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Abnormal awareness of breathing

Sorry for yet another post but I am now a bit confused.

Is this the same as hyperventilation/over breathing or a breathing pattern disorder? Because I have seen the physio for this and only scored borderline or just under on the questionnaire, she didn't really help symptoms so now I am wondering if it is the same how it could be causing all these symptoms that are apparently not really asthma?

I know hyperventilation can mimic asthma symptoms but then if not scoring high on the questionnaire seems like a lot of havoc to be causing on its own!

I have googled 'abnormal awareness of breathing' but still confused.

EDIT: also he said you can be aware of breathing when asleep?! Not contradicting him but this confuses me too...wasn't sure how I could be overly aware of my symptoms if not actually awake.

12 Replies

Sorry to bump...just curious if anyone knows about this, was reminded after reading the 'lung movement' post. No worries if not, I asked the AUK line about it when I rang the other day and they weren't sure either!

Also remembered that the physio said I had a normal rate and pattern of breathing, but still somehow have a breathing pattern disorder?! More confusion...


my perception of it was ..... is your brain is so fixated on the breathing , that when something that the brain sees as a trigger or stimuli it kicks the breathing into a response either hyperventilating or hypoventilating.... as it occurs you become aware of the changes and the brain responds by making the breathing change even more , becoming like a viscous circle...... used to be treated by breathing and relaxtion excercises to break the cycle. don't know what current treatment is ....


If a consultant told me i had an abnormal awareness of breathing i would take that to mean it was more in my head than anything else.

Try not to worry and over analyse every detail, be pleased and relieved in the knowledge that you have now seen 3 consultants, had every test done and and many repeated and you have no serious issues.

This should be cause for celebration not anxiety. I apologise if this is not what you want to hear but you seem so desperate for answers xxx


Sorry for obsessing! No need to read this really, bit rambling.

Thanks for replies guys - yep Gussypoo that is pretty much what I thought he was saying, I was just a little puzzled because of his different way of phrasing it and because of what he said about happening in my sleep...I wasn't sure how I could have awareness good or bad while asleep! Plus I've seen the physios who didn't seem to think I had much of a problem with this, or at least not enough to explain most of the symptoms.

Picalilly, I do tend to overanalyse stuff...bad habit and I do it esp. after appts - sorry for all the ranting that happens, I think I need to stay off here straight after, but I tend to think things through by talking about them non-stop. Unlucky for others. Also I am just generally curious so I always want to know why just because lol.

Also I know loads of people on here including you do have much more severe problems you can't do anything about which must be much worse. I'm really sorry if I've come across as obsessing over nothing when I don't have a serious problem. I'm not really worried that there's something dreadful that they've missed, what bothers me is that these symptoms are, at least to me, pretty real and when I said they'd been bothering me I just got this comment I don't really understand without much idea of what I can do about it - even if symptoms are in my head surely I ought to be able to do something about it! I'm not looking for a diagnosis of something dreadful, just an explanation that makes sense and hopefully a plan of how to tackle stuff.

But as has been pointed out by someone else (PM), cons actions do suggest he's doing something with the Symbicort etc. And I feel like he's paying attention at least - I didn't really rate the opinions of the first two simply because it seemed like they had decided I was a bit crazy to begin with and everything followed from that, plus they never seemed to pay attention to anything I said.

Also think I was feeling a bit crappy on Wed anyway (and a couple of days after) - putting it down to PMS when everything seems much worse than it is, plus my ranting habit. Sorry for another massive long post lol, I will attempt to avoid obsessing too much on here in future. No guarantees though. ;)


You dont not need to apologise at all hun for wanting answers to the questions that are whizzing around in your head thats why we are all on this forum to help support and just to be there for one another through the good times and bad times dont ever worry about putting more posts on am sure if people on this forum couldnt help they would just be kind enough to support you and each other in times of need that you have now so dont be sorry for having questions that you need help with the answers you have no reason to be sorry take care and I hope everything goes well for you xxx


Hi Philomela,

I've read a few of your posts. From what you say your consultant has said and how he is treating you my interpretation would be that he does think you have mild asthma and this is what has caused your 'abnormal awareness of breathing'.

It sounds to me like your consultant feels that when you are experiencing these asthma symptoms your body has an exaggerated response it and see's it as potentially threatening which produces a quantity of adrenaline which in turn results in your breathing getting faster to take in more oxygen, which muscles need to help them transform sugar into energy and as a result of this your senses become more alert and the asthma symptoms result in the cycle continuing.

This might sound slightly odd but I think this can happen to all of us, but when we are reading or learning about a condition then we suddenly begin to think 'oh yes I have that!' but if we'd not been reading or learning about it we'd never have noticed!! They always say that medical students make the biggest hypercondriacs, I have a great friend who after a lecture which discussed gangrene was convinced her toe had 'got it' and rushed off to the doctors about it... who laughed and told her it was a blood blister! Anyways I'm rambling a bit too much, I think what I'm trying to say is try not to go searching the internet too much. When people ask me how my lungs are even if I'm not experiencing any symptoms I suddenly become aware of my breathing...And when I wake in the night with my asthma I try and avoid this site, have a neb and a hot squash and read till I drop back off to sleep...otherwise I think I think about it all a bit too much.. I hope you get what I'm on about!

