Gasping for Breath
Some people have attacks of severe shortness of breath, along with coughing and wheezing that generally occur at night. Usually this awakens that person from sleep and may be quite frightening because of a feeling of severe anxiety, breathlessness and suffocation. The patient may bolt upright in bed and gasp for breath. These attacks may be due to a condition called paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea. This condition is caused by depression of the respiratory center during sleep, and may be related to heart or lung disorders. A sleep study can be ordered to evaluate respiratory function to aid in the treatment plan. Medications may be ordered (i.e. oxygen, diuretics, heart medications, antihypertensives, bronchodilators) to reverse wheezing.