Avatar universal

Can't take a deep breath without yawning.

I have had this problem for years.  I sometimes can't take a deep breath without yawning.  I feel as if, even though a take a nice clean breath, that it's not deep enough, like I'm just missing a full complete breath.  After struggling to take a full breath I finally hold me head, arm, whatever, in the right position and yawn where I'm then able to take a complete full breath.  This feels wonderful for a couple of minutes, then the cycle starts over again, only able to take a full breath after yawning.  

Letely it's really bad, as I wake up in the middle of the night after three or four hours sleep and cannot get a deep breath unless I stand up.  Of course once I lay back down it all starts over again and I eventually just get up.  I'm now on 3-4 hours of sleep a night, and it's beyond awful.  

I tried to find out what was causing this, trying to remember what changes were aking place around me when the symptoms appear.  Was it allergies?  Did it only happen when something was in bloom?  Being around pets, etc.  I really couln't keep track of what it might be, as once the symptoms go away I stopped thinking about it.  I went to different sites like this one and was glad (in a way) to find that there were other people with the exact same problem.  This made a lot of the anxiety over this go away.  There were nights when I lay awake at night trying to take a deep breath wondering if this was my last few days on earth which made the terror of dying that much worse.  

One thing I was pretty sure of was that it was mostly, if not all psychological.  I say this because I was playing a board game once with my family and noticed that, until I actually thought of the breathing problem it went away.  If I was playing tennis and forgot about it, it went away, only to return the moment I said to myself, "Hey, I'm not doing that breathing thing."  Then it started.  Snag is, I don't think I have an anxiety problem.  And has anyone on here taken anti-axiety medication and had the problem go away?  Did it work for hem and hey, like me, forgot about it once it went away?  

So, since no one seems to know anything and is making lots of weird guesses as to what could be making this stuff happen, I would like to make all my dopey ideas to what I think is happening.  Maybe the answer is one of these, keeping in mind I don't really know what the hell I'm talking about.  These are in the order that I think is most likely the cause.

1.   Anxiety.  Stop thinking about it and it goes away.  Trouble is you CAN'T stop thinking about it.  Since humans adapt to get around things that bring hem displeasure, eventually it goes away.

2.   A slightly pulled muscle in your back.  If you pull a back muscle, sometimes you don't know it's pulled.  It takes awhile to heal and causes something to prevent you from taking a deep breath.  Not the kind of stinging back pain, but more the kind that happens when you injure a muscle and it's stopped sting but hasn't heled yet.  I say this because my latest bought started when I added back muscles to my workout routine.  I was taking the drug Androgel and figured that since I was taking testosterone I'd might as well work out, since it's like an anabolic steroid.  I got much bigger, even though from research I've done there's no way that it can have anabolic steroid effects.  This would explain why it goes away after awhile, as it takes about three weeks for a muscle that been pulled to heal.  This would also explain why I can take deep breath when I prop myself up with a pillow when sleeping but can't get a deep breath while on my side.  

3.  A lot of people mention research into not geting enough magnesium.  I started taking that now too.  

There's more of course, but just keep reading and you can try other things.  The main thing I'm wondering is this:  Is anyone out there doing tests or research on this?  Has anyone tried something that worked and hasn't bothered to come back here and tell us?  Do certain drugs work?  Hormonal imbalance?  Why am I able to take an instant deep breath once I step into cold outside air, or when I sand up to use the bathroom at night?   If anyone can put in links to sites that seem to have any relevence please do that.  Mostly it's just an endless stream of people describing the exact same problem with absolutely no answers.  Do health professionals or researchers read these posts?  If so can they refer us to someone that might know something?  It might be my imagination but it seems that a couple of times I've read posts like these and felt a lot better right away since so many mentioned how it might be psychological.  Once I stopped thinking that it wasn't some weird cancer eating my lungs up it went away.  

19 Responses
Avatar universal
Well, it got so bad I went to the doctor.  I was laying awake at night and sleeping 3-4 hours a night.  I walkd around like a zombie from lack of sleep and wasn't really myself.  I explained to the doctor everything I said above, in my post.  He had a nurse bring in a cart to check my heart.  She hooked up a bunch of electrode type things to my chest and legs.  That came out fine.  He then told me it was almost certainly anxiety and stress and asked me what was going on in my life to cause it.  My answer was ruthful- nothing.  Work is fine, I'm exercising, nothing major going on.  Bottom line is he gave me a prescription for Xanax.  I'm one of those people that rails against the way that doctors give out pills willy-nilly for anyone that comes in feeling anything but perfect.  

