We are going to share a comprehensive study on breath shortness, like home remedies for shortness of breath.
In terms of survival, four things are considered to be very necessary. Those four things are air, water, food, and safe shelter. Without any of these four things, the life of human beings can become vulnerable. In terms of survival there is always a rule named the” rule of 3’ This rule implies that a person can live for a maximum of 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food.
In such a scenario we see that breathing air is vital for our existence. But now a lot of cases are coming up where there is a report of shortness of breath. So, in this article, we will discuss its causes, cures, and what to do and not to do in such scenarios.
Causes of Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath; in medical lingo referred to as Dyspnea is an emerging case in the present times. Shortness of breath or Dyspnea itself is a broad topic and definitely has a broad spectrum of its causes. There can be many reasons behind this. The affected parts in this scenario obviously belong to the respiratory system. The causes associated with shortness of breath are as follows:-
1) Bronchial Asthma – It is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, as a result of allergic reactions initiated by exposure to allergens (Substance causing allergies like brinjal, peanut, mites, pollen, feathers, etc.) or stress. On inhalation of allergic substances, the mast cells in our body signal the production of histamine as an immune response. This leads to the contraction of bronchial muscles and increases mucus secretion.
Asthma is characterized by variable and recurring symptoms like shortness of breath (breathlessness), wheezing cough, and chest tightness. Symptoms often worsen during the night or in the early morning, or in response to a cold climate or little to rigorous physical activity.
2) Occupational Respiratory Disorder – This occurs mainly due to micro-particles and SPM from various air-polluting agents. This is common among residents of industrial zones, or people working in industries like the asbestos industry that have a high rate of SPM emission. Due to excessive dust produced in these industries, the body fails to cope with the situations and thus, gives rise to fibrosis as an immune response, thereby causing serious lung and airway damage generally characterized by shortness of breath.
3) Emphysema – This is caused by cigarette smoking that leads to chronic bronchitis. In this disease, terminal bronchioles get obstructed due to smoking, reducing the ventilation of the alveoli. This leads to the collapse of many alveoli to form large chambers due to the destruction of their walls. Thus, the alveolar surface for the respiratory exchange of Oxygen and Carbon dioxide is reduced. Early symptoms of it include chest pain, shortness of breath, feeling and feeling drowsy. Years of smoking may aggravate the condition acutely to suffocate the patient to death. Emphysema along with Bronchial Asthma is known as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).
4) Anxiety or Panic attack – Anxiety or the sense of uncertainty or fear is ultimately a mental state of human beings but during anxiety cortisol hormone is released which is capable enough to interfere with different human physiological systems. Cortisol hormone leads to breathlessness for a certain period of time.
5) Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) – It is a condition when the heart does not pump enough blood that is required by the body due to this blood and fluids collect in the lungs and legs over time. This is characterized by tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, and swelling in the legs.
6) Asphyxia or suffocation – This condition occurs when the room or the area where the person is present does not have proper ventilation which leads to the accumulation of Carbon dioxide and other gases that makes breathing tough and leads to suffocation.
This is more common among claustrophobic people and occurs in places like crowded public transport, crowded malls, etc. Suffocation also occurs due to Carbon monoxide poisoning and cyanide poisoning.
Suffocation can cause a person to faint and even die at certain times.
7) Hypoxia – It is the deficiency of oxygen in the body tissues. It occurs during mountain climbing or at high altitudes. It is characterized by breathlessness, headache, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
8) Viral or bacterial infection – Infection in cases of Pneumonia, Tuberculosis, or Influenza caused by certain strains of bacteria and viruses leads to shortness of breath as the airway and lungs are affected by the infection.
9) Apnea – A common breathing problem caused due to loosening of muscles in the throat. These loose muscles sometimes obstruct the airway, making it difficult to breathe.
Precaution to be Taken for Shortness of Breath
As per the saying “Prevention is better than Cure” we can follow certain precautions to keep these problems away. This would be both beneficial for us and our family as most of the infective causes are highly communicable and moreover, we do not have to bear the unbearable pain caused by the above-mentioned diseases. So these are a few easy-to-follow and pocket-friendly precautions that can be readily followed:
1) Use a mask – A mask is readily available in the market and the price of a mask is also pocket friendly. Moreover, the 2020 and 2022 Covid pandemic situation has made us all well aware of the usage of masks. Masks not only safeguard us from harmful bacteria or viruses but also from industrial and other pollutants. Even today when we have entered a pandemic-free post-pandemic era we should use masks while on the roads or high emission zones. Factory workers should keep a special concern about wearing masks. This is one of the healthiest practices, but please do not use masks always if you are affected with breathlessness, use only as per requirements.
2) Avoid Smoking; both direct and passive – Smoking is the worst enemy of our respiratory system. Smoke, not only from cigarettes but of any kind like burning dried leaves, dry waste, etc. is hazardous for our lungs, especially the alveoli and the lining of bronchioles. So, it is better not to smoke and to always stay away from smoking as much as possible.
If faced with an unavoidable situation where there is profuse smoke due to any reason, then take a cloth soak it with water, squeeze the excess water, and tie it around your face like a mask covering your nose and mouth. This will protect you from harmful gases, especially the Carbon monoxide released due to incomplete combustion.
3) Spreading Self-Awareness and educating people – Self-Awareness on a mass scale And educating the masses plays a vital role in the control and prevention of every disease.
