Air Hunger

Written by James Lyons
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Air hunger, also known as "dyspnea," is often associated with heart and/or lung disease and is characterized by labored breathing and/or shortness of breath. Air hunger can be a frightening experience. Those who experience air hunger often experience severe anxiety, stress and panic because of their labored breathing, which then makes breathing even more difficult.

In a number of cases, the most common problem behind dyspnea involves lung, heart, or neuromuscular abnormalities, which doctors are able to pinpoint by taking a history and performing a physical exam. Dyspnea often occurs naturally during times of extreme exercise, such as running, rowing, climbing, lifting heavy weights, and swimming. The dyspnea is the consequence of intense physical exertion and not the consequence of some physical disorder.

Air Hunger and CHF

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is one of the most common causes of air hunger. When a person has CHF, his heart is not pumping hard enough to provide the body with adequate amounts of oxygen. As the heart fails to pump adequately, the lungs become congested and fill with fluid. Breathing becomes labored and you'll experience symptoms consistent with "air hunger." According to the American Heart Association, over 550,000 new cases of CHF are diagnosed every year.

Learning to breathe properly is an excellent way to help prevent diseases like congestive heart failure. Most people only access 15 to 20 percent of their breathing capacity. This is troubling considering over 90 percent of our energy should come from breathing. A lifetime of inefficient and underutilized breathing can result in debilitating and life-threatening ailments like congestive heart failure.

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