Here's the snag:  I took one that night and slept like a baby.  I felt absolutley no side effects what so ever.  The only effect it has is making my anxiety go away so I don't have these mini panic attacks, or whatever they are.  I didn't want to end up like certain coworkers I work with that seemed to be zombied out with glassy eyes all the time on thier happy pills, but I guess they take Prozac or something, but these things don't seem to have any affect on me at all other than making the weird breathing thing I do go away.  

I don't want to get addicted to these things, so last night I didn't take one to see if it would all go away.  I felt MUCH better and said to myself how silly the whole thing was and how it's strange how this was all in my mind (which I suspected) and not some allergy or moon phase, or something.  During the last three days I've felt absolutely wonderful.  Well, I woke up at three o'clock in the morning to pee and went back to bed where the whole thing started again.  Now I don't know what to do.  I'm going to experiment with taking them for two weeks and see if that sets a pattern where it'll get my body used to sleeping all night.  Frankly I wouldn't mind being addicted to them if it'll make the (what I guess must be unconsious) stress.  I mean, it's only eight dollars a bottle.  I'm also going to try to learn transcendental meditation to see if that helps, and I'm taking magnesium every day on the off chance that that does anything.  
Avatar universal
I've had the same problem since I was very young. I never feel like I can take a deep enough breath, it feels as if my throat is swollen shut, and I yawn constantly (on purpose) because it makes the feeling go away momentarily. I actually went to the emergency years ago because I felt that the breathing problem was so severe that I couldn't handle it and I was going to die. I was diagnosed with anxiety and put on Xanax. I've been on the medication for over 7 years and to tell the truth, it has helped, and I don't have any major side effects or feel the need to increase my dosage. I've tried to wean myself off and I take magnesium supplements also. It does not help. If I stop taking the medications, the symptoms come back. Lately, I've been experiencing the same breathing problems (still on Xanax), but I just don't know why. I am not stressed unless it is subconscious, like you said. I don't feel like it's an anxiety problem. Wish there were more answers out there.
5617861 tn?1436212493
I have the same problem as earnestbunbury has and its happening to me from 2 months and it really make me worried . whenever i share it with my friend or any family member he says that its your Doubt but when it really started irritating me so i have joined this website and i come to know my problems seems like the symptoms of sleep Apnea or maybe its something else can anyone please tell me what is it Exactly happening ?
Avatar universal
STOP WASTING MONEY GOING TO THE DOCTORS .    Had this for 2 years after food poisoining in Iraq . It feels like you need to take a full breath , but you just cant .Also it  WAS hard to yawn and heart burn. It felt like I had a knot in my chest that wouldnt let me take a full breath . Sometimes I had to bend down to take a full breath it was hoorrible I spent 2 years gointo different doctors . Taking all kind of meds from like Nexium ,Zyrtec medicataion for astma . Finnaly one doctor gave me samples of Prilosec and all these symptoms disappered in 3 hours I keept taking prilosec for 2 weeks and I dont have the symptoms to these days (its been 8 Years ) - See more at: http://www.*************.com/heart-disease/c/37627/40767/unable-deep/#sthash.cgMcFus3.dpuf
I heard the same thing and at my physical exam yesterday my doc recommended Zantac for reflux to help it. I don't even feel the reflux but he said it is common to have it and not know it.
Avatar universal
I have had this same problem for years and I finally found out what was going on. I (and I imagine everyone in this discussion) have something called "Hyperventilation Syndrome." Basically, over the years, we have learned to stop breathing deep in our bellies, as all newborns do, and learned to breathe in our chest's. Most of the time this is completely unconscious. Anxiety CAN exacerbate this, but most likely would go completely unnoticed.

Before you say "Its not anxiety! I've tried every antidepressant and gotten all of the tests and nothing came back!" I would tell you that I did the same thing, and it all came back clear. Not being able to breathe and not knowing why is probably one of the most terrifying feelings there is and there have been many times where I have just wanted to take a swan dive over a high bridge. But believe me, there is a solution. First of all, realize that you absoloutely are getting enough air. That is not the problem. You will not die from this. The reason you feel like you are constantly out of breathe is because you are expelling too much carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is essential for maintaining oxygen levels; so when you don't have enought CO2, your brain realizes this, and attempts to take in more air, giving you that "air hunger" feeling. All you have to do to cure yourself of this is to relearn how to do belly-breathing. Google "Buteyko Method". It is excellent. Also check out the book Hyperventilation Syndrome by Dinah Bradley. Believe me when I tell you that it works and once you learn how to do this you will be fine. Sorry to everyone who is going through this horrible feeling. When it was at its worst, I literally felt like I was suffocating. If you find yourself panicking, just remember - you're expelling too much CO2. The best way to fix this is to breathe "low and slow". Lie on your back and breathe deep into your belly, as slowly as you can. Your chest shouldn't move at all. At first, it will feel very incomfortable; this is because your brain still feels like it needs more air. But what you are doing is slowly restoring the CO2, which will in turn modulate your oxygen. As I am writing this it sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but believe me it works. If you can't trust some random dude posting on this forum, and who would blame you if you couldn't, then just google "Hyperventilation syndrome" and try the deep belly breathing. You should also go for brisk walks and ONLY breathe through your nose. Never your mouth. Every time you breathe through your mouth you are expelling more CO2 and thus receiving less oxygen. I hope this works. It did for me.
Avatar universal
For anyone that sees this I hope this helps. This sensation truly is an affliction.
That is all it is, a sensation.

