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Respiratory Disorders Community
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Avatar universal

shortness of breath/frequent yawning

I am a 41 year old female with a 2 year old, in good health other than being about 10 pounds overweight. Two months ago I began experiencing shortness of breath. I yawn constantly in an attempt to get air. The doctor thought asthma, especially given my family history of lung problems, so though my lungs sounded clear I tried advair/albuterol.  No change in condition.
I had a ct scan to check for a pulmonary embolism and everything looked good. I have been taking previcid for 2 weeks to treat possible acid reflux, but there has been no change in my condition. I feel better when I sleep and wake up feeling great, only to have the sob return within a few hours.
A possibly relevant fact: the day before this started I was at yoga doing a twist when I felt a very, very sharp pain in my right side under my rib, along with a feeling as if a rubber band had been snapped in the same place. The pain was excruciating and traveled through my breast and shoulder, but was gone in a few minutes and I was able to continue class. Also, I was in the desert for a few days and it went away but returned about a week later. I fairly certain it isn't stress/anxiety as the trip out of town was not relaxing. The breathing seems better when I stand/worsens sitting down, and I may have been standing more than usual on the trip. I am feeling so frustrated, scared, and depressed.
251 Responses
Avatar universal
I posted a comment last night, but I don't see it here, so I'll try again.  I have had this for years on and off.  It seems like I have had every test out there and everything points to anxiety.  I feel that it has to be more than that as it gets worse with exercise.  I do not have anything wrong with my lungs...I've had several tests.  I am scheduled for an echocardiagram (picture of the heart), so we'll see.  I am not one who likes to complain or go to the doctor, but I have decided that I must pursue this to get to the bottom of it.  I should mention that I do have bouts with anxiety and depression, but I have been on meds for years and I still have this problem.  Once in awhile I take Ativan and it seems to help the SOB(but very little).  Just knowing that I am not the only one out there is comforting to know.  Any advice?  Thanks!!!
Avatar universal
These symptoms all sound so familiar.  In August I started having shortness of breath.  I'm 46.  I had a CT scan done on my lungs and found out I had a small clot in one lung.  After some blood thinners they said the clot is totally gone but I continue to have shortness of breath.  I
Avatar universal
I am getting pretty convinced that it is anxiety related.  I am now taking Ativan as needed, but sometimes, I need it a little more than others.  I exercise quite a bit and I notice I get symptoms if I am doing cardio sometimes.  What am I supposed to do? Sit quietly and never do anything?!  I've downloaded relxation cd's onto my ipod and I really have to be tired for them to work.  I just can't all of a sudden listen to them and expect to breathe perfectly!  It's so frustrating.  I am going to try eliminating certain foods out of my diet...like sugars, white flours, etc. and see how that works.  I know that sugar really affects me and being the holidays, it's pretty bad.  Feel free to respond. I could always use a friend who can really understand this maddness!!!
Avatar universal
I'm a 25 year old female. For the last week or so I've been yawning excessively so that I can breath. I've had shortness or breath and some joint discomfort. I've also been experiencing fatigue.

A doctor prescribed Prednisone for the joint pain. Maybe I'm reacting to that.

I exercise regularly and do not have a cough. Any ideas of what could be causing this problem.
Avatar universal
I am a 22 year old college student who has been dealing with exactly what you are all describing since I was very young. It comes and goes but for weeks at a time I will be struggling for breath, to the point of nervous breakdown. It used to get so bad that I would just start to cry, which makes the breathing worse. When I was a child I was mis-diagnosed with ashthma and used inhalers for years (which didn't help at all). I've had several ashthma tests since then but I'm always told its just anxiety. I admit that I do have increased symptoms during times a stress, like the weeks preceding important exams and such. But then at times when I feel completely de-stressed I will have weeks at a time when I just can't seem to get my lungs full of air. I try so hard to inhale and eventually all my muscles just get sore and it becomes painful. Tell me that's not stressful in itself? I've tried yoga but its distracting to yawn all the time. I have also tried therapy for anxiety but my therapist told me I didn't really need it that much. Is there absolutely nothing that can be done? I am so glad to hear that I am not the only person alive with these symptoms, no one ever seems to be able to relate. I sincerely hope that we can find some sort of treatment.

I do consume an average amt. of caffeine, but they don't seem to be related unless I'm already experiencing the symptoms.

