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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.
119 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.
Hello there, constant searching on the web led me here. I am experiencing exactly the same for more than 2 weeks now. and with the current situation of this global virus, it really adds up to become anxious. all my medical tests came out normal which was great and all but I still have this urge to always take a deep breath
Hi there.  If you are having shortness of breath, I really urge you to seek medical attention. AT least call your doctor to report this.  I know that being tested right now is scary in itself, like going into the danger zone. But you should touch base with your doctor.  Do you by any chance think anxiety is playing a role here?  I am nervous and I feel like it is making me have negative vision of all that is going on with me!  
I have the same problem I noticed my lungs felt really cold one day then after a few weeks now I feel u always want to take a deeper breath , lungs a clear one day I’m fine next day I feel terrible again  yet oxygen level seems to be fine ... been happening now for several weeks ....
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.
Yes I do find it seems to be worse when the heat and humidity starts rising. I am 53 years old and started noticing this happening back in the spring of 2009. It seems as though it starts every year it happens in the late spring/early summer. I live in the south so the humidity is out of the roof. I think that triggers it plus thinking about it makes it worse. I've also noticed in the winter it doesn't seem to do it nearly as bad or even at all.
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!
Do you think anxiety is causing this ?
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.
Was one of your symptoms shortness of breath ? Or laboured breathing ?
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:

Avatar universal
By the way, I left a word out there CHEST. Anxious people tend to breathe more through their chest. Also women who are self conscious about their waist, or wear tight binding clothes around their waist.

Diaphragmatic breathing is working so far. Actually, it started working the second I tried it while at my desk at work. Soon, I think this breathing will feel natural.

My doctor took chest Xrays, and listened to me breathe when this first started, and never mentioned that I might be breathing WRONG.

I suggest everyone try this if you are experiencing these symptoms. I'm sleeping better, and the one thing I was anxious about (my constant deep breathing and yawning) is subsiding. I'm going to start a workout program soon, I'm hopeful that will help my breathing as well.


Good luck to anyone going through this, I know it *****. If you have exactly what I had, I think you can fix it naturally.
1189615 tn?1264579740
I'm a 28 year old smoker for about 15 years. About a week ago, I was cleaning around the house and noticed every couple of minutes I felt this sudden urge to yawn. Well, I figured I had over worked myself  cleaning and thought it would pass. Well, here I am a week since then still having the same problem. Every couple of minutes I get this unstoppable urge to inhale as deep as I can or to Yawn. Sometimes my yawns or deep breaths are successful and sometimes they are not. It's very exhausting! The cycle is neverending. I am not struggling to breath and can carry on a conversation fine. I am also not overweight. There is no wheezing. I don't have allergies. I am not coughing, no runny nose, and no sinus problems. But, it's still going on. I have tried over the counter inhalants which haven't helped. I even tried decongestants thinking maybe I had a bug and didn't realize it. This has scared me so bad that I quit smoking cold turkey. I had my oxygen level tested to see if I am getting enough oxygen and it's at 100%?! I am really scared! Every family member and friend thinks it's just an  anxiety attack but this is way to physical! I am not stressed either. In fact I have had my fair share of stress and never ever had anything like this happen. I don't know if it's paranoia but I am even noticing a little stiffness deep in my throat when I do yawn. I feel so stupid when I explain it outloud, but I really feel like there is something really wrong with me! Please help me! Anyone!
o no your not stupid ifeel exactly word-to-word same condition.dont know what to do .doc is saying everything is fine but still have it.
Avatar universal
I personally think its just a form of anxiety. I suffered from what you describe in my 20s, i do suffer from anxiety so i know now that that's what it was.
You need to learn to breath so your stomach rises and not your chest exhaling all the air out of your lungs, make the exhale longer than the inhale. Its hard to do at first but over time you wont think about it. It still can happen to me now and then especially when i hear other people describe it as it brings back the old feelings but i can quite easily get rid of it now. Im a smoker too and it probably doesn't help. Try cutting right down rather than going cold turkey at first and see how you feel.
Avatar universal
Alright this is going to sound like an echo of everyone else, but I've had the same problem! I've been wondering if it isn't from the fact that I tend to get anxious and stress a lot. I've thought about doing meditation and listening to a relaxation cd while I'm doing it. With how many people are afflicted with this I have no doubt any advice would be much appreciated.
Avatar universal
I've had this problem my whole adult life -- I'm 51-yr-old woman.  I finally figured that for me, at least, it's worse when I ovulate (no help to men, I know).  When I was pregnant with my first child, problem pretty much went away; I had it somewhat with second pregnancy, but not bad.  Seems to be much worse as I approach menopause.  Mine is usually acccompanied by upper back pain, usually on the right side; that hasn't always been the case.
Avatar universal
So it's been a while since I've posted, but I wanted to share my recent experience in trying to fix this. I TRULY believe the majority of us are experiencing the results of poor breathing technique. As beefgun mentioned, we are all likely not practicing true diaphragmatic breathing.

