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Doctor shares worrying cause behind ‘air hunger’ and how to get rid of it

Doctor shares worrying cause behind ‘air hunger’ and how to get rid of it

There's a number of reasons why you might feel hungry for air

Being hungry for air almost sounds like the plot of a horror film, gasping for any bit of oxygen you can get as you starve away.

But ‘air hunger’ is a real thing with a doctor sharing the worrying cause behind it.

Ever feel like you can’t manage to get a full breath? Like you’re just trying to get a big breath full in but it just isn’t happening?

Medically known as Dyspnea, it’s that feeling of running out of air but not being able to breathe fast or deep enough to get it.

Cleveland Clinic explains that this shortness of breath has a number of causes.

And Dr Sarah Jarvis from told The Sun that it’s common in lung problems like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

There's a number of causes.
Getty Stock

“It can also be caused by heart problems, where the heart isn’t pumping out efficiently and isn’t getting oxygen-rich blood to the organs,” she said.

But the horrible feeling can also be a sign of anxiety.

Psychologist Dr Kirren Schnack explained in a TikTok: “One of the physical changes that anxiety causes in your body is the redirection of oxygen to large muscle groups.

“This means that the demand for oxygen increases.”

So, as you try to inhale more air, you then feel short of breath which ‘triggers even more anxiety about your breathing’.

Dr Schnack then gave advice on how to get rid of this air hunger caused by anxiety.

First, she recommends doing diaphragmatic breathing or ‘belly breathing’.

And then she says to ‘retrain your mind’ to shift the attention away from your breathing.

“You can start by doing that through a very simple exercise,” Dr Schnack explained.

“For example, closing your eyes and listening to the sounds around you for one minute and building that up to about three minutes each time you catch yourself over focusing and being preoccupied with your breathing.”

The doc gave tips on getting rid of the feeling.

Users recognised this feeling from their own experiences with anxiety as one said they’re ‘constantly trying to yawn and panicking because I can’t’.

Other common causes of shortness of breath are having a chest infection, being overweight and smoking.

The NHS advises that shortness of breath may not be something to worry about but can sometimes be serious and you’ll need to get medical help. If you have severe difficulty breathing or your chest feels tight or heavy, call 999 or go to A&E immediately.

If you're experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They're open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you're not comfortable talking on the phone.

Featured Image Credit: TikTok/Drkirren/Getty Stock Image

Topics: Health, TikTok, Mental Health