Out of Breath and Dizzy
Q: I'm 38 years old and in fairly good shape, but recently I've been having
major trouble catching my breath. It gets so bad that I have dizzy spells, and
the only way I can really fill my lungs is by yawning repeatedly until the spinning
stops. I go through this several times a day! I thought maybe I was hyperventilating
and tried breathing into a paper bag, but it only made things worse. What could
Dr. Donnica: Despite your age and excellent physical shape, it's
time for you to have a complete physical with an emphasis on your heart exam.
Yawning itself is a normal response to fatigue or drowsiness, but excessive
yawning, especially as you described it as trying to get a deep breath, may
be caused by a vasovagal reaction and can indicate an underlying heart problem.
Until your check-up, I recommend backing off on the exercise and keeping a
log of how often you experience these symptoms, what medications you may be
taking (including cough/cold medications and herbal preparations), what makes
it better or worse, what you were doing at the time you experienced the symptoms,
and whether they interfere with any activities.
Created: 12/4/2003  - Donnica Moore, M.D.