Respiratory Disorders Community
10.6k Members
Avatar universal

Can't get a deep breath / Difficulty Breathing

Hi - I've been having difficulty breathing for at least the last 9-10 years...and it's a daily thing.  I am 31 years old, am healthy (exercise almost daily, eat healthily, am not overweight, do not smoke, and only drink socially), and yet I always feel like my breathing is extremely laboured.  I constantly yawn to try to catch a satisfying breath.  There are some periods throughout the day where it's not laboured and I feel as if I breathe normally, but then it creeps up on me and I have to start yawning again.  My nose feels very clogged all the time and my chest, stomach, and back muscles feel very constricted when breathing.  It's especially noticeable when I am working out...especially running and lifting weights.  I have to stop every once in a while just to yawn (frustrating) to stop from getting dizzy.  It's also noticeable as I am trying to go to sleep and/or when I've had a glass or 2 of wine.  I was "diagnosed" with exercise-induced asthma 9-10 years ago, but I think this was a mis-diagnosis as the inhalers never work (I've tried all sorts) and they usually end up making me feel worse.  After using the inhaler I always end up coughing up fluid and my breathing sounds gurgle-ly  (so I don't take them any more unless I feel I really need to...note that I have never had a full blown asthma attack).  I'm worried that it could be something else (was exposed to TB as a teenager, but took the "horse pills" for 6 months and was told I was fine), but none of my doctors will really listen to me.  They see that I am slim and active, and they dismiss me - I live in the UK (free socialised healthcare - so not a lot of time to spend with patients).  Has anyone else experienced this?  I see lots of threads on here with the same topic, but they all have to do with taking medications, being overweight, being a current/past smoker, being depressed/having anxiety, etc.  Please help - I'm tired of living like this.  I'm worried that I could be living with something undiagnosed that could rear it's ugly head one day.
530 Responses
Avatar universal
I have this same problem.  I've had it for over a year and have every test 3 time and even had reflux (fundo) surgery.  Nothing has helped.  I read some other entries on MedHelp from 2004 and 2006 from people who have the same thing.  I'm wondering if they were helped or if anyone has been treated for this. I am going to the cleveland clinic in a month, but a month seems like a year and not being able to breathe is driving me crazy!!
Please email at ***@****  (my girlfriends address).  Please Help.
Avatar universal
I have exactly the same symptoms.  I am 44 years old and have been dealing with this on and off for at least 10 years...it seems to occur more often as I get older.  I went to the doctor and was told it was GERD and then was given acid reflux medication.  The doctors also seem to dismiss my symptoms because I am overall very heathy.  I did have a problem with hives about 2 years ago and as weird as it seems it almost feels like I have some type of inflamation (like hives) in my lungs that makes it impossible to breath deeply.  It will suddenly disappear then return again.  I have tried cutting out alcohol, artificial sweetners, all allergy medication, diet soda, etc....and I can't get a direct link to anything that I'm injesting.  I plan on purchasing a air purifier to see if that helps....have you tried that?
Avatar universal
hi everyone...i have been unable to breath satisfyingly(if thats a word) for about 15 years now. I have been though just about every lung/cardio test out there.  I was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse and was told that my shortness of breathe had nothing to with this diagnosis but have read that some people do experience shortness of breathe, so ruling out mitral valve prolaspe(MVP) might be something you want to try. I would discribe my shortness of breathe as trying to suck in air and being stopped half way and being full when it is at its worst..  Its with me everyday and some days its worse.  It seems to get worse a week or so before my menstrual cycle.  I quit smoking at the on set of this symptom, i too have tried different to relief this feeling. I hope this may be helpful to some of you...also if you find a way to relief this feeling of breathlessness, please let me know.  
Avatar universal
Hello all, I just turned 33 last month and am suffering from the same problem. I dont know where it came from, I wasnt nor had I been sick when it started..  For me it seems to come and go with out warning and when its happening I find that I become very light headed from trying to constantly take in a deep breath, its driving me crazy and the Dr's cant seem to find anything wrong. Im going in for more testing next week, I will post my findings, if any..
Avatar universal
My problems started ten years ago at age 30 when I suddenly felt myself getting out of breath while playing basketball. It seemed that any intense physical exertion would bring on feelings of breathlessness and it began to effect my play and my life psychologically. I became afraid of running and walking up more than one flight of stairs. Also, the fact that it came out of nowhere really freaked me out and I started having anxiety about diseases I might have and avoided most physical activity.

I went to my doctor and was diagnosed with having GERD and given Prevacid. I tried this and then tried Nexium and my acid reflux and coughing at night disappeared but the medicine did nothing to help my shortness of breath. I was then diagnosed as having exercise induced asthma and given an inhaler. It didn't work. I was then sent to a pulmonologist and run through a series of breathing tests and even an echogram of my chest and x-ray of my lungs. They found nothing and prescribed a different inhaler which didn't show any sign of helping even while I was taking the tests. For some reason they gave it to me anyway and I went away frustrated. Next I was sent to the cardiologist and he ran me through an EKG, stress test on the treadmill, echocardiogram before and after
exertion. All results came back as negative with an excellent ejection fraction. They did find some PVCs but said they were nothing to worry about. I went away feeling better about my heart but still had the episodes of shortness of breath.

After all of this, I finally decided to take control of the situation myself. I began an intense cardio workout program and lost weight. I changed my diet and did everything I could think of to become more healthy. At first I struggled with the conditioning and my own anxiety of losing my breath. The shortness of breath over the years had almost developed into a phobia of hard exercise. I hyperventilated many times in the beginning but after a few weeks I felt stronger and better. After a few months I was able to play basketball again and run like I used to without getting too winded. I had to rebuild my confidence as well as my fitness but everything seemed to be going OK. The only problem was that I still occasionally got the sensation of shortness of breath even though I was well conditioned and frequently became light headed as well. I became frustrated one day and did a work out even while feeling short of breath and seemed to feel better once I got moving. This got me wondering so I went to the pulmonologist while having another shortness of breath attack and my blood oxygen levels tested. They came back normal even though I felt like I wasn't getting enough air.

Today, three years later, I'm even more confused than ever. I'm left wondering if I am really short of breath or is anxiety causing me to feel that way? I also wonder if the skipped beats of my heart (PVCs) have anything to do with the breathlessness sensations. I feel better than I did before beginning my conditioning but I still don't feel like I could just up and run at full speed without grabbing my knees. I also don't feel like I've solved the problem completely - only masked it by getting in better shape. If anyone has any answers, please pass them along. I've read many posts and the common thread seems to be that the problem begins in most around the age of 30. What's up with that I wonder?
Avatar universal
I'm 23 and have been having the same problem for years.  I can be sitting calmly studying (not stressing) and suddenly can't breathe, or running and just can't get enough air.  It's not the out-of-shape gasping, it's that no matter how deeply or often I take a breath my lungs just won't take enough oxygen out of it.  If it happens on the treadmill I check my heart rate and it's relatively normal. If anyone sees a doctor who does anything other than prescribe an inhaler (which also does nothing but give me a wet cough) please let me know what they said!
Have an Answer?
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out what causes asthma, and how to take control of your symptoms.
Healing home remedies for common ailments
Tricks to help you quit for good.
Is your area one of the dirtiest-air cities in the nation?
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.
Here’s how your baby’s growing in your body each week.