Hi, I'm a runner but lately I'm having difficulty breathing on runs. I'm fine with shorter distances/intervals, but on longer runs that are SLOW, I start having problems with my breathing. For example, I had cramps, which went away at the second mile on my run, and then, on the third mile, my chest felt really tight. I stopped to get a drink and catch my breath, but I couldn't take deep breaths at all. It was very difficult and my right shoulder started feeling heavy. It took me a while to actually catch my breath (and I was running very slowly too). Right now, it still feels tight and the left side hurts a little when I exhale. I also tend to want to yawn a lot, and I doze off easily. I used to think I was only sleep-deprived, but I sleep for 12 hours at night without an alarm, and I fall asleep in the afternoon. I get easily tired throughout the day just from reading something. I don't know if it's because I'm not getting enough oxygen or something. I don't know if this means anything, but, I had pneumonia three years ago. The year after I got pneumonia, I also had similar breathing problems but not as bad. I was fine last year though.
All these symptoms are suggestive of sleep disordered breathing, the most common cause of which is obstructive sleep apnea.
That would not account for shortness of breath with exertion, cramps, chest tightness or heaviness of the right shoulder. Possibilities to account for the “breathing problem” would be exercise induced asthma and heart disease, including but not limited to coronary artery disease.
I suggest that your doctors to arrange for an exercise study to evaluate heart and lung function with supervised, monitored exertion, and that consideration also be given to the possibility that you may also have sleep apnea.
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