Learn About Ailments | Breathing disorders

Breathing disorders

Breathing disorder is an umbrella term for any condition associated with the respiratory system, from colds and asthma to emphysema and pneumonia.
Breathing disorders

In This Article
Did you know? Causes of breathing disorders
Symptoms of breathing disorders Diagnosis of breathing disorders
Related Terms

  • The UK has the highest mortality rate for pneumonia in Europe
  • The death rate from lung cancer is 66 per 100,000 in the UK
  • The European average for lung cancer is 45.9 per 100,000
  • One in four men experience breathing problems while sleeping

Breathing disorders are characterised by difficulty with breathing while awake or asleep. There is a variety of causes for breathing disorders and these include:
  • Asthma
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Sleep apnoea
There are also non-respiratory conditions which can cause problems with breathing such as:
  • Anaemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux

There are common signs and symptoms that someone has a breathing disorder. These include:

Difficulty breathing – breathing can be difficult or painful with conditions such as asthma but may only be intermittent. Persistent breathing problems occur in people with conditions such as emphysema and can interfere with eating and talking.

Mucus – excessive mucus can develop in people with breathing disorders such as allergies and bronchitis. People with lung infections such as pneumonia may have a build up of thick mucus which causes congestion. Mucus that runs down the throat can result in a sore throat or hoarse voice.

Phlegm – chronic bronchitis or COPD can cause a feeling of something being stuck in the throat. This is a build up of phlegm which can be cleared by coughing and is usually yellow/green in colour.
Pain – someone with asthma or COPD may experience chest pain during or after physical activity or at times of emotional stress. Pain can also be felt when taking a deep breath.

Wheezing – asthma and emphysema sufferers find they may wheeze when walking or climbing stairs or even while sitting. Stress, humid conditions and pollution can worsen wheezing.

In the first instance you should visit your GP who will ask about your symptoms, lifestyle choices (e.g. smoking) and take a look at your medical history. To make an accurate diagnosis the GP may refer you for a series of tests. These can include:
  • Chest x-ray
  • Blood tests
  • Lung function test (spirometry)

Respiratory System
Respiratory Disorder
Laboured Breathing
Airway Pressure
Flu (Influenza)

Therapies to consider
Acupressure Acupuncture Alexander Technique
Allergy Intolerance Testing Aromatherapy Ayurvedic Medicine
Baby Massage Bowen Therapy Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chiropractic Colour Therapy Craniosacral Therapy
Deep Tissue Massage Ear Candling Herbal Medicine
Homeopathy Indian Head Massage Naturopathy
Nutrition Physiotherapy Pilates
Reflexology Reiki Remedial Massage
Shiatsu Sports Massage Vertical Reflex Therapy


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