Respiratory Disorders Community
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Avatar universal

Constant Urge to Take Deep Breaths


For the last week I've had a constant urge to take deep breaths, and fill my lungs so that they feel stretched. The breath gives minor satisfaction, but then the urge returns.
Sometimes, I feel like I need to yawn, but the yawns are not satisfying like they should be. I don't have any problems breathing, nor do I have any other symptoms, like coughing, raspiness or wheezing. Just this persistent urge to breathe deeply.

A lot of posts I've seen on related symptoms seem to think this is anxiety, but I really don't think that I have a lot of anxiety right now.

Any ideas?

This discussion is related to urgency to take deep breaths.
116 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi Rick
Another area you might like to explore. I have done some research as i was also having similar problems. To my astonishment there are many scented Products that can contribute or let alone be the course of tighness around the throat and upper chest area.
Hence this making one feel as if they at times breath through a thin Straw.
do you use Perfiume or other scented Product?
Try not to use those and see if yuo are experiencing improvements.
I experienced improvevements since i stopped using an expensive Aftershave.
Chemicals Manufacturers don't want you to know about.
Do your own research and type something like>> Breathing difficulties coursed by scented products<< and i am sure you be surprised what you will find!!
The only thing that bothers me now is a possible  excercise induced asthma.
Otherwise i am fine now.
Cheers' Ray
Avatar universal
Hey I have the same problem! I'm  34 years old and have been a very physically active person, up until about 5 years ago when I got a panick attack after smoking some pot. I think alot of this is anxiety, and our bodies getting into the rythm of going for that full breath of air. I dont consider myself and anxious person nor do I have anxiety attacks anymore but I just can't seem to shake this feeling of constantly needing to take a deap breath. I excrcise in moderation and try to control my breathing and relax, this seems to help alot.  I did notice that when I feel very cofident and fearless this symptom seems to vanish.... strange?? I hope that this may help someone who's going through this, how do we get ride of this permanantly is the question I have.
Avatar universal
A google search landed me hear. It's nice to know that I am not the only one dealing with this. All of my issues are excatly the same that Rick described. The feeling of having to take a deep breath is so annoying. Then when I try to yawn and it's nothing. It's enough to make me crazy. I need to go to my doc and see what is going on. Thanks for giving me some peace of mind to know I am not alone dealing with this.
Avatar universal
Yes, I'm glad I'm not the only one!  I have the constant urge for a deep breath, and when I do it now, I'm having back pain.  I saw my doc (before the back pain started) and Chest xray and CT scan was clear, blood O2 was very slightly below normal, and Pulmonary function test (spirometry) showed indications of mild small airway disease.  We have no idea of the cause.  Ventolin and other inhalers do nothing.  I tried home air quality tests which turned up nothing toxic.  I've tried anti-inflammatories and allergy meds to no effect.  The worst part is that it seems to go away completetly for days at a time, then suddenly comes back for days at a time.  I've always been a runner/weight lifter and never smoked.  No I find I'm low on energy and have a hard time to do any exercise at all.  My next step is going to be a Naturopathic Doctor.  I'll let you know what I find!
It is possible that you have a condition that is causing rib restriction.   Check for Ankylosing spondylitis or some other kind of inflammatory arthrirltis.  
It is possible that you have a condition that is causing rib restriction.   Check for Ankylosing spondylitis or some other kind of inflammatory arthrirltis.  
Avatar universal
I'm having EXACTLY the same problems.  I've been experiencing this sudden urge to take a deep breath for about two weeks now.  I went to the dr yesterday, she listened to my lungs (no xray) and said my lungs were great.  She thinks it might be Acid Reflux, so she put me on Protonix.  But I've been taking Protonix for two days now, and I seem to have MORE difficulty breathing.

But like some of you, it comes and goes.  Sometimes I think it's completely gone, and then I can't breathe again.

It's scary....is there a doctor on here who might be able to help?  My HMO doesn't seem to care all that much.  At least, nothing's helping right now.  