Any advice?
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
I am 19 years old and i had brochitus about 2 months ago and it came back because i went back to smoking cigerettes. I quit once i felt the syptoms again and went to the doctor. My doctor gave me an inhaler and ive stopped smoking for a month or more now. The inhaler doesnt seem to be helping at all, and i constantly yawn to even feel like im getting enough oxygen into my lungs. I have shortness of breath alot and my lungs kinda hurt when i take deep breaths, and sometimes i get a pain in my shoulder blades but im not sure if that has anything to do with it. I do get anxiety and work myself up when i feel like im not breathing right because i want to feel a nice breath of air into my lungs so bad i get scared. It does not feel right, and then I go on google and read all these syptoms like lungs disease and so on and gets me even more scared. I am worried, i also never was diagnosed with asthma before so i dont know why my doctor gave me an inhaler. I want to get a lung x-ray or something I dont know what I should do. Wish someone could help me figure it out, i know your not all doctors if you have any advise that could help i would appreciate it.

Im worried :( i think i mentioned that quite a bit

-Brittney
Avatar universal
I'm a 54 yr old female, three weeks ago I went to an urgent care with a migraine and chest pain. I was given a pain shot and migraine meds. I went to my regular physician the next day and she
x-ray-ed my chest and told me I had a Bronchial infection, but the next day when I called to say the headache just kept coming back I was told I had pneumonia (pockets, nothing much to worry about).I went for another visit and she kept wanting to give me pain shots and put me on 750 mg LEVIQEN for 5 days, it's very harsh. Three weeks later I'm still  having  headache, nausea, and my chest hurts. Any activity causes heavy sweating and shortness of breath, and the chest pains have me worried to death. My head hurts behind my right eye and feels like a pounding in the top of my head. It's not typical of migraines I've had before. I'm  tired of meds and refused pain shots due to the fact that I believe they might mask any real symptoms of something else. I also worry that the pneumonia might be a secondary infection due to something she is unaware of. Needless to say, we really have to take care of ourselves and doctors are so busy I'm afraid they brush us off as soon as we leave. I've had 2 ct's of my head, and 3 chest x-rays and am told my lungs are clear and my head is ok. I feel like a hypochondriac and a much poorer one after all these visits.AND I"M STILL SICK !!!!  How long does it take to recover from pneumonia and what can I do to hasten the process? Thanks anyone, bevvie
Avatar universal
why isnt any one anwering me :(
Avatar universal
thanks to everyone for their input..I too am experiencing this sob. It started recently when my boyfriend and I strted having serious problems and alot of what I am reading  from everyone they mention anxiety attacks..so I'm thinking thats it. I told my doc and he did an ekg right away. I do smoke a pack a day but I have been doing that for 25 years (now I am 42) I have quit all other vices and I am ot ready yet to give up this one. Could it possibly be some type of an infection I wonder ? thanks again to everyone Eva
308441 tn?1196398801
28Male here,

