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Reasons for Difficulty Breathing While Lying Down


Do you ever experience difficulty breathing while lying down? If you have a hard time breathing when lying flat on your back and are able to breathe again normally upon sitting or standing, there could be a number of factors causing the issue.


The experience of having difficulty breathing while lying down (resolved upon sitting or standing) is called Orthopnea. “Difficulty breathing” is often experienced by one or more of these sensations:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Having to work harder to breathe
  • Feeling like you can’t take a deep enough breath
  • The feeling of being smothered

Because Orthopnea is often a sign or symptom of a more serious underlying condition, it’s important that you talk to your doctor right about your symptoms if you’re experiencing shortness of breath or difficulty breathing while lying down.

Reasons for Difficulty Breathing While Lying Down

Difficulty breathing while lying down is most often caused by an underlying heart or lung condition, many of which can be extremely serious if left untreated. While not all difficulty breathing lying down is caused by heart or lung issues, it’s still critical to talk to your doctor about any difficulty breathing you experience.

With that in mind, here are four common reasons you may have difficulty breathing while lying down.

Cardiovascular Conditions

Heart conditions that can cause difficulty breathing while lying down include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, aortic valve regurgitation, atrial fibrillation, myocarditis, congestive heart failure, or acute heart failure.

Pulmonary Conditions

Acute or chronic pulmonary issues are often one of the reasons for difficulty breathing while lying down. Some of the conditions that cause this symptom include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary embolism, and cystic fibrosis.

Anxiety or Panic Disorder

Anxiety, panic attacks, or a panic disorder can all cause symptoms, including shortness of breath, hyperventilation, feelings of chest tightness, or feelings of choking.

Other Respiratory Conditions or Infections

Difficulty breathing while lying down can also be caused by short-term infections or illnesses. Nasal congestion, the common cold, mild flu, sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia are all respiratory conditions that might temporarily cause difficulty breathing while lying down.

Remember to call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately if you experience any of the following signs of a potential medical emergency, including severe shortness of breath (inability to talk), allergic reaction, chest pain with shooting arm pain, and profuse sweating (signs of a heart attack), weak pulse, dizziness, fever, or rapid breathing/heart rate.

And to support your overall respiratory health, you can look into nutritional supplements like the ones below from Allergy Research Group, Nutritional Frontiers, and Professional Botanicals.

Phytocort – Allergy Research Group

Phytocort from Allergy Research Group is a supplement that can help support breathing and adrenal function. This formula includes traditional Chinese herbal ingredients such as Reishi mushroom, Chinese licorice root, shrubby sophora root, and noni fruit. These herbs may help to provide temporary relief from occasional respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath caused by congestion, while also supporting overall immune system health.

AirMaxx Chewables – Nutritional Frontiers

AirMaxx Chewables from Nutritional Frontiers is a professional grade dietary supplement that may support healthy respiratory function and response to common allergens. AirMaxx Chewables contains a blend of ingredients, including vitamin C, zinc, quercetin, bromelain, elderberry powder, N-dimethylglycine HCl, and benegut perilla extract. These ingredients were selected to help maintain histamine levels within normal ranges. AirMaxx Chewables may be ideal when experiencing itchy skin and eyes, a congested and runny nose, splotchy or red skin, and general discomfort associated with general irritation and respiratory dysfunction caused by common allergens.

Lungs Mucus – Professional Botanicals

Lungs Mucus from Professional Botanicals is an herbal supplement designed to support temporary relief from occasional symptoms sometimes associated with congestion and mucus buildup and promote overall respiratory system health. Lungs Mucus contains a proprietary blend of herbs, and enzymes, such as amylase, protease, lipase, and cellulase.

Do you know anyone in your life who experiences difficulty breathing while lying down?