We Do Not Notice Our Heavy Breathing
Usually, people notice that their breathing is heavy when they breathe more than 25 L/min at rest (or 4 times more than the physiological norm). Why is this? First, there are cultural or social reasons related to the modern perception of breathing. Since most people believe in various breathing myths, especially the deep breathing myth, they naturally assume, for example, during times of stress that deep breathing provides them with more oxygen and oxygen is very important for health and wellbeing. Hence, instead of being alarmed by their heavy breathing triggered by whatever reasons, many people even "help" their breathing to be deeper and faster, while others never learned or were taught that healthy breathing should be very light and slow. They simply "let it go" in all types of abnormal situations (lifestyle risk factors), like overeating, sleeping on one's back, breathing through the mouth, slouching, overheating or abnormal heat exchange, and many others.
For the same reasons, mouth breathing, for example, also became common, socially acceptable and even popular, among cover photo girls, about 20-30 years ago. Many decades ago, the reactions of people to mouth breathing were very different. Most people would (correctly) decide that something horribly wrong took place with the mouth breather.
Another reason of our poor awareness about our breathing relates to mechanics of breathing. Air is weightless, and breathing muscles are powerful. During rigorous physical exercise we can breathe up to 100-150 l/min. Some athletes can breathe up to 200 l/min. So it is easy to breathe "only" 10-15 l/min at rest (or about 10% of our maximum capacity), throughout the day and night and not be aware of this rate of breathing. However, in health, we should breathe only about 3-4% of our maximum breathing rate.
It is nevertheless normal during rigorous exercise to breathe, 50 or more l/min since, while exercising, CO2 and O2 concentrations in the arterial blood can remain nearly the same as at rest.
How one can check changes in own breathing rate
It is not easy to notice changes in breathing even for many advanced breathing students. The solution of this challenge is the CP or body oxygenation test (stress-free breath-holding time after usual exhalation) that provides an accurate assessment of one's breathing for over 95% of people. [There is only a small group of people with panic, anxiety, migraines, and hypertension who should temporary avoid this stress-free test due to unpleasant symptoms and stress that can appear after the test and present for many hours or minutes afterwards. They can control their health progress using their heart rate.]
Hence, if your breathing rate (or minute volume) at rest slightly increases due to risk lifestyle factors, your CP will be the most accurate measurement tool to notice the change. It is an indispensable test to check your breathing changes in the morning (immediately after waking up), for nutritional deficiencies, physical exercise (next morning CP), overeating, and many other situations.
Conclusion: The CP is an accurate test that will help you to notice even slight changes in your breathing. Use it, if it is safe for you, in all type of situations to monitor how your organism reacts to environmental and other changes.
Reference pages: Breathing norms and medical facts:
- Breathing norms: Parameters, graph, and description of the normal breathing pattern
- 6 breathing myths: Myths and superstitions about breathing and body oxygenation (prevalence: over 90%)
- Hyperventilation: Definitions of hyperventilation: their advantages and weak points
- Hyperventilation syndrome: Western scientific evidence about prevalence of chronic hyperventilation in patients with chronic conditions (37 medical studies)
- Normal minute ventilation: Small and slow breathing at rest is enjoyed by healthy subjects (14 studies)
- Hyperventilation prevalence: Present in over 90% of normal people (24 medical studies)
- HV and hypoxia: How and why deep breathing reduces oxygenation of cells and tissues of all vital organs
- Body-oxygen test (CP test) : How to measure your own breathing and body oxygenation (two in one) using a simple DIY test
- Body oxygen in healthy: Results for the body-oxygen test for healthy people (27 medical studies)
- Body oxygen in sick : Results for the body-oxygen test for sick people (14 medical studies)
- Buteyko Table of Health Zones: Clinical description and ranges for breathing zones: from the critically ill (severely sick) up to super healthy people with maximum possible body oxygenation
- Morning hyperventilation: Why people feel worse and critically ill people are most likely to die during early morning hours
References: pages about CO2 effect:
- Vasodilation: CO2 expands arteries and arterioles facilitating perfusion (or blood supply) to all vital organs
- The Bohr effect: How and why oxygen is released by red blood cells in tissues
- Cell oxygen levels: How alveolar CO2 influences oxygen transport
- Oxygen transport: O2 transport is controlled by vasoconstriction-vasodilation and the Bohr effects, both of which rely on CO2
- Free radical generation: Reactive oxygen species are produced within cells due to anaerobic cell respiration caused by cell hypoxia
- Inflammatory response: Chronic inflammation in fueled by the hypoxia-inducible factor 1, while normal breathing reduces and eliminates inflammation
- Nerve stabilization: People remain calm due to calmative or sedative effects of carbon dioxide in neurons or nerve cells
- Muscle relaxation: Relaxation of muscle cells is normal at high CO2, while hypocapnia causes muscular tension, poor posture and, sometimes, aggression and violence
- Bronchodilation: Dilation of airways (bronchi and bronchioles) is caused by carbon dioxide, and their constriction by hypocapnia (low CO2)
- Blood pH: Regulation of blood pH due to breathing and regulation of other bodily fluids
- CO2: lung damage: Elevated carbon dioxide prevents lung injury and promotes healing of lung tissues
- CO2: Topical carbon dioxide can heal skin and tissues
- Synthesis of glutamine in the brain, CO2 fixation, and other chemical reactions
- Deep breathing myth: Ignorant and naive people promote the idea that deep breathing and breathing more air at rest is beneficial for health
- Breathing control: How is our breathing regulated? Why hypocapnia makes breathing uneven, irregular and erratic.
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