Anyways I think you should go ahead and get the final opinion off Brompton just in case they have any bright ideas but it does sound like you've had every test going and had multiple specialists agree. I think perhaps something like buteyko breathing technique might be worth exploring as although I'm not it's greatest supporter I do think some of the ideas may be of help to you. Symbicort is a good preventer inhaler so hopefully this should get your asthma under control and then you can concentrate on not being aware of your breathing!! Another option if things don't calm down is a getting a referral from your GP for CBT which can help change habitual thought processes.

I hope some of this make sense!! I'm rambling and desperately trying to avoid revision. I really hope you can get your symptoms under control!



Thanks Kerry-Anne and Alice! Really appreciate yours and everyone else's support on here.

BUT I know I do obsess lol and tend to do verbal diarrhoea, especially after appts when I microanalyse everything they said. Sorry!

Alice, when are your exams? I know that revision-avoiding feeling hehe. I should be doing some work right now.

I hear what you're saying - they have ruled stuff out which they need to rule out and I can see why they thought of it and then needed to test just in case it was that. (Also have heard of the med student thing - heard about one male med student who said he'd really liked doing Obs & Gynae because it was the only time he felt really well, since he knew he couldn't have any of the things he was learning about!).

Basically that is what new cons is saying yes. At the risk of sounding like a stuck record I am still not sure how this works at night when I'm not even aware what planet I'm on lol - I never even wake up properly either most of the time.

Asthma does make sense to me given personal/family history, even if it is a bit weird. However, I'm kind of ignoring the first two consultants on this as they only seem to have agreed it's nothing horrible (which is good) - even current good cons doesn't rate the first one's communication skills, and they never IMO made any real attempt to work out what was going on beyond establishing what it wasn't, though I know they had to do that, nor did they bother to take into consideration how it affected me on a daily basis.

I think I share your opinions on Buteyko...I have looked into it, but I've seen several physios, started the exercises again but they all said there might be something there when I'm exercising (and am working on that, think exercises have improved things) but in general I have a good rate and pattern, breathe through my nose and not usually with upper chest and can hold my breath for over 30 secs. Even when they're watching me do all this which makes me massively aware of my breathing! So guess I wasn't sure if stuff like Buteyko could help, plus I don't like the 'evangelistic' this-will-solve-all-your-problems tone. I prob. spend too much time on here but otherwise, apart from looking up something specific, try to avoid internet searching as is so much crap and confusion out there!

Anyway sorry for rambling - thanks and good luck with your exams!


If you think back pre-asthma, how was the breathing back then? Can you remember? Chances are its much the same and chances are, you're like me ie a bit of a worrier and race to look things up. Can see the advantages pre-Google of heavy encyclopaedias kept behind glass doors in the library. No fear of the populus getting hold of them every other minute and worrying themselves silly. Like most folk do. We're hardwired to it.


Hmmm...well I can't remember what it was like the first time I had asthma (and it certainly was asthma back then) but I do remember quite a sharp line before this - I was fine, never thought about breathing except when singing/after running, I had swine flu which made me feel horrible but not short of breath, then after I'd sort of recovered suddenly started to get episodes of being breathless morning and evening which I did my best to pretend weren't there - it was sort of 'what the hell is this? Go away!' When I got told eventually by first cons that it was just overbreathing was confused but thought then 'ok, well I'll just wait for it to go' but it got worse instead.

Don't want to keep on about this so will stop there. I do tend to want to know why but read stuff with a lot of scepticism - and I was pretty damn sure most of the stuff they were testing me for was not the issue, even if they had to do it! I think given I know the lungs are at worst moderate and a bit difficult, the idea that I might have a head messed up enough to cause so much trouble is a lot of what worries me when people say this sort of thing.


Hey again!

My exams start in three weeks sadly and I've got a mountain of coursework and stuff in before that - so much for an Easter break!

What your cons said/my interpretation of it would still effect you in the night, if your body is programmed to over react as such when you experience asthma symptoms and as we all know asthma continues into the night then it's still going to affect you in the same way during the night - no escaping it grrr!

Stop apologising - even if the conclusion was made that some of it was in your head it doesn't mean that it's your fault!!




Ah I get you, but I think I didn't the first time hence the confusion. All I can say in that case is that brains are weird...but then I knew that as I study them lol. Actually having a good couple of days atm - Steve the snake is lurking but managing not to need too much reliever and PFs are being epic (it's good to know they have some relation to what's going on even if it's a weak correlation). Hope you're doing ok other than revision and get a bit of a break at some point!

Only apologising as I feel I'm obsessing on the same point a lot and sounding like a hypochondriac...


The Bigest problem is that the information on the Internet isn't always. Correct .... Yet because it's google every one believes it must be true and starts to quote the information on here as being the being the correct and expert information rather than an opinion .... Ask your dr or asthma nurse for the answers that way it will stop all the stress, misunderstanding and hysteria from the Internet info as you get info more suitable to your condition .....


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