is to reset the dysfunctional breathing back to normal by aligning the lungs and brain suitably.
Most of it is done through physiotherapy and proper breathing trainings.
- Nose breathing effectively
- Tummy movements
- Subconscious and automatic process retraining
- Ability to complete full sentences
- Keeping the inhalation period slightly shorter than the exhalation
- Getting rid of mouth breathing, noisy, erratic, and shallow brief breathing
- Preventing raised shoulders from occurring
- Top chest movement prevention
- Reducing the breathlessness and the coughing, yawning and sighing frequencies and tendencies
The process to align your breathing would include the following if you want to answer why difficulty in breathing is essential to resolve;
- Belly breathing is the first step to rectify breathing abnormality. Place the hand on your chest and inflate and deflate your tummy while normal breathing.
- Trying to implement nose breathing regularly
- Working and managing the trigger points like anxiety, pain, reflux, and other such externally manageable conditions.
- Posture rectification
- Staying active all this while will help keep your muscles taut so that there are no weak muscles as these have the ability to draw in more oxygen.
- Window Breathing means forming a square breathing pattern wherein you take continuous back to back inspirations and expirations into consideration.
Image credit: wsh.nhs.uk
- Increase your fitness and exercise tolerance alongwith your quality of life.
If you wish to know where you must stand, you need to follow the BORG breathless scale.
|0||Unnoticeable breathlessness||No issues at all|
|0.5||Enough noticeable||Faintly breathless|
|1||Very slight||Breathing is a bit harder|
|2||Slight||Can converse and feeling of warmth|
|3||Moderate||As though things are working|
|4||Somewhat slightly difficult||Bit puffed and sweaty but|
|5||Difficult||Breathless, hot sweaty but can talk|
|6||Moderately severe||Talking is possible but can’t push|
|7||Severe||Very breathless and struggling|
|8||Very severe||Grunting more than talking and can’t keep the speed for a long time|
|9||Very, very severe||Not able to talk and feeling to stop sooner|
|10||Maximum effort||Maximum force|
Everytime while exercising, you need to remember not to exert yourself beyond 3 or 4. Exercising is a must as not exercising will lead to weak muscles that consume more oxygen. Further breathless feeling can make one feel like they cannot ever exercise again.
Thus, exercising, having a healthy diet with the right amount of vegetables and protein and a regular sleep cycle will help immensely alongwith removal of unnecessary triggers. With the ever rising pollution, why difficulty in breathing is a concern is something that must be tackled accordingly.
Read more about sun’s exposure and effect on skin here