Automatic Forced Exhalation/Bronchial spasm?
August 27, 2010 11:03 AM   Subscribe

I've noticed the past couple days a sort of automatic forced exhalation. I don't know how to describe it. It's kind of like a cough, but not really. There's not throat clearing or anything of that nature.

I'm pretty stressed the past couple days at work, and I noticed that's when it happens. I've had this happen in the past, and I think it's just stress, but is there something else that might be causing it?

Obviously the full advice is "see a doctor"... But I'm just curious - the closest I've found is Asthma, but I don't wheeze or feel constricted breathing. A bronchial spasm, perhaps?

I am on (a very low dose (75mg) of) Effexor XR for anxiety, and I don't know if maybe that might be a contributor or even if it's alleviating what might be an even worse symptom.

A few years ago I was tested for Asthma on a treadmill and one of those breathing machines and they said my lung capacity was fine, and if anything I was deconditioned. Is it possible I've gotten it since then? I'm 34 years old, if that matters.
posted by symbioid to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
does your heart kind of "double beat" for a second, and then you just have this weird little fluttery half-cough?

yeah, me too. I have a harmless heart murmur (diagnosed) & I don't know if it's related, but I know I get this feeling more often when I'm stressed, over-caffeinated or exhausted. I'm in very good condition, btw, and it's just something that happens every so often. I also notice that when I approach my target max heart rate (85%) in exercise, I start coughing, but it's not enough to make me stop or slow down.

I'm 40 and not taking any medication, and I've had this for as long as I can remember. Do see a doctor, and find out what's up.
posted by toodleydoodley at 11:37 AM on August 27, 2010

It's possible it's just an anxiety thing. Something very similar happens to me when I'm extremely stressed out. It's almost like the "sigh" at the end of a good cry, but it's more forceful than that. It's only happened on a few really high-stress days, and it's usually just once or twice a day.

You don't say how often it happens - is it something like a couple of times a day, or once an hour or so, or several times in little bursts?
posted by SugarAndSass at 11:42 AM on August 27, 2010

I've had an echocardio and they didn't find anything at the time (a couple years ago?) It seems to happen more w/caffeine (which leads me to think of stress) - i don't know if i get a flutter, but it's possible.

i'll chalk it up to stress and mention it to the doc next time i go in.

i am pretty darn stressed lately, so that's probably it...

posted by symbioid at 12:48 PM on August 27, 2010

i would chalk it up to stress as well. When I'm anxious or stressed, I tend to get really shallow breath and my chest tightens. Our bodies can do silly things when we're stressed out.
posted by inmediasres at 1:22 PM on August 27, 2010

I have a heart arrhythmia (apparently nothing serious) and when it starts, I find myself letting out one really mild involuntary kind of cough.
posted by Ouisch at 1:26 PM on August 27, 2010

When I'm really really stressed, I have a tendency to hold my breath while doing things that require concentration. Sometimes it's trying to compose a delicate sentence in an important email, sometimes it's trying to back out of parking space without hitting anything. You get the idea. I don't notice that I'm doing it until the next breath, which is inevitably a bigger one to make up for lost time.
posted by vytae at 2:02 PM on August 27, 2010

I think that we tend to worry too hard as a culture (the Internet culture, I mean) about weird little things our bodies do. And I think if you pay attention hard to your body you notice a lot of weird shit going on that isn't voluntary and isn't "normal" against the model that our bodies should be almost completely passive unless we're willing something to happen.

I DO think that checking up with doctors is a good idea, but I also know that as a person with a lot of medical issues, doctors cannot know my body better than I do, and their help is going to be based on averages which make up their idea of normalcy.

If it's something that you and your doctor have determined isn't life threatening, I recommend taking the time to observe your circumstances (like stress) and just see how your body works during those circumstances. Once you have a baseline (and revise it every few years as you get older), you'll have a better idea of what's doctor-worthy and what isn't.
posted by kalessin at 6:55 AM on August 28, 2010

best of luck! keep us posted, please ;-)
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:54 AM on August 28, 2010

Well to finish and close it out... I think it was stress. Definitely during a stressful period, and probably too much caffeine intake. I'm on meds for anxiety, but it probably pushed me beyond my normal med controls.
posted by symbioid at 1:06 PM on September 26, 2010

so you're feeling better, I hope?
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:11 PM on September 27, 2010

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