Breathlessness in medical terminology is called dyspnea. Feeling breathless is a symptom that most of us may have experienced sometime or the other, although this feeling can vary in intensity. It can be mild, moderate or severe. Often when you climb stairs speedily or when you are anxious you may experience shortness of breath. In such situation breathing returns to normal with rest. The aforementioned feeling is physiological but dyspnea can be a symptom of a disease, mainly pertaining to lungs. However, sometimes it can be of cardiac origin or some other condition.A person suffering from breathlessness may feel tightness in his chest or suffocation. People suffering from severe breathlessness use neck and chest muscles for respiration. It may be accompanied with other symptoms such as chest pain, cough, thick yellow or bloody sputum, wheezing, etc.
Causes of Dyspnea in Morning:
Breathlessness can occur during exertion or at rest. A person may feel dyspnea at any time of the day. Breathing difficulty in morning can occur due to following reasons:
- Asthma: Asthma is respiratory illness caused due to narrowing and swelling of the inner lining of the air passage. It also leads to increased mucus production further aggravating the condition. Patient suffering from asthma experiences difficulty in breathing, wheezing, and constriction in the chest. Shortness of breath often occurs early in the morning in patients suffering from asthma.
- Anemia: Anemia is a condition in which there is reduced amount of red blood cells. This may lead to low hemoglobin in the red blood cells. The red blood cells carry oxygen to each and every cell. Mild anemia may remain asymptomatic. However, if anemia is severe the body may try its level best to maintain adequate oxygen level and in doing so patient may experience breathlessness, which can occur in morning or at any time.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): People suffering from COPD such as emphysema may experience shortness of breath in morning. In emphysema the air sacs in the lungs gets slowly reduced in size. Hence the capacity of air in lung decreases.
- Congestive cardiac failure: Heart failure caused due to enlargement of heart. It is a chronic condition caused due to long standing hypertension. Weakened heart is not able to pump enough blood all over body. Thus it causes reduced oxygenation and resultant breathlessness, especially in morning.
- Pregnancy: A woman during her third trimester often feels distressed breathing because of enlarged size of uterus. The expanding uterus exerts pressure on diaphragm and lungs making it difficult to breathe. A pregnant woman may feel breathing difficulty in morning or any time of day.
Other causes of difficulty in breathing are obesity, high blood pressure, allergy, exposure to increased pollution etc.
Treatment of breathing difficulty in morning depends on the underlying cause. If a person suddenly experiences difficulty in breathing without any cause, he must keep calm and try to find the cause triggering this problem. He must not panic and try to relax his muscles. If the underlying cause is asthma, patient has to take medications as prescribed by his physician. In case of breathlessness caused due to COPD, diaphragmatic breathing is beneficial. This type of breathing is easy. Person must lie on his back. Breathe in through his nose till he feels his abdomen is fully expanded. After that he has to breathe out through his mouth to empty his lungs. Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times to strengthen the lungs. Pursed lip breathing is also effective technique to reduce shortness of breath. Steam inhalation is useful to liquefy mucus from air passage. Anemia can be corrected with iron supplements.