I have been down this road for 12 years. Its been a living nightmare. It has caused me chest pain, headaches, dizziness and lastly convinced me I had COPD.

I also had asthma as a child and smoked socially for 12 years. One day I woke up with an asthma attack and couldn't get a deep breath. The asthma cleared but that deep breath symptom remained with me for many many years.

My excersise tolerance was good. My pulmonary function above average and yet I spent '000's on doctors trying to resolve this. I also went on inhalers for 10 years.

Heres my advice:
1. Get your heart and lungs checked early
2. Take up some sort of excercise that winds you
3. Stop breathing through your mouth
4. Relax
5. We sigh 4 - 5 times an hour, I guarantee if you have this problem you are sighing or yawning every minute or so
6. Lie on your back, breath in with your diaphragm, let your stomach fall and naturally exhale, do this for 5 or 10 minutes, the problem will go away
7. If you still believe this isn't Anxiety or Stress take a Xanax, it goes away I promise
8. You need to train yourself to stop seeking deep breaths, when you go to take in a deep breath, swallow instead.
10 Lastly if you smoke, stop

For those who think they have COPD I have been told by a top Pulmo people don't even realise they have COPD until the FEV1 / FVC drops below 70%. This condition is not a symptom of COPD. Being breathless during excercise is.

Avatar universal
I have the exact same problem.. I've fainted multiple times and I have been to many doctors. My iron levels were low, which explained the fainting. My breathing issue won't go away. I've been given an inhaler but nothing works. I'm very young which concerns me, maybe this is severe. :(
Avatar universal

I just wanted to let anyone here who is still struggling with this know that I have cured it -- I used a very simple technique called the Buteyko Method. The problem has absolutely vanished. Basically, the reason all of us cannot seem to get a deep breath, is because we are breathing TOO MUCH. I know, it feels like we aren't breathing enough, and we are dying for air. But its the opposite, I assure you. One thing you can do right now if you are reading this is lay down on your left side on your bed, and, ONLY breathing through your nose, try to breath as little as possible. You will feel a shortness of breath at first -- don't make yourself uncomfortable. But do try to breathe less for ten minutes. You should do this with the aim of breathing so lightly that your can't even hear yourself breathing. Let the belly rise naturally and calmly, but slow slow slow down your breathing and try to make it light as a feather. Make it so you are breathing so little and so lightly. See how you feel. A brief explanation of what is happening:

Do you know how in the old TV shows like "Friends" when someone was hyperventilating, they would just hand them a paper bag and they would calm down? Did you ever wonder why this would work? Its the same principle: When you are hyperventilating, you are breathing TOO MUCH. And you get very out of breath, and then you fee like you can't breathe! The reason that the paper bag trick is what they used to do, is that it controls how much oxygen you are getting. Right now, when you over breathe, you take in way too much oxygen. Your whole system is getting screwed up. When you breathe into a bag, you are restoring some lost CO2 and briefly limiting your Oxygen uptake. This sounds crazy, but its what is happening. And please don't use the paper bag trick; people have died from it. Look up something called Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome on google. It will tell you a lot; unfortunately, none of the Doctors I went to seemed to know anything about it, or more importantly, what to do about it. So after living in aboslute hell for over a year, I took a class on Buteyko Breathing, which is a fancy name for just learning to breathe less, and the problem vanished completely. I am so happy now, so free, sometimes tears come to my eyes when I think about how awful I felt, so scared and uncertain and panicking. All of this has gone away. And all you have to do is learn to breathe less. I promise. There are of course many other ways to reduce your breathing, such as: Jogging, with your mouth CLOSED!!! ONLY ONLY ONLY breathe through your nose from now on, OK? I know it feels uncomfortable at first, but you will feel so much better. When you exercise (and this can simply be a brisk walk) whatever you do don't breathe through your mouth! Later on, when you have recovered, you will be able to. But for now, never every do it! One of the things that Dr. Buteyko, the guy who came up with this technique, says is that you should breathe through your mouth as often as your eat through your nose. I.E. Never lol.

