Holding My Breath

Hi All!

I'm not sure if anyone experienced similar but looking for some feedback. Two weeks ago I took a Pulmonary Function Test. While taking the test I was asked to hold my breath. I noticed I immediately felt something wrong in my chest. It felt like panick but it also felt like I had to breathe like NOW or I was going to faint. So today I decided to hold my breath and both times I IMMEDIATELY felt like I was going to faint if I didn't breathe. I felt awful afterwards as well for like 5-10 mins. Has anyone dealt with this? If so what was it? This can't be normal. I used to be able to hold my breath no problem. Now something is definitely wrong. Anyhow if any of you have experience with this or can shed some light I'm all ears. I sent a message to my docs today as well. Thanks in advance for any input. 


Holding breath

by Persephone - 2022-02-15 19:34:57

Hi arentas80 - I'm not sure what the pulmonary function test would have consisted of.  All I can share is that I was extremely anxious in most of my interactions with my medical team over the past couple of years - heck, I still feel anxious going twice per week to my workplace.  Could anxiety have been a factor?  Hope you're feeling OK now.


Dysfunctional breathing patterns?

by Gemita - 2022-02-16 09:51:05

Hello Alejandro,

How are you?  I am glad you have had lung function tests to hopefully rule out lung problems as a cause for your continuing symptoms.  Have you had the results yet? 

As a matter of fact lung function tests can be very difficult to tolerate, even for those of us with strong lungs and hearts.  Holding our breath is not something that we do often or naturally, nor is blowing hard for long periods and when we have to do it forcibly, I am not surprised that it can cause many unwanted symptoms, like blood pressure/heart rate falls which can lead to fainting.  In fact fainting is a known complication of Spirometry (an important part of lung function testing).  So what you felt during testing wouldn’t have been so abnormal.  BUT to continue to feel this way with your breathing patterns in your daily life is not normal and needs looking into. 

There is a condition known as “Dysfunctional breathing” and I attach a link for further reading (you will need to copy and paste into your main browser).  There is a lot that can be done to help if it is ultimately felt that you may have developed abnormal breathing patterns that can lead to ill health.  A respiratory physiotherapist can be very helpful in assessing you, in providing guidance on how to breathe correctly, what treatments are available and how to overcome any bad breathing patterns you may have developed, for whatever reason - heart, lung, stress, other.  When we over breathe for instance it affects gas exchange and causes problems like respiratory alkalosis.  It is a very very common problem Alejandro, if you ask your doctors. 


My husband has developed poor breathing habits where he can over breathe, rather like hyperventilating and this condition can really affect him.  He has been hospitalised many times due respiratory alkalosis (when levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood are not balanced).  I am not trying to suggest any of this applies to you Alejandro, but it is worth telling your doctor about any breathing problems you may have noticed?  Your symptoms don't sound to me as though they are getting any better, or that you are receiving the treatment you need.  But you will get there.  This is part of the journey to a better understanding of why your symptoms are occurring.

Persephone, I have attached a link about lung function tests from our British Lung Foundation in case you wish to read further.  You will need to copy and paste into your main browser.


Talk to the pulmonologist then relax

by Gotrhythm - 2022-02-16 14:21:27

I asume since you had a pulmonary function test, you have a pulmonolgist. That's the person you should be asking what's going on with your breathing.

Of neccessity, pulmonologists know a lot about how cardiac issues interact with breathing.  I had beeen seen by several cardiologists, and hot-potatoed to a pulmonologist because they couldn't find a cause for my symptoms. It was the pulmonologist who suspected SSS and ordered my first ever Holter monitor test.

In the meantime do your best to hang on to your serenity. No amount of stress will get the answers sooner or improve your condition.

For right now, you are breathing. Since none of us are promised tomorrow, breathing now is as good as it gets.

What they said

by TLee - 2022-02-16 20:20:58

I can't add a whole lot to what has already been said, except to describe my personal experiences with PFT. I have COPD & asthma, so I see a pulmonologist regularly. I have yearly pulonary function tests. The first time I went, I had a technician that must have been late for lunch or something. He did not explain very clearly what was expected of me, and rushed me through some of the tests, only to re-do them because they didn't look right. I left the office feeling absolutely horrible, and on the way to the parking garage I actually got so dizzy I went head first into a large potted plant! So, feeling the way you describe after the tests is not unusual. For my most recent tests I had a lovely tech who put me at ease right away. We even had some nice chats between tests. I still felt a bit breathless after she put me through my paces, but not seriously so. I think that the others are correct about anxiety being behind the way you feel since completing the testing. For example, I have been experiencing shortness of breath on exertion (for reasons yet to be determined--another story). I had stopped exercising for some time because I was terrified that I might trigger a more serious episode. I know that I need to exercise for both my lung and heart health, so I started walking again, only to feel the shortness of breath that I dreaded. However, when someone sugdested I take my pulse oximeter along & see if my O2 level actually dropped, I realized that it remained at a good level. I also utilize some breathing techniques that are helpful. If you are having the tests because of suspected pulmonary problems, there are websites for these too that can be helpful. Good health to you!  

Thank you All!

by arentas80 - 2022-02-16 22:41:47

Thank you all for taking the time to respond and providing your insights. I truly appreciate it. I also found out my PFT was normal. I see my primary tomorrow so I suspect we will go over it in more detail. Thanks again! 

Breath holding - lung function testing

by Selwyn - 2022-02-17 07:54:40

I have had quite a few lung function testing  ( with transfer factors, breathing in carbon monoxide mixture for cryptogenic organising pneumonia).

Holding your breath, especially if you do this with force, cuts off the venous return to the heart ( "Take a big breath in and hold it.")  This lowers the heart rate and can make you feel faint. There is then a catch up period of needing to increase your breathing to gain oxygen.

Bit of a problem with CAT scans!

 The problem is worse when snorkelling as the depth of water also compresses the chest further! 


You know you're wired when...

You have rhythm.

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