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Heavy breathing usually occurs after you undergo strenuous exercise or do physical activities that require a lot of energy. However, if your breathing suddenly becomes heavy to the point of interfering with your daily activities, then this could be a sign that you are suffering from a he alth problem that needs to be treated immediately
Heavy breathing can occur when too little oxygen enters the body or when the body needs more oxygen. To meet the oxygen needs, the body must work harder by increasing the respiratory rate.When this happens, your breath may feel heavier than usual.
Some Conditions That Cause Heavy Breathing
There are several conditions or diseases that can cause heavy breathing, including:
1. Heart disorders
Disorders with the heart can make it difficult for oxygen to be delivered throughout the body. As a result, the body will experience a lack of oxygen and breathing becomes heavy. Some heart disorders that can cause heavy breathing are:
Heart failure occurs when the heart's pump is weakened, so it is unable to circulate enough blood throughout the body. If you have heart failure, you may experience heavy breathing or gasping for air, even when lying down.
A heart attack occurs when the heart muscle does not get enough blood supply, so the heart's function is disrupted. As a result, blood cannot flow throughout the body.
People who are having a heart attack will experience symptoms of heavy breathing, chest palpitations, and severe chest pain that radiates to the arms or neck.
Arrhythmia is a disorder that occurs in the rhythm of the heart. This condition makes the heart beat faster, slower, or irregularly. If left untreated, this condition can cause various symptoms, including palpitations, fatigue, and heavy breathing.
Heart valve disorders
The heart valve has an important function in the circulatory system. Its main job is to prevent backflow of blood being pumped to and from the heart.
If this valve has a problem, then blood can be blocked and stuck in the atria or chambers of the heart. This can cause swelling of the heart, heavy breathing, and cause impaired heart function.
In addition to some of the heart diseases above, heavy breathing due to abnormalities in the heart can also be caused by cardiomyopathy, which is a condition when there is a problem with the heart muscle that makes it difficult to pump and send blood throughout the body.
2. Lung disorders
Heavy breathing is also often caused by lung disorders. Some lung diseases that can cause heavy breathing include:
Asthma is a disease that causes the airways to swell and narrow. This makes it difficult for people with asthma to breathe or experience heavy breathing. In addition to heavy breathing, recurrence of asthma symptoms can also cause wheezing.
This condition is caused by a buildup of fluid in the lung sacs (alveoli), resulting in swelling or edema in the lungs. Pulmonary edema can make it difficult for the sufferer to breathe.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is a respiratory disorder caused by blockage of the airways in the lungs due to chronic inflammation of the lungs. This condition makes the sufferer have difficulty breathing or breathing becomes heavy.
Besides some of the conditions above, there are also other lung disorders that can cause heavy breathing, namely:
- pulmonary hypertension
- pulmonary embolism
- Tumor or lung cancer
Allergies are reactions of the immune system to foreign substances or objects, such as pollen, grass, pet dander, or certain foods, such as milk, eggs, and seafood.
When experiencing allergies, some complaints can occur, such as itching and swelling of the throat and mouth. This can cause complaints of heavy breathing.
Iron deficiency anemia is a disease caused by a lack of iron, so that the number of he althy red blood cells decreases. Patients with this type of anemia will experience several symptoms, such as fatigue, lack of energy, shortness of breath, and also heavy breathing.
5. Panic attack
A panic attack is a sudden onset of excessive fear or anxiety. Panic attacks can make sufferers experience heavy breathing, anxiety, and fear that is difficult to subside.
Not only the above diseases, heavy breathing can also be caused by various other he alth problems, such as blood acid-base disorders (acidosis and alkalosis), electrolyte abnormalities, sepsis, obesity, poisoning, and shock, for example due to severe dehydration. and severe bleeding.
To determine whether a person is experiencing heavy breathing accompanied by a lack of oxygen, it is necessary to undergo a medical examination by a doctor. To evaluate the patient's he alth condition, the doctor will carry out physical and supporting examinations, such as X-rays, blood tests, blood gas analysis, and electrolyte checks.
In addition to the above examinations, doctors can also determine oxygen levels using a pulse oximeter. This tool is easy to use, just by pinching it on your finger or toe.
Heavy Breath Handling
The handling of cases of heavy breathing is not always the same for everyone because the causes can be different. Below are some steps to treat heavy breathing depending on the underlying cause:
Some of the diseases that cause heavy breathing that have been described above can cause the oxygen supply in the body to decrease. If there is not enough oxygen, then the action of giving oxygen is needed. This oxygen can be given through a nasal cannula (nose tube), a mask, to the use of a ventilator machine.
The use of bronchodilators
Heavy breathing caused by narrowing of the airways, for example due to asthma, can be treated with bronchodilator drugs. This drug serves to widen the respiratory tract, so that breathing can feel more spacious.
There are two types of bronchodilator drugs, namely fast acting (given when asthma symptoms recur) and slow acting bronchodilators which are given to prevent recurrence of asthma symptoms.
Bronchodilator drugs are usually given by inhalation, either through the preparation of the drug directly through the inhaler or through a nebulizer. In addition to inhalation, this drug is also available in oral preparations that are used by mouth.
Heavy breathing caused by allergies can be treated with allergy medications, such as decongestants and antihistamines. This medication is used to ease breathing and reduce symptoms of a cold that makes it hard to breathe. For severe inflammation or allergies, corticosteroid medications may be needed.
For heavy breathing caused by electrolyte abnormalities or blood acid-base disorders, the doctor needs to provide treatment to restore electrolyte and acid-base blood levels to return to normal.
How to Prevent Heavy Breathing
Experiencing heavy breathing is worrying. However, by making changes and starting to live a he althy lifestyle, heavy breathing can be prevented or controlled. Here are some tips you can do:
- Make efforts to lose weight, for example by exercising and eating a balanced nutritious diet, if you are obese
- Get enough rest
- Stop smoking habit
- Control stress by practicing relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation
- Do breathing exercises to help relieve heavy breathing from a panic attack or disorder
- Stay away from exposure to substances or objects that can trigger allergies or irritation of the respiratory tract
If not treated immediately, complaints of heavy breathing can become increasingly difficult to treat and can get worse. Therefore, immediately consult a doctor if you experience complaints of heavy breathing that do not improve.