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Weak Diaphragm. Advice?

Hello all, thanks in advance for your time.

I'm trying to figure out what's going on with my breathing. The thing that's most obvious is that I am frequently using extra effort to breathe by way of having to flare my nostrils or suck really deep through them, and sometimes I even feel my neck and shoulders kicking in to get a good breath. Additionally I've noticed my abdomen feeling very weak and low often times. After doing a little research I'm wondering if I've just allowed my diaphragm to get very weak due to a long lack of activity during the lockdown.

I'm also experiencing a lot of weakness and dizziness in the mornings that last quite a while, and my breathing is uncomfortable and feels forced as I try to go to sleep as well.

First question I guess I'm asking is if a misbehaving diaphragm alone counts as COPD. I fortunately have not experienced coughing or wheezing or any kind of substance build-up in the lungs. But the diaphragmal and muscular breathing behavior my body's been having is very difficult to deal with and I only recently am aggressively doing abdominal breathing exercises in hopes to retrain my body. Is this something that you guys would recommend?

My other question is if any of you guys have experienced sleep difficulties and difficulty operating during the day due to COPD issues. I was suspicious it could be some sort of sleep apnea but but that's unlikely as I am young, slim and don't snore.

Any insight and encouragement I would be so grateful for. Feel free to let me know some of the basic things I can start doing to improve my quality of life which has been lowered a bit lately. Sleeping and breathing should come automatically and feeling like you have to fight for it and are being robbed of it is quite despiriting.

Thanks so much.

  1. Hi warsaint, and thanks for your post / comment. I see my colleague, Lyn, has provided a comprehensive reply to which I will lend my support.
    I did want to ask you if you're being followed by a physician? Also, have you been diagnosed with COPD? Have you had an opportunity to discuss the symptoms you've shared here with a physician?

    Please do let us hear back from you when you have an opportunity.
    Wishing you well,
    Leon (site moderator COPD.net)

    1. Hi warsaint - I'm sorry you're having these issues with your breathing.

      First, the fact that you've started doing exercises to help your diaphragm is great!! As COPD progresses, one of the things that happens is the diaphragm flattens and becomes less effective in helping you to breath. The result is that you begin using other muscles, accessory muscles, to help you breath, but these are much less effective in doing the job. Thus, it will take more effort on your part and you'll feel short of breath.

      It's not uncommon to have sleeping problems with COPD. The reasons for this vary from person to person, but there are things you can do to help you sleep better. Here's the link to an article that I hope you'll find helpful: https://copd.net/living/getting-best-sleep-even-copd/

      I hope this helped a little. If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask. We're happy to help.

      Take care - Lyn (site moderator)

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