Few self-awareness tips –
i) Encouraging the use of LPG and electricity as fuel rather than using wood or kerosene, by the government and individuals can bring a positive impact on reducing pollution.
ii) Education about the harmful effects of smoking should be spread among children by teachers.
iii) Environmentalists should encourage industries to provide protective gear to the workers and use technologies like electrostatic precipitates to reduce SPM emissions.
4) Avoid chilled items – Cold items like ice creams and chilled water from the refrigerator trigger sinus response and thus the airway gets laden with more mucus that leads to problems in breathing. It can also cause swelling of the tonsils and a choking feeling in the throat. Rather than ice-chilled water from the refrigerator, matka (water storage made of burnt mud) water can be an alternative healthy choice.
5) Avoid using harsh perfumes or smells – Harsh smells from perfumes or other fragrance products can cause a lot of problems if someone is suffering from shortness of breath as it causes problems in natural breathing and might trigger a response in chemoreceptors of the nose-enhancing the problem more. So, it is better not to use harsh or any fragrance at all if you or someone in your vicinity is suffering from shortness of breath.
General cure of Dyspnea
The general cure for Dyspnea in modern medical science includes the use of various medical procedures like fluid drainage from the lungs in case of CHF, pulmonary surgeries, and the use of medications like antibiotics and bronchodilators to suppress or provide instant relief to the patient. These methodologies do not solve the root cause and are only required in times of serious problems like severe CHF or asthma. The majority of the problems are on a minor scale and can easily be eradicated from the root just by a few proven age-old remedies. These remedies are cost-efficient and also protect from the chronic side effects of medication.
Home Remedies for Shortness of Breath
These remedies will surely help in overcoming shortness of breath in just a few months. These are safe, convenient pocket friendly, and most importantly side – effect free. The remedies are –
1) Losing weight – Losing weight can sometimes be a great start to solving shortness of breath. An excess fat-free body is light and has the proper circulation of blood. For details on weight loss, you can visit this link
2) Breathing Exercise – Age-old breathing exercises like anulom-vilom and kapal bhati are proven methods to improve breathing, restore energy in the body, remove fatigue, and achieve the desired healthy airway. You can search for the video of anulom- vilom and kapal bhati yoga on YouTube and can easily perform it daily in the morning. Simple deep lip breathing frequently a day will also help.
3) Posture Therapy – There are few posture practices that can help reduce shortness of breath, especially in the case of COPD.
i) Tripod stance – This stance is known to create more space in your chest cavity for the expansion of the lungs.
For this, first, relax the muscles of your neck and shoulders and sit on a chair. Now slowly lean forward with your elbows resting on your thighs in a comfortable position and your body making a tilt at 60 degrees from the support of the chair.
A few other breathing aid positions are also shown in the image. These positions will definitely help get instant relief from breathlessness.
ii) Comfortable sleep position – For a comfortable sleep and to avoid apnea place two pillows below your head and one pillow below your knees such that your head is elevated, but your back is straight.
4) Drinking Ginger juice – Ginger is the best natural bronchodilator. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties and thus will help both in respiratory tract allergy and any type of shortness of breath. It can be consumed daily at any time but consumes only 10 ml once a day.
5) Vapor inhalation – Vapor inhalation with medicinal camphor placed in the steaming water will help remove the excess mucus on the airway and will help fight infection in the respiratory system. Lukewarm moist vapors will also help to dilate the airway for easy exchange of gases.
6) Proper balanced and healthy diet – The most common yet the most effective remedy that you will see in case of every disease. A balanced diet is the ultimate medicine for the body. Nutrition that we take from the diet is the building block of our body. So, a balanced diet helps increase immunity and keeps every problem away.
7) Drinking lukewarm water at intervals – As we know how dangerous cold or chilled water from the refrigerator is for our respiratory system it is to be noted that On the other hand, lukewarm water is best not only for our airway but for our overall health. It does the same function as vapor inhalation but also aids with weight loss and proper digestion.
8) Drinking coffee – Coffee is quite a strong stimulant and a kick-start for many at the beginning of the day. This coffee also suppresses certain responses that lead to constriction of airways thereby helping in stopping shortness of breath. But remember that consuming stimulants continuously is not at all beneficial for health. So, take coffee in a limited amount only and prefer black coffee over coffee with milk. Do not consume coffee after 12 noon as it may interfere with your sleeping cycle. Having coffee 4 to 5 times a week is all ok, just do not consume it daily. One best practice can be having coffee each of the alternate days.
In the present time, we are in a post covid era. Though the number of cases has been suppressed, it is to be noted that still we are not covid free. As shortness of breath is also a covid symptom, we cannot completely overlook the covid factor. But there is nothing to worry about every shortness of breath is not a signal of covid as there are few other associated covid symptoms accompanied by these that can help you differentiate covid from other factors of Dyspnea. These symptoms are:
1) Covid is characterized by tastelessness i.e., not feeling any taste on the tongue (taste buds).
2) Covid follows up with loose motion.
These two symptoms can be the differentiating factor of covid from other factors of Dyspnea.
Note for readers: Generally, the problem of shortness of breath will take time to be cured but will surely show some improvement after 2 or 3 months. But if you do not see any improvement or face certain serious issues then do not delay and visit the nearest hospital or medical facility for immediate help as soon as possible.
Q1. Precaution to be taken for shortness of breath
Not often but sometimes, especially in case of apnea during deep sleep because at that time, it is hard to be in senses and act fast or immediately call for help.
Q2. Is shortness of breath communicable?
Mostly no but if the root cause is infection then it can be communicable. It is always better to take precautions.