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Gasping for breath while awake

For several months I have been experiencing gasping for breath while I am awake.  I will be breathing normally and suddenly my chest heaves and I take a fast, almost alarming, gasp of air. This happens while sitting calmly, walking, or laying down. It is not related to active or stressful behaviors.  I am a male, age 59, weighing about 190lb, and about 5' 11''.  I know I have sleep apnea and it has been diagnosed as being central sleep apnea as opposed to obstructive sleep apnea.  I use a bipap machine, but I am asking about gasping for breath while awake.   I don't notice stopping breathing just prior to the gasp.  I don't know if this is lung related, heart related, or central nervous system related.  It feeling alot like a stroung hiccup, but involves a gasp.   It has happened twice while I typed this, but I can go hours and not experience one of these gasps.  Any ideas?
12 Responses
144586 tn?1284669764
Yes. My idea is for you to head for an emergency room.

There about a zillion possibilities, including space aliens.

One possible cause is a great big clot that periodically interupts blood flow in the vessel that leads to the lungs. This causes sudden inexplicable air hunger. These clots can develop in healthy person due to dehydration, inactivity, or perhaps a co-factor involving low vitamin K levels. If this is the case (and I don't know it is) you will end up in a cemetary, so don't let the situation go.

There are lots of other cardiac related and lung related possibilities.

These symptoms are nothing to fool with.  The etiology must be identified.

There is no conceivable way to do this via an internet posting board.

I would suggest an evaluation at a teaching hospital, where a student takes your case under the supervision of a mentore.
144586 tn?1284669764
You could also have a simple case of walking pneumonia, which could be resolved with zithromax. Your problems are a typical presentation.
Avatar universal
I have the same thing. I seem to forget to take in a breath and when my O2 levels get too low, or my CO2 gets too high (I don't know which), I gasp. Happens day or night and is annoying at night because I am woken up. I have had this for sixty years. I would like to stop doing this at night. It does not bother me in the daytime. Anyone have any ideas?
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The same thing happens to me. It's like I forget to breathe and then gasp for air. It's very embarrassing when other people are around, as it's very noticeable. I wish someone could provide a clue here. .
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I have done this all my life. Freaks everyone out but me :)
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I have learned that breathing under water fixes the issue....
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What do you mean? sorry i dint get you!! how can you breathe under water??
Avatar universal
Have you had a sleep study. I have a c-paper because I hold my breathe while I sleep.
Avatar universal
It is called Arnol breathing having 2 do with a few possibilities. 1.stress .even if u don't think u r stressed. 2.An early sign you have a blood clot in lungs-in Arteries-or are very close 2 a stroke or 3.a heart attack. NOTHING 2 PLAY WITH. Get to A PULMONARY DR. OR ER & Tell them you have these concerns. It is life-Threatening if the actual cause is not diagnosed. JUST GOOGLE "WHAT ILLNESS IS IT WHEN YOU GASP FOR AIR UNINTENTIONALLY. There are quite a few videos & Articles that will explain it THOROUGHLY. I JUST DEVELOPED IT & SCARED THE BEEZEEB EZ out of me. Besides being annoying and worrying about what it is causes stress & makes it WORSE.
1 Comments
SORRY TYPO IT IS CALLED AGONOL BREATHING
Avatar universal
It's not really the same as agonal breathing because with agonal breathing your respirations are your regular and ineffectual and the Gasping type of breathing happens over and over again until the reason is discovered such as a person with a tracheotomy on a ventilator can develop subcutaneous emphysema and is placed in bed with his head all the way down and the air will move from the pleural cavity and hopefully out through the leak that caused it. When a person has an MI or a stroke and the respiratory centers of the brain are affected he may have agonal breathing which is ineffective and requires rescue breathing to ventilate him. I have had this sudden gasping for air for about 2 years and it occurred spontaneously not in relation to any illness that I'm aware of. If my mouth is closed I take a sudden huge deep breath through my nose that sounds like a horse breathing. Unlike agonal breathing, it's just one breath  and then I return to normal breathing. It only happens a few times a day and it's when I'm totally at rest and there's no reason for it. There is no loss of consciousness or altered mental status. But when I was taking a drink of my juice with a straw a few minutes ago the involuntary gas happened and I sucked the juice down into my lungs and it was very very painful. Now I have to continually lean over and cough and I keep coughing up more and more of the juice. That is the dangerous side of this. It has nothing to do with stopping breathing because I'm not stopping and I'm not sick and I don't have COPD I don't have any issues that I know of and that's why I came to the internet to try to find out why this is happening to me. If anyone does find out, and I intend to research it further, please post your finding so we will all know. Thank you Brenda G.
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For some reason when I posted this it put in all of those symbols anytime I referred to myself like I'm or I've or I know. That was really weird I don't know why it did that
Avatar universal
Hey i am a 14 year old female that struggles with the same thing it started happening in may of this year and we have been to 12 different Dr's for it and it is not anything to do with your lungs or heart and i did some research  on (RSD) and i have all the symptoms of it so we will be trying to find out if that is what it is.
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