I am so sorry that you are going through this. It is by far the worst feeling I have ever had. But you will get better! Just remember: you are OVERBreathing right now.

Email me anytime if you would like my further suggestions about this. I know how much it ***** and how totally euphoric I feel now every day after learning this techniquw. Email anytime. ***@**** -Will
Avatar universal
Thank you so much. I feel like there is hope!! I have been where many on here have been and felt - feeling like i'm going to die, waking up in the middle of the night multiple times with panic attacks, feeling like the doctors do nothing....all they have told me is that it's anxiety and they want to give me drugs.  Your post literally has done more for me than any other pill or doctor.
I knew it had something to do with breathing too much....but every time I try and slow my breathing down I feel like i'm not getting enough air, I panic, and the cycle repeats itself. I FINALLY just stuck it out and was able to control my breathing - it was so uncomfortable to do the breathing thing you talked about for 10 minutes on my side on my bed....at first I felt like I was going to die because I wasn't getting enough breath, but I trusted what you were saying and I stuck it out and it's helping me right now! I did it for 10 minutes and afterwards I was even able to take a deep breath without yawning. That hardly EVER happens.

I'm pregnant, so my anxiety about this issue of mine has increased a ton. I have not only been waking up in the middle of the night feeling like i'm going to die, but that my baby isn't getting air and is going to die too. It's terrifying. The hardest part for me I think is going to be learning to only breath through my nose. It's very common for pregnant women to have nasal congestion all throughout their pregnancy.
Avatar universal
Hi, I read your post. I am curious if your problem has come back or not. We all seem to share the same symptoms, except you had heartburn. So Prilosac works for that. I don't have heartburn but this breathing issue is over the top annoying, and I pray it goes away. Just curious how you are doing a year later.. Thanks
Avatar universal
You might have silent reflux, that what I think is causing this same issue for me, only motility drugs combined with nexium seem to be moderately helpful.. but its still a big issue if I don't watch my diet
Avatar universal
Its funny but i had the same problems breathing and needing to constantly yawn....then I took Nextium for 3 weeks and i never felt better..for me I also have an irregular heartbeat problem and constant heartburn.
Avatar universal
Have your doctor check you for a B12 deficiency.  I had this problem for about 5 years and due to some other symptoms I was diagnosed with low B12 levels. It took a while but my symptoms went away after 6-7 months of taking B12 supplements.

The lower levels of the B12 "normal" range in the US are also too low.  The normal range is about 200 - 900 and you should supplement your B12 if your levels are lower than 500-550.  My level was 295 and my primary care doctor thought I was fine.  Another doctor said I should take B12 since my levels were in the low normal range.  Google B12 deficiency for more information.
Avatar universal
I know there's a long shot of you reading this, but I am now experiencing exactly what you described. Ever find any relief?
I'm experiencing the same thing as you are we need to work together and figure this out. Please help me.
Avatar universal
I have the same problem. But along with occasional trouble swallowing and some heartburn. I'm a 22 year old female, 125 pounds.
Recently told i have acid reflux. So far have only taken tums(bit much help at all)
I have an edoscopy appointment in December. And going to also try to get an xray or ANYTHING checked in the meantime. I will come back and update as soon as I get any results back. I know it's a frustrating and anxiety inducing symptom.
Avatar universal
I also have experienced this over the years. I finally just went to the doctor and mine was due to severe post nasal drip. My doctor suggested Claritin and Flonase. After three days I feel so much better! I literally thought I was going to die when this was happening to me so i hope this answer can help someone reading this ..
Avatar universal
Albuterol works wonders for this problem.
Avatar universal
I  thought I was going crazy. I thought I was the only one experiencing this.  I am so thankful to have come across this thread. I've tried all the suggestions and they worked!  I didn't want to believe this  psychological  But.....  The least  I thought about it and the more I concentrated  on light , shallow  breaths through my nose, the better I got.   It's getting better one day at a time, thank you all so much.
It's crazy, isn't it?  Man, the power of the brain!!!!  
Avatar universal
I had the same isue and dont worry I thought it will never go bla bla,then I realised only thing that was obstructing my breathing was me lol,this started for mee when I started smoking weed(alot) solution to this is realy simple(i know that I sound like I know everything lol but trust me) what u need to doo is breathe lol,yea I know its sounds stupid and after like 20 doctors telling my im healthy,u need to breathe normaly resist the urge to take deep breaths or yawn no mather what,don't worry u wont die,after 2 3 weeks of normal and light breathing it will become habit like as the yawning did and u will breathe normal again,but remember no mather what no.mather how satisfing that deep breath is dont take it,just breathe normaly and it will help,it did for me,leet me know if I helped you w
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