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British Lung Foundation
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Shortness of breath but nothing shows in tests?

For about a month now I've gradually had more and more trouble breathing. However, nothing showed up in any tests. My oxygen levels are 99-100%, peak flow is a little under but nothing of concern, nothing wrong showed on blood tests, an x-ray I had was perfectly clear and fine. I've tried sleeping pills to calm me down and help me sleep but it hasn't helped. I have struggled with anxiety the past few years but for 2 months now I had no anxiety symptoms, so this sort of came out the blue but over a course of a month, to the point where it's gotten painful and very unpleasant. I also had asthma when I was little but have had no trouble for years. The doctor gave me an inhaler to try but it didn't make any difference what so ever, only increased the adrenaline in my body, making me very shaky and weak.

I was wondering if there was anything a hospital could do make it easier for me to breathe or to ease the discomfort. I feel like I'm trying so much to relax and steady my breathing with yoga, meditation, dog walks, early nights etc. but nothing is helping. I'm pretty desperate at this point.

4 Replies

Do you do pursed lip breathing HattyStarling? It's a breathing technique which helps you breathe out more fully. You don't say if you have a current diagnosis but with copd and asthma breathing out is the problem, not breathing in, so maybe that would apply to you too. There are youtubes so you can google PLB and other breathing techniques like diaphragmatic breathing. Also 'blow and go' is a useful technique - it has helped me climb stairs which was beginning to be very hard - again probably a youtube for that.

Whatever, please go back to your GP and tell her/him the inhaler isn't working. Id have thought there's no point taking it if it just makes you feel unwell but doesn't help your breathing, though if it contains steroids, these take a while to be effective - presumably your doc would have said if this were so. If the GP can't do anything to help, ask for a referral to a respiratory consultant or if this is not possible, then a second opinion from a GP with special interest in respiratory problems.


Gentle pursed lip breathing as recommended by O2Trees can be very useful in my case.

I also tend to hyperventilate, and gentle belly breathing with a relaxed diaphragm ...breathing through the nose only so I am not breathing with big gulping breaths with a tight upper chest and shoulders can help.

Was the inhaler you were given just a bronchodilator such as Ventolin or did it have a preventer steroid element as well? Again as O2Trees says the preventer can take a time to work.

I often find that my O2 levels can be OK , but I am still breathless....I would go back to your health professional and explain how you feel.

1 like

Hi, ive been feeling exactly the same and had another spiro yesterday which showed up roughly the same as the last one yet im outta breath regardless of how far i go. It feels like its getting worse and any exertion triggers it. I am not sure my doctor can do anything more than he is so im confused too. You arnt alone

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Hi Hatty-see your dr and get a referral to cardiologist--It may be your heart--If heart is not working to full capacity blood cannot carry enough oxygen throughout body and that causes air hunger manifested by shortness of breath--I had this--and was dxed with heart failure--People forget the workings of the heart are instrumental in good breathing and oxygenation--Just check it out --I am now on o2 24/7--heart has gotten stronger with meds and 02 but im still struggling with some lung issues and have a-fib--even tho my breath tests were normal--Good luck--MmeT Quitting smoking sent me spiraling into all this --Keep me posted


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