British Lung Foundation

Mystery Breathlessness

Hi. I'm a newbie and I'm looking for some support. I've been suffering from breathlessness for 3 weeks now and after a raft of tests, most causes have been ruled out. I'm feeling fed up as I get out of breath just going to the loo and I've been off work all this time. I feel fine when loafing on the sofa and I'd like to go back to work but without knowing what's wrong or how long it will take to get better.

19 Replies

As we don't know what is wrong with you nor what tests you have has done nor what the results of those tests were.

You really aught to make an appointment to discuss this with your GP. Obviously they do not think you have an infection or they would have prescribed antibiotics.

I get out of breath laying in bed but then I do have a diagnosed reason and so can receive treatment. Until you get a diagnosis your treatment cannot begin.

What is your current blood oxygen level at rest and after activity? What is your blood pressure at rest and after activity. Not all breathlessness is caused by lung conditions. Rib


Have you been tested for asthma if not you might need a spray to open your airway its helped me I have same problems


Have you been tested for anaemia at all? Low iron levels can cause breathlessness .

Can you let us know what tests you have had.

Take care and hope you get better soon


how is your thyroid hope that is spelt right. racey.


Good morning Lizum. Have you thought of having your heart tested to see if it is working ok? I have been taken to hospital, under a blue light, 5 times now in the last three months. They believe that it has been my heart not working on all cylinders that has been the problem. I am being monitored at home now and am feeling a whole lot better.

Go and see your doctor and tell him of your concerns and keep pushing until you see a cardiologist. Nothing to lose but a whole lot to gain.

PS I am a 68 year old male who has had COPD for a number of years now. Go for it Lizum!


As the others have said it can be many things that cause breathlessness. Things like pets, dodgy appliances cleaning aids etc. Some medications can cause this. I have heart and lung problems some of which can give the same symptoms.

From my experiences I would be looking for a spirometry test to exactly how my lungs are performing. An Xray and a full blood test and ECG. To start!

I hope you get it sorted.

Be Well


Hi. I've seen the GP four times and was referred to the respiratory clinic for further investigation.

So far I've had:

- chest x-Ray (normal)

- two eggs (normal)

- blood tests (normal) (lots of things tested inc. signs of heart attack)

- blood oxygen at rest and when walking (normal)

- anti-biotics (no effect)

- steroids (no effect)

I have asthma which has always been well controlled.

I'm not really looking for a diagnosis, but some moral support that it will get better!


I am gonna go out on a limb here and say .......... you did mean ecg not two eggs :)


Yes (


Hi Lizum , yes, I agree with many of the other "Repliers" - get things checked out, its NOT the end of the world, nor the end of you ! - most of us have been puffing away for years ! and are still getting through life with all it attendant problems , so go for it, as they used to say " A CREAKING HINGE HANGS ON THE LONGEST " !! - Good luck ...


what a brilliant saying :D


Hi Lizum,

Have you ever heard of Dysfunctional Breathing? I have COPD and was told by my doctor that I had stage 2 and then a few weeks ago I saw a consultant who said her spirometry reading on me showed stage 1. However, I get out of breath just sitting still which is apparently not normal at only stage 1 or 2. She has written to my doctor, who I am seeing next week, suggesting that I also am likely to have Dysfunctional Breathing. I have been looking that up on the internet as she never discussed this with me at the appointment. I first knew about it in a letter she sent me, a copy of what she has sent my doctor. I learned on the internet it that when you suffer from Dysfunctional Breathing you need physiotherapy in order to retrain your breathing. This can apparently take 6-8 weeks of therapy. I have never heard of this and am hoping that my doctor has a plan of action for me when I see her. Also, have you considered a food allergy? I am studying diet & nutrition and some allergies can cause breathlessness and chest pain. Spend some time researching both the Dysfunctional Breathing and Food allergies. Anita.


The lung consultant did mention that it might be habit I've got into after having a cold. They'll know more after more detailed assessment of my breathing but I have to wait a few weeks for an appointment.


Breathlessness is also a symptom of Vitamin B12 deficiency. Look up the list of symptoms on the Pernicious Anaemia web site and tick off how many you have got. You may be surprised. Good luck.


Hi Lizum, you say that you are an asthmatic....have any of your inhalers been changed recently? I have found that some medications make me tight chested.

Are you hyperventilating without realising it perhaps breathing through your mouth rather than gently through your nose to help warm and filter the air. You could try pursed lip breathing, and trying to breathe with a relaxed diaphragm .

Hope you find the answer soon, best wishes


There's been no change to my asthma medication (unless the formulation has changed without me knowing)


Hi Lizum, do you have a productive cough at all? The reason I ask is that I have Bronchiectasis and with that comes breathlesness when moving around. For me it wasnt picked up on the first CT scan I had but 4 years later it showed up and I finally knew what I have.


Hi lizum I know how you are feeling I have been breathless and have chest pain, mainly now on left side for 8 mths they thought it was sarcoidosis as my ace enzyme was very high but could not find any nodules I have had many tests but no answers ,keep asking for answers and demand tests thinking of you.


Hi Lizum, I have had c.o.p.d. for a few years now and have just had a check up with Papworth,who said my chest is the best its been for quite a while. I have been getting very breathless very quickly my heart rate when relaxed is between 78 bpm to 86 bpm. If I get up to walk to my kitchen which is only seven steps away from my chair my heart rate goes up to about 109 bpm to119 bpm, which in turn makes me so breathless I am hanging on to the sink edge trying to get my heart rate down, so that I can get back to my chair. On speaking to my Mum she suggested that it could be what she had, that her sinus node had gone out of sync. this node apparently regulates your heart beat. My Dr has sent me for an appointment to see exactly what is causing the problem this Friday so I will let you know. I thought I would share this with you as when I have asked my G.P about this he dismisses it as anxiety because I lost my husband last year. He kept giving me antidepressants and lorazepam and basically told me to get on with it. I hope this opens up another train of thought! Best Wishes to you

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