Shortness of breath – called Dyspnoea by doctors – is the feeling which none of us wants to have. It’s a sensation of having difficulty in breathing which often leads uneasiness.
If you’re troubled by something similar, this article is for you. Here, we’ll deal with the causes as well as solutions for shortness of breath.
Most of us consider ourselves healthy.
But, even in a healthy individual, shortness of breath is normal during a period of high body activity. Activities like cycling, gym workout or running usually need the body to use up more oxygen.
At rest also, people might get this feeling under special circumstances. As for an example, a person might feel out of breath when he or she is suffering from a fever.
Under normal circumstances, shortness of breath hints faster breathing. One might also complain of not being able to inhale enough amount of air. Fast and rapid breathing is also referred to as hyperventilation.
Usually, it occurs with the disorders of lung and heart.
It might be something as simple as eating in a rush or nibbling large amounts. But then also, it might be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or bronchitis.
In this article, we will find the reasons of shortness of breath.
Why Do I Feel Short of Breath After Eating?
There are many reasons for this happening. Some of the common causes of this condition, along with brief courses of action to be undertaken, are as follows:
1. Fast Eating
Many people have the habit of eating in a rush. It may be because of a hectic lifestyle or you just feel it as a waste of time. But think again, this not-so-vital thing could be a cause.
Your stomach widens out when you eat large amounts or swallow too much food. This leads to swallow more air while eating, which results to bloating. The result is that your enlarged stomach now presses against your diaphragm.
Now, your enlarged stomach presses against your diaphragm. This in turn, renders you the shortness of breath. Your diaphragm now has lesser space to expand. Since it must give a minimum amount of oxygen to the body, it still functions out, making you feel out of breath.
Your diaphragm now has lesser space to expand. It still has to give minimum amount of oxygen to the body. So, it still functions out, making you feel out of breath.
- Stop eating fast.
- Take in small amounts and chew the food in a proper way before swallowing.
- Avoid distractions while eating.
- Switching off the TV during the meal is also a good idea.
This’ll also help you savour the taste. Now you’ll know when your stomach is full. You’ll also avoid eating more than required.
2. Food Allergy
Even though much of us know if we are allergic to a food. We avoid eating it, but still there is a possibility that the food item you ate had an allergen which made you fall short of breath.
A food allergy occurs when your immune system reacts in an excessive manner to a food or any of it’s ingredients. The immune system protects your body against diseases.
There is no rule for you to be allergic to any food. The most frequently listed allergens include:
- Tree nuts
- Seeds (mustard and sesame)
- Find the causal allergen and remove it from the list of foods you intake.
- Prevent yourself from eating the allergen.
This way, you can combat shortness of breath. Keep avoiding that food to stay healthy.
3. Obstruction in Lungs and Airway Traffic
People often complain of breathlessness when there is some obstruction in the airways. It might be due to something you ate.
Mucus and phlegm are some such common obstructions. These clog the airways and make you feel out of breath.
It might also happen if have a lung problem. These include conditions like Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or Asthma. Eating can rekindle the symptoms like shortness of breath.
- For asthma patients, I suggest using a spacer device with the inhaler. It’ll help deliver the medicine directly to the lungs and relieve the symptoms present.
- COPD, is a disease which makes breathing difficult. The thing about this condition is that it turns worse over time. What happens is that it destroys the ability of the lungs to take the air in. It destroys the “air sacs” which are essential for breathing.
- Two other causes in this case are pneumonia and lung inflammation. These couple the effect with a cough. These can be tackled with antibiotics.
- Tumours in the areas of oesophagus and trachea are some other commonplace causes.
- Pinpoint the exact underlying cause with the help of a medical practitioner. Deal with the problem as soon as possible.
- Don’t ignore any such problems as it may even result to other problems later in life.
4. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD refers to a condition wherein your lower oesophagus remains partially open all the time. This lets the digestive acids of the stomach to crawl up and cause an Acid reflux after you’ve eaten something.
Digestion takes some time to start after you’ve eaten something. This condition also surfaces at the same time.
It is not serious if happening once in a while. But, patients should readily consult a doctor if it occurs twice or more than that in a week.
It’s symptoms include:
- Tightening sensation in the chest or lower abdomen
- Dry coughing
- Trouble in swallowing
- Shortness of breath after eating anything.
- See a doctor and take the prescribed medications in due time.
- Try and inforce the lifestyle changes suggested by the doctor, if any.
It basically is irregular heartbeat. This commonplace condition is usually harmless. But it does produce a variety of varied symptoms with feeling of shortness of breath after eating.
People struck with mild arrhythmias will hardly notice the other symptoms. But, when it turns extreme, specific symptoms that occur are:
- Chest pain
Rarely, severe arrhythmia patients suffer from stopped heartbeat and/ or cardiac arrest.
- You may take on a surgery if your arrhythmia is severe.
- You can help yourself with prescribed medications.
- Don’t forget to follow the suggested alterations in lifestyle when asked to do so.
6. Anxiety Disorders
General psychological sickness emerge with uncanny fear, paranoia and panicky mind. Different disorders have different symptoms.
Phobias and anxiety are a common part of them.
These disorders make it impossible for you to function properly. Weight related anxiety problems are not hard to find, especially after eating something.
If this is a reason for your anxiety, food you eat may lead to shortness of breath.
Symptoms like intense fear and nausea may also occur.
These disorders usually bundle with other mental sicknesses like depression and binge eating.
- See a psychologist, psychiatrist or a psycho-analyst. They’ll help you find the exact mental disorder and allay it.
- Treatment depends on how severe the symptoms are and how often they occur.
- A combination of medications and therapy sessions are bound to help out.