AND I'm constantly, CONSTANTLY clearing my throat.  It's so annoying.  And on top of not being able to breathe, well..you get where I'm going.
Avatar universal
I have the same thing.  I have asthma  and reflux and just had reflux (fundo) surgery 2 months ago, but still feel bad.  I've taken every test possible from pulmonary and gastro docs.  Im taking stress test next week and going to Cleveland Clinic on sept 8th.  I don't know what to do, I beg doctors for help but they just order a test and when it comes back normal, they think im crazy.  Ive found at least 30-40 people on med help from all the way back in 2004 who have this.  We need help.  Any results please send a message.  I'm 34 and basically my lifes over.  
Avatar universal
I have the same issue with clearing my throat! It seems that if I don't do it I will choke or something. I have had that issue for years - I went to the doc once about it and I was told that it was post nasal drip. She prescribed RhinoCort?- I never took it. I read the side effect and there are worse than my issue to begin with
Avatar universal
I'm a 31 yo female with the same issues. I've had the slew of tests that it sounds like others have had with normal results (inlcuding pulmonary function, methylcholine challenge, Chest CT, EKG, stress test, scoping of my vocal chords, and allergy testing). Still no resolution.

Question: does anyone else find that it worsens with heat/humidity or with exercise? Also, it is definitely aggravated by excess of alcohol, caffiene, and sugar.

I have had some success (about 80% improvement) with acupuncture and herbs (Shu Gan) to treat damp-heat and stagnant liver qi. That may be worth mentioning to your chinese medicine practitioner if you do see him.

Would love to hear more from people who have had some success in curing this.
Avatar universal
some more thoughts as I looked through the old thread on the same issue....

anxiety of course has been a major focus of my acupunturist and my western medicine doctor. Xanax taken at the onset of attacks did help stave off full-fledged hyperventilating. Because of my hesitation to be on xanax long-term I haven't taken a regular course of it to see if it prevented the issue, but it did greatly improve my ability to exercise if taken before a workout. I previously had tried 2 months on Zoloft which did not eliminate the urge to take deep breaths.

I should add that I am not by nature an anxious person. Non of my friends or family would characterize me as such, but in talking with my acupuncturist, internalizing worry or stress can easily lead to these kinds of symptoms even though you may not think you're worried or stressed at all.

I'll post again as I know more!
Avatar universal
I'm a 30 yr old male. History of ear and nose problems.

I've had the same problem for a month or more. I went on a week long vacation and it seemed to mostly go away for the week. Then back to work, and wham! Right back at it.

This makes me believe it has to be stress and anxiety related/mental. That doesn't mean it has gone away. Either that or my bed at home isn't right for me and I'm not getting the right kind of sleep.

Obviously I'm thinking about it a lot if I'm searching online for answers no one has. Possibly if I stopped focusing on it so much, relaxed and controlled my breathing it would go away. This site is called Med help, and I'm not seeing a lot of help.

Maybe I need to work out more. Can't say I'm all that active. I work a desk job, then get home, and sit to relax. That's a lot of sitting, whereas on vacation I was very active.
Avatar universal
Agreed, there seem to be plenty of questions and not as much help.

I've found compelling evidence that this could be something mentioned in other areas, called chronic hyperventilation syndrome. I'm trying some breathing techniques and reading a great book called Free Your Breath, Free Your Life. Sounds cheesy, I know, but it makes a lot of sense. A combination of controlling stress/anxiety and breathing retraining may be the solution.

And, again, I highly recommend acupuncture.

Please, folks, continue posting if you find anything that works for this.

Here are some links on hyperventilation:
•         http://www.emedicine.com/emerg/TOPIC270.HTM
•         http://www.amazon.com/Free-Your-Breath-Life-Conscious/dp/1590301331 (the book I’m reading now)
•         http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1516-44462006005000048&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en
•     http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/120/4/855
Avatar universal
Thanks for the response. I read your emedicine article, and they referred to something called Diaphragmatic breathing. I'll probably try that before acupuncture. It says people with anxiety tend to breathe through their as opposed to their diaphragm. I've noticed the feeling I'm trying to satisfy by breathing deep is in the center of my chest. So possibly my lungs have become hyper inflated or something, who knows. Anyway, if anyone else wants to try this, here's some techniques:

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