Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain and fatigue, but did you know it may also be associated with shortness of breath?
While shortness of breath is not a common symptom of fibromyalgia, it can be a source of discomfort and concern for those who experience it.
This article will explore the potential link between fibromyalgia and shortness of breath and how to manage this symptom.
Can Fibromyalgia Cause Shortness of Breath?
Yes, shortness of breath is a common symptom experienced by fibromyalgia patients. It is a feeling of not getting enough air, or you can’t catch your breath.
There are several causes of shortness of breath in fibromyalgia patients.
Fibromyalgia patients are more likely to experience anxiety and panic attacks, which can cause shortness of breath. When a person is anxious, their body goes into a fight or flight response, causing rapid breathing and shortness of breath.
Sleep apnea can lead to daytime fatigue and shortness of breath.
Additionally, fibromyalgia patients may experience chest wall pain or costochondritis, which is cartilage inflammation connecting the ribs to the breastbone. This can cause difficulty breathing and chest discomfort.
Medication Side Effects
Sometimes, shortness of breath may be a side effect of medication used to treat fibromyalgia, such as certain antidepressants. Talking to your doctor if you are experiencing shortness of breath, especially when taking medication, is essential.
Finally, fibromyalgia patients may also have comorbid conditions like COPD or asthma, which can cause shortness of breath.
Types of Shortness of Breath
Those are four additional types of shortness of breath:
This type of shortness of breath occurs when a person lies down flat and is relieved when they sit up or stand. It is often a symptom of heart failure or lung disease.
Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea
This sudden shortness of breath occurs at night, often waking the person from sleep. It may be caused by heart failure or other cardiac conditions.
This type of shortness of breath occurs when a person lies on one side but not the other. It may be a symptom of lung disease or heart failure.
This type of shortness of breath occurs when a person stands up and is relieved when they lie down. It may be caused by certain lung or heart conditions.
It is essential to know that shortness of breath can be a symptom of many different medical conditions, and the type of shortness of breath a person experiences may vary depending on the underlying cause.
Treatments for Shortness of Breath in Fibromyalgia
The treatment for shortness of breath in fibromyalgia patients will depend on the underlying cause of the symptom. Here are some possible treatments:
If anxiety is the cause of shortness of breath, treatment may involve medication, therapy, or relaxation methods such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.
Some medications used to treat fibromyalgia can cause shortness of breath; talking to your doctor is essential. They may adjust the dosage or switch you to a different medication to alleviate this symptom.
It’s crucial to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and promptly report any changes in symptoms or side effects to ensure that you receive the best possible treatment for your fibromyalgia.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
If sleep apnea is the cause, treatment may involve using a CPAP “continuous positive airway pressure” machine to help keep the airway open during sleep.
Chest wall Pain Management
If chest wall pain or costochondritis is the cause, treatment may involve over-the-counter pain relievers, hot or cold packs, or physical therapy.
Treatment for Comorbid Conditions
If shortness of breath is caused by comorbid conditions such as asthma or COPD, treatment may involve medication and lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or avoiding triggers.
When shortness of breath becomes severe and interferes with daily activities, oxygen therapy may be recommended for fibromyalgia patients.
Oxygen therapy involves breathing in pure oxygen through a mask or nasal cannula to increase the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream.
This can help reduce the workload on the heart and lungs, improve energy levels, and alleviate shortness of breath.
However, oxygen therapy should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional and is typically reserved for severe shortness of breath in fibromyalgia patients.
Natural Herbs for Shortness of Breath
Several natural herbs may help with shortness of breath. However, it is essential to note that natural remedies should never replace medical treatment.
It is always best to consult your doctor before using herbs or supplements.
Some herbs that have been traditionally used to help with shortness of breath include:
This herb has anti-inflammatory properties and may help open the airways. It can be used as an inhalant or added to hot water for steam inhalation.
This herb has anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce lung inflammation. It can be consumed fresh, as a tea, or as a supplement.
Mullein, a herb commonly used in traditional medicine, has expectorant properties that may help to relieve shortness of breath caused by excessive mucus in the lungs.
It reduces inflammation and promotes the expulsion of mucus from the airways. Mullein can be taken in various forms, such as tea, capsules, or tinctures.
However, it’s important to note that while mullein may help relieve shortness of breath, it should not replace medical treatment for underlying conditions causing this symptom.
This herb has anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties and may help to reduce inflammation in the lungs and clear mucus.
This herb has bronchodilator properties and may help to open up the airways. It should be used cautiously, as it can be toxic in large doses.
Always consult your doctor before using herbal remedies for shortness of breath or other health-related issues.
Tips to Alleviate Shortness of Breath Caused by Fibromyalgia
Here are some tips to help alleviate shortness of breath caused by fibromyalgia:
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can help reduce anxiety and calm the body, alleviating shortness of breath.
Specific triggers, such as smoke, pollution, and strong odors, can exacerbate shortness of breath. Avoiding these triggers can help reduce symptoms.
Drinking plenty of water can help keep the airways moist and reduce inflammation.
Regular exercise can help improve lung function and reduce shortness of breath. Consult with a healthcare provider before starting an exercise regimen.
Maintain Healthy Weight
Excess weight can put pressure on the lungs and exacerbate shortness of breath. Maintaining a healthy weight can help alleviate symptoms.
Use Proper Posture
Slouching can compress the lungs and make it difficult to breathe. Sitting up straight and using proper posture can help alleviate shortness of breath.
Smoking can damage the lungs and make it difficult to breathe. Quitting smoking can improve lung function and reduce shortness of breath.
Use a Humidifier
Investing in a humidifier may be helpful if you suffer from shortness of breath. Dry air cause irritates the airways and causes inflammation, making breathing difficult.
A humidifier adds moisture to the air, keeping the airways moist and reducing inflammation. This can alleviate shortness of breath and other respiratory symptoms.
It’s essential to keep the humidifier clean and change the water regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.
When to See a Doctor
See a doctor if you experience shortness of breath, mainly if it is persistent or worsening, which can be a symptom of a severe medical condition, such as heart disease, lung disease, or asthma.
Additionally, if you experience any of the following symptoms along with shortness of breath, seek medical attention immediately:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Rapid heart rate or irregular heartbeat
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Bluish tint to your skin or lips
These symptoms may indicate a severe medical emergency and require immediate medical attention.
How Is Shortness of Breath Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of shortness of breath will depend on the underlying cause of the symptom.
Your healthcare provider will likely perform a thorough physical examination and may also order additional tests. These tests may include the following:
Pulmonary Function Tests
These tests measure how well your lungs function and can identify any underlying respiratory conditions.
An X-ray can help identify lung abnormalities, such as inflammation or fluid buildup.
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
This test measures the heart’s electrical activity and can identify any abnormalities contributing to shortness of breath.
Blood tests can help identify any underlying medical conditions, such as anemia or thyroid disorders, contributing to shortness of breath.
CT scan or MRI
These imaging tests can provide a more detailed view of the lungs and identify any abnormalities contributing to shortness of breath.
In addition to these tests, your healthcare provider may also ask you questions about your medical history, lifestyle, and any other symptoms you may be experiencing.
This information can help them determine the underlying cause of your shortness of breath and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Overall, the diagnosis of shortness of breath will depend on the underlying cause of the symptom and may require additional testing and evaluation by a healthcare provider.