Feeling Out of Breath Even Without Eating? Here’s Why?
The tightening sensation in the chest is not confined to the timeframe after you eat something. This can also occur from the following diseases and conditions.
The cluster of diseases occur as a consequence of abnormal protein deposits. The abnormal tissue, called amyloid, have varied structures. Therefore, they can be localised or spread over various organs in the body.
If such a protein is found in the localised area, it might either not be harmful. Else, it will only hinder the function of only one of the bodily organs. When this happens, it is known as localised amyloidosis.
Amyloidosis may also affect the tissues throughout the body. Then, it is known as systematic amyloidosis. In this condition, the functions of any of the organs might be impaired. Further, it may cause serious changes in vital organs of the body like kidney, heart and lungs.
The symptoms are not seen until the disease has advanced to a certain level. The symptoms are generally related to the particular organ affected by the disease.
Hence, symptoms are quite unclear and can include one or combination of signs including:
- Shortness of breath
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Tingling sensation
- Lack of appetite
- Hearing loss
- Weight loss
- Enlarged tongue
- Swelling of hands and feet.
- There is no prevention for amyloidosis. But after it has been discovered, the signs can be treated by curing the underlying disease.
- Treatment depends on the type and severity of the amyloidosis a person suffers from.
2. Pulmonary Embrolism
When a blood clot travels through the body and blocks the arteries of the lungs, it causes pulmonary embolism. In this condition, a blood clot blocks one or more arteries of the lung.
People may experience the following:
- Pain in areas of the calf or chest while breathing
- Dry cough
- Fast or rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath and respiratory distress
- Light-headedness and a feeling of low oxygen in body
- A fast heartbeat
- Medical diagnosis is essential to detect this condition. It is usually found through lab tests and imaging.
- Breaking up of the blood clot in the primitive state would reduce the risk of death to a great extent.
- Physical activity will help in the prevention of the blood clots.
Some other causes
It refers to a condition when fluids build up inside the stomach.
Fluids fill up the spaces between the abdomen and other organs. It generally happens when the liver stops working.
This one needs no introduction. It happens when you are physically unfit due to less/ no work and are fond of junk food. If coupled with a sedentary lifestyle – you are (or are going to be) obese.
This condition also puts you at risk by making you vulnerable to the disease world. They include illnesses like cancer, type-2 diabetes and heart diseases.
3. Pregnancy/ Menstruation
If you are menstruating or pregnant, that might be the reason for shortness of breath. There is nothing much to fear until and unless the other symptoms are also present.
4. Chest Muscle, Nerve, and Chest Wall Diseases
Various diseases are related to muscle and nerves. They can lead to shortness of breath by reducing the body’s ability to open the lungs.
Thus, most of them, impair respiration. Muscular dystrophy is an example of a muscular disease. Paralysis, a nervous system disease, can also cause shortness of breath.
5. Heart Diseases
Some conditions limit the ability of the heart to carry the blood around the body.
Hence, they cause shortness of breath in people. Valve diseases of the heart form a part of it.
6. Lung Tissue Diseases
There is a huge number of lung tissue diseases. They vary from common to uncommon and temporary to chronic.
Infections that come under this category are:
- Acute bronchitis from bacteria, viruses, and pneumonia, etc.
- Cancers that have reached to the lungs
- Radiation or chemical poisoning to the lung (even those from radiation therapy)
- Occupational hazards, for example working in mines.
- Connecting tissue disorders
- Fungal infections like blastomycosis, coccidiomycosis, and aspergillosis
- Drug toxicity
There are other signs apart from the areas mentioned above. A person must seek medical attention if they experience one or a combination of the following symptoms.
- Blood in your stool
- Chest pain
- Vomiting that does not stop after one day
- Loss of control over bladder or bowel movements
- Severe abdominal pain
- Dark, bloody, or tarry-looking stools
If you’ve got the following symptoms and they are worsening over time. Seek medical help immediately.
- If you’re healthy but you experience shortness of breath. It may be due to your lifestyle. You need to bring in the appropriate change in it.
- If you work till exhaustion or work in the strenuous environment then you need to take a break or tone down on the workload.
- If you have a desk job or a job not requiring much physical labour, learn some desk exercises. Try and perform them at work.
These changes will help you to combat the shortness of breath.
- This will definitely help you. Your body will be able to function in a normal fashion. Mental burden should be less.
- Yoga, meditation and other tools of introspection will help you to relax your senses. They’ll also ease and calm your mind.
- Some of the breathing problems are symptoms of major diseases. Treat them from the moment they are diagnosed.
If such is the case, then your doctor will prescribe you the appropriate medicine for the illness.
Take the medicine on time and consult your doctor on a regular basis. It’ll help to keep the disease in check.
Ways to Improve Respiration in Body
Want to breathe better? Here are some suggestions just for you:
- Stay near the plants. Increase their concentration around the area where you spend most of your time. It is the best thing for you.
- Plants purify the air and absorb carbon dioxide in a natural way. Planting a small sapling in your house or getting a small pot for your desk is also not a bad idea.
2. Go Green
- Eat fresh and leafy greens as they are healthy for your body and your lungs.
- These contain dozens of vitamins and minerals which aid respiration.
- Vegetable juices are of great benefit in this regard.
3. Cut Extra Salt Out
- Many might not be aware of it. A low sodium diet can give a ready boost to the inhaling capabilities of your body.
- Cut down on your salt intake to help out your respiration.
Analyse the above-mentioned causes and report it back to your doctor. Bringing in the suggested lifestyle changes would also ensure some prevention. Stay calm and follow the appropriate course of action and you’ll feel better for sure.