Breathing problem symptoms can interfere with everything from exercise to your sleep. The answer to what causes breathing problems is complex, as many potential health concerns can make it difficult to catch your breath. Read on to learn more about different conditions that give rise to respiratory symptoms and what natural remedies may be the right breathing problem solution to meet your needs.
Breathing Problems at Night
Do you find that shortness of breath strikes only at night? Sometimes, all it takes is readjusting how you lay in bed to address the problem. The best sleeping position for breathing problems is lying on your side with your head elevated on a pillow and another pillow placed between your legs. This helps to straighten your spine to allow air to enter and exit your lungs more easily.
If you find yourself gasping for air in the middle of the night or your family reports that you snore loudly, you may suffer from sleep apnea. This condition occurs when your breathing stops and starts throughout the night. Sleep apnea typically requires medical intervention, such as the use of a CPAP mask or surgery.
Sinusitis and Shortness of Breath
Can sinusitis cause shortness of breath? The quick answer is: yes.
Sinusitis refers to inflammation of the cavities located in and around your nose and behind your eyes. Allergies, bacteria, viruses, and dry air can all contribute to this inflammation. When the lining of the sinuses becomes inflamed, air cannot pass through as easily. This can not only cause nasal congestion but may also contribute to shortness of breath.
Asthma & Breathing
Shortness of breath is one of the most common symptoms of asthma. This chronic condition occurs when Because air cannot travel in and out of the lungs as quickly, you may experience wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Periods of shortness of breath, often called asthma attacks, may occur due to exercise or exposure to irritants and allergies. Most often, asthma is controlled with a rescue inhaler with or without additional oral medications.
Chronic Breathing Problems Caused by COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is one of the most severe types of breathing problems. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis contribute to COPD. Most individuals experience symptoms of both, but it is possible to have just one of the conditions. Chronic bronchitis occurs when the lining of the tubes that carry air to the lungs becomes inflamed. Emphysema occurs when the sacs at the ends of these tubes become damaged or destroyed. COPD is usually caused by smoking, but it may also develop due to long-term exposure to dust, chemicals, and burning fuel. Individuals with asthma and those with a family history of COPD are more at risk for developing COPD.
What Are the Symptoms of COPD?
In addition to shortness of breath, COPD symptoms include:
- Chest tightness
- Chronic cough
- Respiratory infections
- Swelling in the legs, feet, or ankles
- Weight loss
How to Increase Lung Capacity
Lung capacity refers to how much air the lungs can hold. Measuring total lung capacity helps medical professionals diagnose breathing problems and monitor how well treatment plans for respiratory conditions work. Some ways to improve lung capacity include:
- Quit smoking. Cigarettes are one of the leading causes of breathing problems, so kicking the habit is at the top of the list of ideas to improve lung health. Steps should be taken to avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible, as studies have found that it can be nearly as harmful as the act of smoking.
- Use protection. Wearing a protective mask in dusty areas or when working with chemicals that cause fumes to help minimize exposing the airways to debris and fumes.
- Exercise. Regular exercise can help to strengthen the lungs, leading to increases in lung capacity over time.
- Relaxation techniques. Deep breathing and other relaxation techniques can help open airways to take in more oxygen and breathe with greater ease.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity contributes to many common breathing problems.
Lung Health Supplements
The right dietary supplements can help to support the respiratory system. Some essential minerals and vitamins for lung health include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
There is also some evidence suggesting that anti-inflammatory herbs and other supplements may also help address breathing problems, including elderberry, black cumin, NAC, quercetin, glutathione, and serrapeptase.
Shortness of breath isn't always caused by respiratory cancer. Heart problems, COVID-19, and other potentially serious conditions may be responsible for the symptom. As a result, it's essential to see a medical provider for a diagnosis before addressing breathing problems by using natural remedies. It is best to discuss lung health supplements with a medical provider to advise which option is best for each individual.