I had the same complaints , and i went to Doctor with pain in my heart ? so everyone panics..which i really thought i was going down this time..but they did all types of tests and everything actually it was not my heart it was the Acid Reflux popping up!!!...I changed my Food to white meats , salads and stuff no more taco bell nor similars never again !! lost 30 pounds , i feel much better on breathing etc. Good luck to everyone
Avatar universal
i'm a 24yr old female in great shape and I too have been experiencing SOB and  frequent yawning for the past month or so...when i look back i think it started  in the last couple months but i didn't really pay attention to it until about a month ago when i was out clubbing, having a smoke (i'm only a casual smoker..when partying) and as i came back inside the club after the cigarette, all of a sudden i couldn't breath...like i would try and cath my breath but it would take quite some effort to get a full satisfying breath...and while at home or work i will yawn A LOT and that seems the best way for me to get that full breath...sometimes it's even hard to exercise which is kind of depressing as i loooove jogging...i also noticed when i do get a full breath i feel a kinda pressure or tingly feelng/numbness at the bottom of my left foot or sometimes my left palm..it's weird...i remember noticing that even before my full blown SOB episodes became really noticable...i went to the dr. and all the tests so far seem normal...i hate when they say it's anxiety or stress when i know exactly what symtoms of anxiety/pannic attacks feel like and this is definitely not it...i know my body and this happens to me all the time and last for hrs and has nothing to do with me being anxious...also inhalers that help open up your lungs don't seem to help...they only make me all messed up; irritated, jittery etc...i don't know what to do...i guess i'll go see my dr. again soon and see about doing more tests...it's frustrating that docors dont know what it is ...it seems like only ppl on these boards get what i'm going through...if only i knew what it is....sooo annoying to have to deal with this...i hope it goes away
Avatar universal
hey guys just wanted to say that i have been doing quite a bit of research and while i do think some of us may have some undiagnosed medical condtition, i think that many of us have what's called "chronic hyperventilation syndrome"...the symtoms really do match what a lot of us have complained about and one of the 1st symptoms listed (if you were to look up this condition) is shortness of breath for no apparent reason and frequent yawning...which would mean we are overbreathing without being aware of it...it's subconscious...while i do think most of us should get as many tests are necessary to be absolutely certain that it isn't some sort of other serious medical condition....i think that for those of us who find out that all test results keep coming back completely normal...it only makes sense to discuss chronic hyperventilation syndrome with our doctors...i really hope that's what it is bc for one it's not like it's some sort of life threatenning ilness and two we would finally know what's been bothering us this whole time..hope this helped
Avatar universal
I am a 50 year old female.  I have been reading everyone's comments about shortness of breath and can't believe how many people like me are out there with these symptoms.  I have had this feeling of air hunger that has been going on now for ten years.  It has been very debilitating and zaps my energy.  I've been to my doctor complaining of this - had lots of tests.  Pulmonary function (revealed normal lung function) and have undergone, on two separate occasions, heart tests as I also have been experiencing mysterious chest pain for the last four years.  Nothing came of the heart tests and my doctor is guessing the chest pain may be variant angina.  He did not indicate it was related to my air hunger.  It seems to come and go without any pattern.  I've had a very stressful life and sress and anxiety has been suggested however exercise (which is supposed to reduce stress) makes it worse.  Lately when I exercise, it wipes me out for days and will often bring on symptoms of air hunger if I have not been experiencing them.  I occasionally use Lorazapam (Ativan) which sometimes helps.  I looked up hyperventilation in a medical journal and a strategy suggested was breathing into a brown paper bag.  Didn't help - besides who can do that all day.  When I'm having a really bad go of the air hunger, I feel sick, my eyes hurt and I have chest tightness.  I am beginning to suspect it plagues me during sleep because sometimes I will wake up and my face will be vibrating.  At least that is my perception.  By reading everyone elses comments it seems that this is fairly common and there is no cure.  Are we that susceptible to stress.
180749 tn?1443598832
Do this exercise everyday and it will help all of you.Start with 5 minutes and increase gradually to the maximum.Come back to report how you are doing.
Anulom Vilom - Deep Breath-in through left nostril keeping right nostril closed
then - Breath-out through right nostril keeping left nostril closed
then -Deep Breath-in through right nostril keeping left nostril closed
then - Breath-out through left nostril keeping right nostril closed
and repeat this cycle for upto 30  minutes twice a day(maximum 60 min/day).
Avatar universal
I am 32 years old, a mom and an RN. I just wrote a very long comment here but lost it somehow on the computer. Pretty much it said that for some of you, you should look into heart problems as your cause.
I have SOB and was diagnosed with
Neurocardiogenic Syncopy
POTS
and had a heart ablation for an SVT (fast heart rate) of 250beats per min.
Once I had the heart ablation, i still have have SOB but it is much better.
I do get SOB still pretty severly after I drink alcohol or coffee. Write to me if you want to know more
Sara Irvine, Pennsylvania
PS, the breathing excercizes above are mostly to get your mind off of the problem. it very possibly will work.
Avatar universal
Forgot to mention: You may not even know that you are having a heart palpitation or racing heart rate. My symptoms I thought were respiratory related but come to find out that they were not.
These were my symptoms:
While standing still for more than a few minutes, I would get irritable, short of breath, yawned,restless, nervous, and sometimes feel my heart going fast. While exercising, my heart rate would sky rocket and I would feel faint and dizzy and really short of breath.
I had a friend who had similar symptoms and was a sports/exercise major in college. She was in turn diagnosed with Neurocardiogenic syncopy but not the other two diagnoses I mentioned. LOOK into IT! Only the heart Drs were able to really help me.
Avatar universal
As a non-smoking 43 year old woman I have struggled with the very frequent yawning and feeling of shortness of breath for over 20 years.  When first experiencing it all those years ago I, too, went to doctors and had all kinds of repiratory tests which showed that in fact I had "great" lung function.  All the emotions decribed above are all too familiar. In my case the "episodes" will come and go and I will get reprieves of months or sometimes years without a spell. The episodes last usually 1-2 months and wax and wane a bit in terms of severity. I'm undergoing a difficult episode these days which is why I am back searching for answers. Here are some thoughts:

1. sometimes getting up if sitting or going outside if inside can relieve an acute "attack"
2. distract, distract, distract yourself---seems to help when its really bad and you think you are losing your mind.
3. a suggestion from a forum several years back was to eliminate carbs in the diet. I have found this to definitely help but I have had to be really rigorous about it---cut out all the sweets, breads, rice etc. etc. you know the drill.  WHY this works I don't know. It seems to take a week or sometimes a little less before I see results but this has been the ONLY thing that has made a significant difference.  
4. milk seems to trigger it for me sometimes----or it might be coffee--anyway a latte can spell trouble if I've recently been having difficulty. Note: when not having an spell, latte's pose no problem.

