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    What causes shortness of breath and excessive yawning?

Posted on Fri, 30 Jun 2017 in Sleep Disorders
Question: My head feels stuffed;and my chest feels short of breath, I feel the need to yawn in order to feel like I'm getting enough oxygen, i do have anxiety and take medicine for it, also don't sleep till 5 or 6 in the morning, lately been taking sleeping pill but i feel terrible next day and they don't always help, also wake up every 2 hours, lately wake about 8 to 9 am and have to labor to breath normal and have to take deep breaths. I am 84 years old and have had a problem sleeping about 10years just gradualey gotten worse also have high blood pressure.
I really must force myself to yawn in order to relax a little and feel like i can breath normal

Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka 41 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Anxiety seems the likely cause.

Detailed Answer:
Hello dear,
I read your question carefully and I understand your concern.

In my opinion your symptoms are due to anxiety. It is commonly manifested through feelings of shortness of breath, the yawning works simply because it helps as a relaxing exercise. It is also one of the most common causes of sleep issues, so the symptoms are likely to be due to it.

I disagree with Lorazepam use or any other benzodiazepine class of drugs. They are in general not recommended to be used for long term. That is because in time they create physical dependence and also tolerance, meaning the same dosage which was once effective is not effective anymore. Furthermore they are not recommended in the elderly they increase confusion, memory loss and other cognitive issues.

When there is a need for long term anxiety treatment antidepressants are the most suitable class, as I said benzodiazepines like lorazepam are advised only for short term use. When there are also sleep issues sedative antidepressants are preferred like mirtazapine or amitriptyline. Some psychotherapy session, learning relaxation techniques may also be of help.

I remain at your disposal for other questions.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Olsi Taka 27 minutes later
Thank You for quick answer The doctor was talking of having me start escitalopram 10 mg 1 a day, in reading up on it i just didn't like the sound of it. What do you think of it.
Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka 6 hours later
Brief Answer:
Very good for anxiety, less effective for sleep.

Detailed Answer:
Thank you for the additional information.

Escitalopram is one of the most used medications for anxiety. In terms of efficacy and side effects frequency it would be a very good choice, it certainly is safer and preferable to lorazepam. The only thing is that regarding sleep it is not as beneficial. It might still aid sleep indirectly by relieving anxiety, but not as much as some other antidepressants.

Let me know if I can further assist you.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Olsi Taka 22 hours later
Is there anything you may suggest for sleep, I can't take any of the normal sleeping pills. I just can't function the next day and need to take lorazepan to feel XXXXXXX Is there any over the counter that is not too bad for you and may work?
Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka 3 hours later
Brief Answer:
Read below

Detailed Answer:
If anxiety is the cause (even if only partially) of the sleep issues it should be addressed, one has to treat the source before focusing on sleeping pills.
Regarding over the counter options they would include melatonin which you know or Ramelteon which acts similarly by exercising its action on the melatonin receptors. There are also antihistamine medications like diphenhydramine.
While not over the counter I wonder if suvorexant (belsombra) which is a medication which has been approved only recently has bee tried.
I want to repeat though that anxiety should be addressed before going to more sleeping pills.

I hope to have been of help.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Answered by
Dr. Olsi Taka


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