Dysfunctional Breathing

What is it?

Dysfunctional breathing is a prolonged loss of the normal pattern of breathing meaning that your breathing becomes less efficient. This leads to breathing either more quickly or more deeply in order to maintain normal oxygen levels within the body. These sorts of changes in breathing can happen naturally such as when you are exercising or when you are stressed.
It is only when this pattern is maintained long term that symptoms may develop.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms can be quite wide ranging. They include, breathlessness, increased yawning or sighing, tension in the shoulders and neck, fatigue, pins and needles in your hands or lips and difficulty concentrating. They occur as a result of changes in the levels of carbon dioxide within the body.

What causes it?

Whilst it is not always clear what causes dysfunctional breathing.
There are however a number of common triggers listed below:

  • Long term respiratory illnesses, particularly asthma.
  • Previous Chest infections.
  • Pain or injury, particularly if it affects the middle of the back.
  • Conditions that lead to acid reflux for example a hiatus hernia.
  • Stress or anxiety.

However, it is possible for dysfunctional breathing to develop without any of these triggers being present.

What can I do about it?

Retraining your breathing to become more efficient is the main treatment. There are some breathing tips and exercises as well as some more information that can help in the video below. 

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