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British Lung Foundation
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Dysfunctional Breathing?

Hi,

I was wondering if anybody here suffers with dysfunctional breathing, my consultant has said I have it following pneumonia and its the cause of my breathlessness. I was wondering if anyone has it. I start physio soon and am hoping this will help me get back to normal.

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My doctor said same THINK if you manage your stress anxiety better things will improve.

Best luck with physio rehab stuff

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I was told that I was over breathing or hyperventilating years ago in hospital too.

Gentle nasal breathing has helped me.

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hi I have chronic hyperventilation and dysfunctional breathing it's not always caused by anxiety etc mine is caused by years of chronic asthma. I had physio which was very helpful

Lejaya

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I hyperventilated without realising it until I went on a PR course. That helped me identify what I was doing and then I had the expert guidance to help me stop doing it. Wonderful course.

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Just remembered another aspect of dysfunctional breathing .......one doctor , when listening to my chest said there was little air intake in the bottom of my lungs, I was upper chest breathing with tight muscles. Breathing the ' wrong way round' ......that is stomach in on the in breath and breathing with tight upper chest, hard work!

My asthmatic daughter was doing the same. It should be stomach out on the in breath with relaxed belly and diaphragm....low relaxed, gentle breathing .

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Thank you for your replies, it’s not anything I’d heard of before.

My Doctor thinks I am not using my right lung or getting enough air in to it and I need to re train my breathing. I’ve got another chest infection again and they said this could be because I’m not clearing my lungs properly.

I’ve also got a really high heart rate that they were going to start me on medication for after having a 48 hour heart monitor, but now they say it’s connected to the dysfunctional breathing. Fingers crossed the physio will work for me!

Thank you again for all your replies.

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Hi Frizzle,

I don't want to be rude about your consultant, but how on earth do you consciously decide to get more air into your right lung?! I wouldn't have thought it was possible for us to get more air into one lung over the other. Did you find their advice useful? I get a bit cynical about consultants sometimes, have a good one at the moment but seen quite a few bad ones...!

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I am sure physio will be very helpful. I have similar problem and have just started a course of gentle yoga which concentrates on breath control and general chest/shoulder tension. I have been to only two sessions but cannot praise it too highly. I hope you might be able to find a course in your area.

If not I believe there are specialist private operators In this field who could offer individual attention.

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Thank you for the yoga recommendation I hadn’t thought of that.

ccccc- to be honest I agree with you and struggle to have faith with my consultant anymore.

For months she’s been saying I’m a medical mystery I was totally fit and healthy before this (apart from a bit overweight) I’ve never smoked just turned 40 but now I struggle doing basic things like having a shower. I haven’t been able to work since this started.

Yesterday I saw a registrar first who said they need to start me on medication for my tachycardia asap, she said I’d have to have a repeat bronchoscopy because my last one had to be abondoned I couldn’t stand it.

I’ve got my 3rd infection since being admitted for 6 days with pneumonia in June. I was very sick and ended up in resus when I was admitted in June. I was then on steroids for months after.

I agreed to the bronchoscopy and she went to discuss plan with my main consultant. After a while she came back and said change of plan your consultant discussed you with colleagues and you could have dysfunctional breathing and this could be causing all the symptoms. My lungs are out of sync with each other hence why my right lung isn’t getting enough air.

It totally confused me I’d never heard of this breathing thing before. And she said once I retrain my breathing my asthma will improve! Yet last appointment they said I didn’t have asthma but could have post infectious asthma. Yet I’m on ventolin and fostair. I’ve had a CT but my clinic letter says showed inflammation but wasn’t very clear as not a contrast CT. Yet she doesn’t want to repeat it. I’ve had lung function tests, X-rays, sputum samples, heart echo, 48 hour heart monitor, I’m on omeprazole and ranitidine to rule out if acid. Yet before this I never took anything and haven’t seen a doctor in years!

I really don’t understand it all I start physio Tuesday hopefully this will help! Its been a mad 6 months!

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It sounds like you've been through a stressful time with it all, the only thing I could suggest is, when they did the bronchoscopy did they do any washing in your lungs at the same time, where they wash some cells from your lungs to test? I had one a while ago (they are horrible aren't they) and they found eosinophils, which are white blood cells that are a sign of inflammation and therefore proof of asthma. It might be worth asking about that. I don't think they can do CT scans too close together because of the radiation risk so that maybe why they don't want to do another one. I've never heard of lungs being out of sync with each other and I don't know they'd measure that. I suppose the only think you could do is ask your GP for a referral to another hospital as it sounds like they aren't sure what's going on.

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Thank you, it’s funny you’re the third person today to suggest I should get a second opinion.

They attempted a bronchoscopy in July but I couldn’t stand the tube in my throat the sedation failed to have any effect and I was fully aware of everything I thought in was going to choke!

My heart rate went too high so they abandoned it. The plan was to flush my lungs and take a biopsy, in the end they didn’t see further than my vocal chords. So to me when the doctor said the other day we need to repeat it I think that’s what they should be doing. But they’ve decided not too. Grrrrr I will see what physio say Tuesday and if they agree with what the doctor said.

But if not I might have to go back to GP and get a referral elsewhere.

Thank you again for taking the time to reply to me.

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Hi I know this was a while but I’ve been a medical mystery for a while as well I have reduced lung function at 67 % but always felt able to breath other then suddenly not being able to breathe Since December I have air trapping and stuff in my lungs but they compared a new ct and an old and and it showed no progression and after loads of tests I was sent to the brompton where they did more tests and my lung function is still the same and then she explained dysfunctional breathing to me and how your pattern can go out I also haven’t worked since this started as I’ve suffered really bad fatigue did you suffer from fatigue as well? I’ve seen a physio and she’s started retraining me how to breathe so hopefully it works, did it all work out for you in the end?

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