Causes of Shortness of Breath: Only If Body O2 Is Low

Brain oxygen levels for normal breathing and after hyperventilation Shortness of breath has a simple measurable cause. Each person with shortness of breath suffers from low body O2 content caused by overbreathing. Two additional factors (mouth breathing and chest breathing) worsen this sensation of air hunger or dyspnea.

Every person with shortness of breath suffers from fast and usually deep breathing (increased tidal volume) at rest. This causes reduced CO2 levels in airways and reduced brain and body oxygenation.

Here are some clinical studies that show the exact measurable cause of shortness of breath. Heavy breathing, as hundreds of clinical studies testify, is present in people with nearly any chronic disease.

Minute ventilation rates (chronic diseases)

Condition Minute
Number of
All references or
click below for abstracts
Normal breathing 6 L/min - Medical textbooks
Healthy Subjects 6-7 L/min >400 Results of 14 studies
Heart disease 15 (~+mn~4) L/min 22 Dimopoulou et al, 2001
Heart disease 16 (~+mn~2) L/min 11 Johnson et al, 2000
Heart disease 12 (~+mn~3) L/min 132 Fanfulla et al, 1998
Heart disease 15 (~+mn~4) L/min 55 Clark et al, 1997
Heart disease 13 (~+mn~4) L/min 15 Banning et al, 1995
Heart disease 15 (~+mn~4) L/min 88 Clark et al, 1995
Heart disease  14 (~+mn~2) L/min 30 Buller et al, 1990
Heart disease 16 (~+mn~6) L/min 20 Elborn et al, 1990
Pulm hypertension 12 (~+mn~2) L/min 11 D'Alonzo et al, 1987
Cancer 12 (~+mn~2) L/min 40 Travers et al, 2008
Diabetes 12-17 L/min 26 Bottini et al, 2003
Diabetes 15 (~+mn~2) L/min 45 Tantucci et al, 2001
Diabetes 12 (~+mn~2) L/min 8 Mancini et al, 1999
Diabetes 10-20 L/min 28 Tantucci et al, 1997
Diabetes 13 (~+mn~2) L/min 20 Tantucci et al, 1996
Asthma 13 (~+mn~2) L/min 16 Chalupa et al, 2004
Asthma 15 L/min 8 Johnson et al, 1995
Asthma 14 (~+mn~6) L/min 39 Bowler et al, 1998
Asthma 13 (~+mn~4) L/min 17 Kassabian et al, 1982
Asthma 12 L/min 101 McFadden, Lyons, 1968
COPD 14 (~+mn~2) L/min 12 Palange et al, 2001
COPD 12 (~+mn~2) L/min 10 Sinderby et al, 2001
COPD 14 L/min 3 Stulbarg et al, 2001
Sleep apnea 15 (~+mn~3) L/min 20 Radwan et al, 2001
Liver cirrhosis 11-18 L/min 24 Epstein et al, 1998
Hyperthyroidism 15 (~+mn~1) L/min 42 Kahaly, 1998
Cystic fibrosis 15 L/min 15 Fauroux et al, 2006
Cystic fibrosis 10 L/min 11 Browning et al, 1990
Cystic fibrosis* 10 L/min 10 Ward et al, 1999
CF and diabetes* 10 L/min 7 Ward et al, 1999
Cystic fibrosis 16 L/min 7 Dodd et al, 2006
Cystic fibrosis 18 L/min 9 McKone et al, 2005
Cystic fibrosis* 13 (~+mn~2) L/min 10 Bell et al, 1996
Cystic fibrosis 11-14 L/min 6 Tepper et al, 1983
Epilepsy 13 L/min 12 Esquivel et al, 1991
CHV 13 (~+mn~2) L/min 134 Han et al, 1997
Panic disorder 12 (~+mn~5) L/min 12 Pain et al, 1991
Bipolar disorder 11 (~+mn~2) L/min 16 MacKinnon et al, 2007
Dystrophia myotonica 16 (~+mn~4) L/min 12 Clague et al, 1994

Note that advanced stages of asthma can lead to lung destruction, ventilation-perfusion mismatch,
and arterial hypercapnia causing further reduction in body oxygen levels.

Hyperventilation leads to tissue hypoxia (or low cell-O2 levels). This is also true for the brain, heart and all other vital organs, as independent research studies confirmed.

Shortness of breath mechanism

Shortness of breath can appear only in people who have less than 20 seconds for the simple DIY body-oxygen test (see the link below). If a person gets over 30 s for body and brain oxygenation, his or her shortness of breath disappears. Here is a short video about shortness of breath:

Or go back to Symptoms of hyperventilation

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