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Asthma

Feels like I am Not Getting Enough Air

11/09/2010

Question:

I`m a 15 year old girl and I sometimes feel like I`m not getting enough air. It happens quite often and I have to take deep breaths in order to breathe normally again. It happens at night and when I`m in the back of my classroom at school. Plus I am an active teen with no other problems. 

Answer:

It is amazing how difficult it is to “breathe normally” when you are thinking about your breathing, rather than letting it occur naturally. The symptoms you describe are not typical for problems caused by the lungs not working correctly. They do happen when folks are worrying about their breathing or breathing using a method that does not work well.

It is much easier to get a normal breath of air if you use your diaphragm to breath, rather than just your rib cage. If you are correctly using your diaphragm, your stomach should bulge out a bit when you inhale. A description of how to breathe with your diaphragm can be found here.

I would recommend that you try this breathing method anytime you feel like you are not getting enough air. I suspect it will relieve your symptoms quickly. If you keep having difficulty, the next step would be to see your doctor for further evaluation and suggestions.

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Response by:

Elizabeth D Allen, MD Elizabeth D Allen, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University