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Difficulty Breathing: Caused by Low Body O2

Avatar of Dr Artour Rakhimov, Buteyko Breathing Practitioner and Master TrainerBy Dr. Artour Rakhimov, Alternative Health Educator and Author
- Medically Reviewed by Naziliya Rakhimova, MD
- Last updated on August 9, 2018

Man keeps an arm on his chest with breathing difficultyDifficulty breathing (aka dyspnea or shortness of breath) is labored breathing accompanied by an unpleasant awareness of one's own breathing. Difficulty in breathing is commonly present in people with progressive heart disease, cystic fibrosis, HIV-AIDS, cancer, COPD, asthma, emphysema, pregnancy and many other conditions. Common triggers for difficulty breathing are anxiety, exertion, sleep, and eating or meals.

What causes breathing difficulty?

The Homepage of this site has an extended Table that provides many more health conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes, etc.) with the same general observation: too heavy breathing at rest. The cause of difficulty breathing is hyperventilation or alveolar hypocapnia (lack of CO2 in the lungs). The normal breathing pattern at rest is imperceptible, inaudible and unnoticeable to others. It is small in tidal volume (500 ml for a 70-kg man), slow (12 breaths/min), light (6 L/min for minute ventilation), strictly nasal and diaphragmatic. Hyperventilation leads to alveolar hypocapnia and disrupts normal oxygen delivery due to:
- 1) reduced arterial oxygenation caused by lung pathologies (COPD, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, and so forth) or
- 2) arterial hypocapnia, leading to vasoconstriction and a suppressed Bohr effect - both of which reduce oxygen delivery to the tissues.

Shortness of breath (difficulties breathing) and hypocapnia

The factors that dramatically increase the work of breathing are constriction of airways due to alveolar hypocapnia, chest breathing (due to the spasmodic diaphragm), obstruction of airways due to mucus and chronic inflammation with possible a increase in blood viscosity. Mouth breathing worsens difficulty breathing due to the reduction in NO (nitric oxide) absorption and reduced alveolar CO2.

Note that these people suffer from low O2 in cells and low CO2 in airways. CO2 in arterial blood can be high in those groups of people who develop problems with lungs. This will help to understand the title of this page.

Overeating (or eating meals), anxiety, stress, night sleep, deep breathing exercises, poor posture, and exertion all lead to more hyperventilation (and alveolar hypocapnia). As a result, it is obvious that they are triggers of breathing difficulties.

Treatment for breathing difficulties

Treatment of breathing difficulties should be based on a treatment of hyperventilation syndrome. Significant reduction in breathing difficulties has been achieved in tens of clinical trials after the application of various respiratory therapies and breathing devices. Patients need to achieve more than X seconds (see more below) for the body-oxygen test to prevent shortness of breath at rest. When people have normal breathing (about 6 L/min with 10-12 breaths per minute and only 500-600 mL per breath), they generally do not feel their breathing, because normal breathing is tiny. Therefore, breathing normalization is the physiologically correct solution for this health problem with breathing difficulties.

As about the number X, it is provided right below here, as well as the best starting options (most effective treatment options) to get quick results in higher body oxygenation and fewer problems with difficulty breathing.

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