I have since had several eye-opening sessions at an integrative health center. I had two one-on-one yoga sessions and a meeting with a counselor. Both practitioners gave me very specific movements and a series of exercises to help re-learn how to breath and to become more aware of how I am breathing. It has HELPED TREMENDOUSLY! They have also prescribed regular movement classes, such as Tai Chi, which I haven't started yet, but hope to add to my arsenal of defenses against poor breathing.

The counselor impressed on me multiple times that MOST people do not breathe correctly.

I have had results. It has not been quick, but it has been dramatic. It does require a willingness to devote daily concentration on fixing it, but it is definitely life-changing, so I stringly recommend seeking the help of some experienced yoga or tai chi practitioners, or seeing out an integrative health clinic that can send you to the right people in your area.
Avatar universal
Its anxiety. possibly brought on with something irretating the throat or lungs. i bet you only feel like this when ur not really doing anything, and never feel it when ur drunk or having a good time or really concentrating. dnt let ur minds run wild ur not going to stop breathing!. ur body will pass out first to take bk control of ur breathing caused by panic and anxiety. try and get some high dose antihistamines they should do the trick with any allergies and anxiety. failing that pregablin or any of the benzo's will do the job. i suffered with this for years. crazy wat the mind can do. obviously these are meds u should discuss with ur doc but i started wi the antihistamines then pregablin and hav been anxiety free for 12 months+. with no meds
Avatar universal
Smoking and hangovers aggrevate anxiety. giv ur body and mind a rest from anxiety and for most people it will go away. exercise and plenty of fluids also help. Ino its hard especially without meds but try and relax and remember that any medication is for short term there is no magic pill that will make anxiety dissapear forever without other more complicated side effects. So some of the techniques above are definatly worth a try.
Avatar universal
Hi i am also so glad to hear that i am not the only one with this symtom i have have xrays and all of the above for this issue. I strongly agree with the anxiety bieng the main issue .... i do smoke but the doctor says my lungs look fine so i am just going to relax and stop worrying about this issue and see what happens .. i would also like to add or better yet ask when i wake up i find i dont have the symptoms untill i think about it and then they start up for example i think about it well im having my shower and by the time i walk out the door its has started again .. i was curious if anyone here also had that. Ty everyone again
Avatar universal
I have been having this problem with wanting to frequently take a deep breath..it feels good somehow and I suspect it may be Anxiety..

But they say that deep breaths are good for your cells, brain, etc.  So, it may not be a bad thing ..
Avatar universal
I have had the urge to yawn and not being satisfied. deep breaths nothing i feel so stupid at work or in public when I'm trying to get a deep breath and I'm so tired of people telling me go to bed at night because all i do is yawn or try to yawn all day just to feel like i'm getting oxygen. I'm a nurse and I'm constantly checking my o2 sats and they r always good. I too have been to the Dr. he says it's anxiety I really believe it is even if u dont feel anxious. I notice I will get releif when I dont pay attention to it (which is not very often) also I sleep good at night and wonder why is it when I'm sleeping my breathing is good but when i'm awake it feel like i'm smoothering! Because when I'm sleeping I'm not thinking about it. Yet I still feel like this EVERDAY!!! Sometimes I feel like I'm gonna lose it! Hope someone can figure all this out so we can all get relief!! It's such a horriable feeling!!
i get the same issue like you.  Have you found out what causing it?
i get the same issue like you.  Have you found out what causing it?
Avatar universal
I think I have a solution!  I've had this only a couple times in my life, and just recently for the past five days. I've had the same feelings, not getting enough air or a satisfying breath, the need to keep yawning which only one out of many times gives that good satisfying breath. Yes it causes anxiety as it is a horrible feeling.  I believe the answer is not in doctors, scripts, and endless tests. I think everyone needs a chiropractic adjustment. I've read only one post on several sites that said they got relief from this. It worked for me. I think nerves get impinged on the spine. The spine regulates all body processes.  I've been to a chiropractor many times in my life (I'm 54 and overweight), but not for many years. My brother gave me an adjustment (right or wrong it gave me relief) as I can't afford the chiropractor as they must take x-rays first. If you can't afford one as many insurances don't cover these docs (which is a shame!), then have someone hold you from behind in a standing position like they are giving you a 'bear hug' from behind, cross your arms over your chest and have them bear hug you putting their arms under your crossed arms. The "bigger person' behind you lifts you off your feet while compressing you in a tight 'hug.' This generally produces a popping noise. That's sometimes all I need to get 'adjusted' and gradually I felt the inability to get a good breath drift away. The anxious feeling was gone as it improved.  I cried reading several sites with many so despondent.  It is a horrible feeling. I believe it is more than anxiety, anxiety is a natural symptom for this which is due to spine out of place. Hope and pray this helps many.
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