British Lung Foundation
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Air trapping

For the past week or so I have been struggling with what I think is air trapping. It feels like getting squashed from within. Sitting upright is downright unpleasant as it feels like I am bending over my ribs. I (feel like I) need to take big "gulps" of air to get enough, but at the same time I am risking to hyperventilate due to the slow emptying of air from the lungs.

Sounds familiar to fellow members with emphysema?

11 Replies

Hi the MissMoeller ,nice to meet you. This might sound a tad weird, but my ex was complaining of severe pains which he said were similar to when he broke a rib or two a few years ago. After seeing g our Doctor it turned out to be wind, trapped wind and he was given the equivalent of Rennie's, indigestion chewy tablets. This is only a thought,I'm no medical person, just sharing an experience. Hope you get some relief soon.


Hi missmoeller, have you tried the pursed lip breathing technique to see if that helps ........breathe in gently, not deeply , through your nose .....then out gently, through your mouth with pursed lips for a longer time.......repeat a few times.

Try and breathe gently at other times with a relaxed diaphragm.....belly breathing not tight upper chest .....low and slow.

I would try an indigestion remedy too ,as squirrelsHolt suggests.....I use Gaviscon at night.


What meds are you on? Yep trapped wind can feel the same... side effect of Spiriva (maybe other bronchodilators too) for those susceptible. Try belching it out and take a couple of senokot, avoid gassy/acid creating foods for a bit - sprouts, cabbage, salads coffee alcohol etc. If you've got a juicer carrot juice is good, too.

And don't ignore the pursed lips thing, JIC.


Thanks for the input guys.

I don't think it is related to gas, but that was actually a good point that I hadn't considered.

I use Ultibro Breezhaler, and I have just had a cold. My best guess is that it is due to even narrower airways than usual combined with "bad breathing" - so thanks for reminding me of the pursed lip breathing.

I normally do have a lot if air-trapping (hyperinflation) my residual volume (RV) is around 200%...



Not certain how long you've been having lung issues. What is your history/diagnosis up to now. If you're new to this, I'd first guess anxiety issues. Most initial reactions cause a lot of attention on ones breathing...and that stress can be very difficult. If you're a year into this, then your intuition might be working for you. Even an acute onset can trigger air starvation reactions. What specifically do you have that you know of?


Thanks for your input.

I was diagnosed with panlobular emphysema five months ago. Quite sudden onset, and it is rather progressed with large bullae in the lower lobe. Still a mystery to the doctors how I ended up with it, as I have never smoked or been exposed to pollution. I don't have Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency either.

Luckily I am not prone to anxiety issues. I consider it a great gift to be able to stay positive whilst dealing with all the unknown factors a diagnosis like this brings with it.

That said, I still have to get used to the fact that I am no longer able to breathe like I used to. When it was discovered back in June it took some getting use to not take these deep breaths, that you by instinct do when feeling that you don't get enough air. I think I have managed quite well, that's why I was a bit puzzeld that this sensation of more air-trapping occured.


Have you told your doctor?

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I was about to contact my pulmo doctor for advice after it had lasted for a week or so (thought it wasn't really an emergency, so hesitated a bit) but now it's gotten a lot better. Still have the uncomfortable feeling at my ribs though, think I will give her a call.

Was just curious to hear if anyone else with emphysema had experienced anything similar...


Well I have emphysema and my doctor has asked me questions about stuff like this but I have not suffered the problem. Please let us know what the doctor says..


Will keep you posted 👍

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Punkyb, I asked my gp about this today, but she didn't really have a clear answer. Her best guess was that it was muscular pain. She didn't reckoned that one could have ocasionally more airtrapping than usual. Another guess was that it could also be pain from the lung membrane, but not the lung itself.

Anyway it is gone again, so I haven't really done more research on the topic.

If it is due to progression of the disease, i.e. increased RV, I will know when going to the next check in January. Fingers crossed that it isn't...


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