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Thread: Is this all anxiety?

  1. #1
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    Is this all anxiety?

    I keep on feeling like I'm short of oxygen. Like I'll stand up and feel like I need to take bigger breaths to get oxygen to my muscles. Then my head will get random pains in it. This doesn't happen everytime I stand, but sometimes.
    I also get these sudden feeling that I need to gasp for air, or I'll feel like when I'm swallowing or eating/drinking something I need to take a big breath and I'll get like a shock of panic as I'll feel like I can't (because I am swallowing/drinking) and then I struggle to breathe/swallow for a second.
    These things make my panic escalate. I had an oxygen check a couple weeks ago (just the little oximeter thing) and it was ok but I'm just struggling a lot with these symptoms right now.

  2. #2
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    Re: Is this all anxiety?

    Quote Originally Posted by TimetoTurn View Post
    I keep on feeling like I'm short of oxygen. Like I'll stand up and feel like I need to take bigger breaths to get oxygen to my muscles. Then my head will get random pains in it. This doesn't happen everytime I stand, but sometimes.
    I also get these sudden feeling that I need to gasp for air, or I'll feel like when I'm swallowing or eating/drinking something I need to take a big breath and I'll get like a shock of panic as I'll feel like I can't (because I am swallowing/drinking) and then I struggle to breathe/swallow for a second.
    These things make my panic escalate. I had an oxygen check a couple weeks ago (just the little oximeter thing) and it was ok but I'm just struggling a lot with these symptoms right now.
    The first thing I do before I comment on a new thread is to check out the profile of the poster to see how HA they are, and you fit the classic HA profile looking at the threads you have started...

    Bottom line: you're hyperventilating and then panicking about the sensations associated with it.

    Rest assured that if disease was the cause for this symptom - your heart and lungs would be struggling and this would be picked up in the oxygen check.

    This is a classic anxiety symptom, so you need to learn how to breathe properly.

    When you breathe shallowly - you are triggering the fight or flight response. Your body is preparing to move really fast to run away or to stay and fight. With anxiety, there is no danger, so you're left with this horrible symptom and a mind which doesn't understand that this is simply your body trying to protect you.

    First thing you do is to completely empty your lungs of air - breathe out for as long as you can - then take a BIG breath in, and hold it for about 4 seconds, then breathe out for as long as you physically can. Keep doing this until you feel calm, and you will feel calm, because doing this switches off the fight or flight response and the parasympathetic response will take over. You can adjust the times until you have a pattern which feels right to you. If you need help with this, there is a very good breathing exercise freebie on the Calm app where you just breathe in and out when it tells you to.

    You're ok.
    __________________
    There is a light. There is. Look for it. Look for it shining over your shoulder, on the past. It was light where you went once. It is light where you are now. It will be light where you will go again. ~ Jennifer Worth

  3. #3
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    Re: Is this all anxiety?

    Thank you for your reply -I'll certainly try the breathing exercises. Is it possible to hypeventilate without being aware of what you're doing?

  4. #4
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    Re: Is this all anxiety?

    Quote Originally Posted by TimetoTurn View Post
    Thank you for your reply -I'll certainly try the breathing exercises. Is it possible to hypeventilate without being aware of what you're doing?
    Yes, when you think you're short of O2 and keep trying to take deep breaths to compensate.

    Your symptoms are extremely common, and by far the best way to deal with it is to breathe through your nose (even though your brain will be shouting 'GASP FOR BREATH'). The breathing exercises are a good idea too, but you need to try and reverse the air gulping habit as much as possible. You'll find that once you breathe through your nose for a few minutes, all of a sudden you won't feel like you need to gulp in air as much. Your brain knows the difference between mouth and nose breathing, and assumes you're short of air if you're mouth breathing.

    Also, just ignore it. You've been checked, you know your air levels are good, so you can safely ignore the sensation without worrying about it. That alone is often enough to lessen the problem.

  5. #5
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    Re: Is this all anxiety?

    Quote Originally Posted by TimetoTurn View Post
    Thank you for your reply -I'll certainly try the breathing exercises. Is it possible to hypeventilate without being aware of what you're doing?
    Absolutely. Also, breath holding - which is what I do a lot.

    Hyperventilating is simply taking rapid shallow breaths. It's generally the case that we become sensitive to the symptoms of hyperventilation and react to them with fear without understanding that the process is all part of fight or flight - a normal response of the body. It also helps to remember that this is also the same with good anxiety - like before your favourite band comes on stage, or when a person you quite fancy looks your way...

    Play around with breathing exercises and see what works best for you. It might seem difficult at first, and it might make you feel more anxious initially because you're used to breathing shallowly - but bear with it and you'll reap the benefits.
    __________________
    There is a light. There is. Look for it. Look for it shining over your shoulder, on the past. It was light where you went once. It is light where you are now. It will be light where you will go again. ~ Jennifer Worth

  6. #6
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    Re: Is this all anxiety?

    Quote Originally Posted by NoraB View Post

    Hyperventilating is simply taking rapid shallow breaths.

    Just to clarify, hyperventilation means taking in too much air. It doesn't really matter how you take it in. Slow, massive gulps will produce the same effect.

  7. #7
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    Re: Is this all anxiety?

    Hi @ankietyjoe, I wanted to pm you to ask you about something heart related that you wrote about in another post but I can't find the post and I don't know how to pm. Any chance you can let me know please?

  8. #8
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    Re: Is this all anxiety?

    Quote Originally Posted by ankietyjoe View Post
    Just to clarify, hyperventilation means taking in too much air. It doesn't really matter how you take it in. Slow, massive gulps will produce the same effect.
    Hyperventilation in its definition is rapid breathing. We breathe too quickly and because of this we exhale more carbon dioxide than we should do. This affects acidity in our blood. The stress response kicks in with all those 'heart attack' symptoms. This is what causes the symptoms.
    __________________
    There is a light. There is. Look for it. Look for it shining over your shoulder, on the past. It was light where you went once. It is light where you are now. It will be light where you will go again. ~ Jennifer Worth

  9. #9
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    Re: Is this all anxiety?

    Quote Originally Posted by NoraB View Post
    Hyperventilation in its definition is rapid breathing. We breathe too quickly and because of this we exhale more carbon dioxide than we should do. This affects acidity in our blood. The stress response kicks in with all those 'heart attack' symptoms. This is what causes the symptoms.
    The last time I was in A&E because of my breathing a pulmonologist explained it to me, and I listened really carefully.

    It's too much air. Doesn't matter if you breathe quickly or take too many slow, big gulps. The result is the same. I fully understand the O2/CO2 balance equation, and you don't have to breathe quickly for it to be a problem.

    One of the things that people do when they're short of breath is to try and 'satisfy' that need for a full breath. That too, is hyperventilation.

  10. #10
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    Re: Is this all anxiety?

    Quote Originally Posted by ankietyjoe View Post
    The last time I was in A&E because of my breathing a pulmonologist explained it to me, and I listened really carefully.

    It's too much air. Doesn't matter if you breathe quickly or take too many slow, big gulps. The result is the same. I fully understand the O2/CO2 balance equation, and you don't have to breathe quickly for it to be a problem.

    One of the things that people do when they're short of breath is to try and 'satisfy' that need for a full breath. That too, is hyperventilation.
    That need to get that big breath in? Does it happen by itself? Or is it preceded by rapid breathing? Because, for me, it comes a few steps in...

    Also, could there be confusion re 'air gulping' with aerophagia?
    __________________
    There is a light. There is. Look for it. Look for it shining over your shoulder, on the past. It was light where you went once. It is light where you are now. It will be light where you will go again. ~ Jennifer Worth

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