So I hope some or all of these suggestions help SOMEONE out there. I know I was so grateful to learn about the no carbs thing years ago. I wish the medical community would look at the common threads here and take this disorder seriously.  It seems too simple to just attribute it to anxiety. For myself I've had spells during very relaxing periods of my life and no spells during periods of mild, moderate and extremely high stress and vice versa. Though I can appreciate that anxiety is an easy method to explain this away it simply doesn't ring true for me.
Avatar universal
I just turned 60 yrs. old and started having the shortness of breath and yawning symptoms about 2 months ago.  I went to the ER and was admitted, having had numerous heart tests, cat scans, blood work done.  All doctors concluded it was due to chiropractic treatments that I had for my back.  The chiropractor manipulated my stomach muscles during each treatment to where it caused discomfort but said it was necessary to facilitate my weak stomach muscles. They all said it would take awhile for my stomach muscles to heal and that I had to be patient.  So I was sent home not feeling any better than when I was admitted.  Had an endoscopy done to check for hiatal hernia, ulcer but all came back normal.  Was given medication for acid reflux, which I felt I didn't have, and that didn't help, either.  I feel so much better when I sleep, but after awakening within an hour I'm feeling the shortness of breath.  I have mitral valve prolapse and thinking my problem might be related to MVP, took medication which didn't help, either.  I am frustrated like everyone else and am happy to know it's not "all in my head".  Our dog died in October and I am missing him terribly, so my husband thinks it's the anxiety of losing Nicky. Sometimes I think it can be anxiety because like someone else stated, when I am engrossed in a project, I feel fine.  Maybe talking to a therapist might help.  There may be some underlying situation that we are not aware of that is bothering us and we are feeling the effects of it through the shortness of breath.   I hope there is someone out there who can give us more solutions to this very frustrating problem.  
Avatar universal
I am so glad to hear I am not crazy.  All these comments are exacty what is happening to me.  Sometimes I feel that I can not take anymore.  I have had every test and everything is working fine but yet I can not breathe.  Coffee and eating cause my breathing to get worse.  Has anyone out there found out what all this is?  I have been taking Valium because even though I can not breathe it makes me not worry about it as much.  
Avatar universal
Hello everyone i also have all of the above i am 25 years old and up untill 2 years ago i was really into my football and sports, i am a non smoker and weigh about 12 stone (6feet 2 inches high). Its like i cant get to the bottom of my breath and when exercising it gets so bad i have had to stop. Eating also seems to bring it on worse but generally its there all the time from the minute i get up to the minute i go to bed. I was told by the doctor that i could have reflux disease so went on a series of tests and found out i had. I have now had reflux surgery and the problem is still there just as bad if not worse. If so many of us have this problem why do none of the doctors know what it is. All i want to do is get back on with my life but i cant because this restricts me from doing so much. If ANYONE has any info i would be very gratefull to hear from you thanks Joe.
Avatar universal
im a 24 y/o male, i felt the symptoms lately....exessive yawn and shortness of breath...i think drinking alcohol also comtributes to it..not to mention eating too much fatty foods....anyways, may we all overcome this....]

                                                                                                             mykhel - Philippines
460762 tn?1206477197
I have these exact same problems with breathing, air hunger and trouble taking in a full breath.  I have been checked out with every possible test and they tell me I am as healthy as a horse - its all anxiety.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.  HVS (hyperventilation syndrome) sounds like the most plausible cause and the TREATMENT is EDB (effortless diaphragmatic breathing).  There are therapists at most big hospitals that will teach this. Check out www.behavioral-medicine.com and read the article on effortless diaphragmatic breathing.  Hope this helps someone!!
Avatar universal
HI I'M 29, THIS HAS HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE BECAUSE OF STRESS BUT NOT QUITE SO CONSISTANT, THIS TIME IT'S ALL DAY.  IT STARTED SUNDAY (IT'S FRIDAY NOW).
I WAKE UP IN THE MORNING AND I'M FINE - TOTALLY FINE AT NIGHT AS WELL - BUT A COUPLE HOURS IN TO MY MORNING IT COMES BACK... SOMETIMES I WONDER IF BECAUSE I THINK ABOUT IT.  I CAN HEAR MY THROAT WEEZE WHEN I'M INHALING... I THINK IT'S STRESS. BUT IT'S HARD TO CHILL WHEN YOU CAN'T !#@&ING BREATH.
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