Skip to content
Wake up gasping for air
avatar
deutscher40 posted:
My wife reciently has woken up caughing and gasping for air and said she felt like she stopped breathing. What could cause this during the night?
Reply
FirstPrevious12NextLast
 
avatar
robow responded:
How often does this happen? Does she have any other symptoms? She may or may not have obstructive sleep apnea. A doctor's opinion would be good.
 
avatar
vickytoby responded:
I have had the same thing happen to me. Approx. 2 months ago, I jumped up right after falling asleep grasping for air as if my air pipe was partially closed. It happened again last week - only this time I woke up around 4 am grasping for air. I ran around the room trying to get a full breath as I was trying to catch my breath. Each episode lasted only a minute. The next morning my throat is very sore from the episodes. No pounding heart or light head - Does anyone have any idea what would cause this.
 
avatar
jhmagna responded:
I've been waking up gasping for breath on and off over the past 2 years. Funnily enough it started happening after I started an exercise regime and got myself into shape, although I doubt this is a contributing factor.

It happens probably once or twice a month. I fall asleep and wake up in a bit of a panic gasping for breath as though I'd stopped breathing in my sleep. It's pretty scary actually. My wife says that I don't actually stop breathing, and although I don't disbelieve her, I doubt whether she's been awake to watch me very often.

Apart from this, I'm fine. I don't suffer from drowziness during the day, I don't have headaches or sore throats or anything like that. I'm energetic most days at work and it doesn't seem to affect me the following day. It's just that I wake up in a panic gasping for breath! Oh, I don't smoke and I'm not a big drinker. I'm a healthy guy.

Anyway, I've been thinking about this lately and this is the conclusion I've come to. I actually don't think I stop breathing; sure I'm gasping for breath but I don't actually think I do so from lack of oxygen. it's more from panic. If I think about it, I'm not actually short of breath. I just think that perhaps my brain doesn't register that I am breathing and sort of goes into panic mode. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I think I may be on to something. Gasping for breath as I do doesn't seem to quench any physical desire for air, it simply satisfies a mental desire.

One other thing. There's no real rhyme or reason to the frequency of this occurring. It may happen more often when I'm really tired, or perhaps when I've had a glass of wine before dinner, but really there's no obvious trigger. I simply fall into a deep sleep and wake up suddenly.

Does this help or make sense?
 
avatar
fstacey responded:
oh...that is happening to me. That is so scary. My husband has been witnessing it asking me what is going on. I cannot breath! It is as if someone has pinched my nose and closed my mouth. I wake up in complete panic, gasping for air, with heart pounding, and my vision slightly impaired during the epidose. This occurs sometimes before I even fall asleep, right when I close my eyes and I attempt to go to sleep, relaxed with not a care in the world, then bam! Also during my sleep. This has happened at least once a week for a few weeks now, more frequently , but started month ago. Sleep is already broken to begin with, now this. I dont even tell my physcian since its random and for short periods of time 1minute or so, all I will hear is take blood tests...."you're fine." Its very frustrating. Has anyone come up with what this could be?

Stacey
 
avatar
bendmc responded:
My wife is experiencing this exact same phenomenon. She just gave birth to our fourth child six days ago (by scheduled C-section) and has not been able to sleep (for any significant length of time) since coming home from the hospital a day-and-a-half ago. She just begins to fall asleep and then jerks awake while taking a large breath. She says she is awakened by the sensation that she's not breathing and after all of the sudden, deep breaths, her chest and lungs are starting to hurt. I'm actually sitting on the floor next to the couch listening to her breathe right now, as she was able to get her most decent cat-nap since being home here on the couch earlier today. I'm not noticing any change in her breathing as she fades to sleep, but, sure enough, she jerks awake with a big breath. So I'm led to believe that it is more psychological than physical, but there may be some sort of physical 'trigger'. If a topic gets so many responses like this one, does the medical staff at Web MD take notice and offer some response, eventually??
 
avatar
Caprice_WebMD_Staff responded:
This board is a member to member board and there are no Health Professionals here. Members often have experience or great insight to share.

I am wondering, with your wife, is she on any medication, perhaps something given to her to help with the pain of the c-section? That may be something to look at.

Either way, it's something she should discuss with her doctor.
 
avatar
shylohmo responded:
I too have the same problem. First be sure to rule out Sleep Apnea. Do you have a problem with Acid reflux? Have you ever been tested for H-Pylori.? As I said in my post, I think that my stomach is the cause of my having to gasp for air when I lay down. Perhaps someone on this post can help us. Good luck to you.
 
avatar
ldanley responded:
I do exactly the same thing, during naps and sometime all night long, which I would have to cut the TV on just to keep from falling a sleep and suddenly waking up in a panic. I kind of think it's about not breathing, but I realize that right before this happens, it seems like I am stuck in some weird kind of dream state, and once my mind recognizes it, my mind once out of it, so I wake up panicking. It seems to do with the stress that is building up with me lately. But I am not sure. I also notice that my tongue is clinching to my top gum, creating some kind of suction.
 
avatar
Burping replied to ldanley's response:
I think I have finally found the answer to this issue of waking up gasping for air. I have been experiencing this for years and found the solution by accident. My wife and I bought a sleep number bed. A bit on the pricey side but we got the base unit with the Bed that raises your head above your stomach. I raise mine about 8 inches at night. I no longer wake up gasping for air and my excessive belching is gone! Thank the Lord!

I think that my stomach acid sat in my throat all night long. I rarely tasted acid but I was constantly clearing my throat during the day. Also excessive burping gas gave me pressure that eventually turned into anxiety attacks.

Guys, all these issues have cleared up. I tried the books under the head of the bed but that wasn't enough height. You do not have to buy a sleep number bed but the cool thing is it bends at the waiste area so you don't slide down the bed at night.

Anyway, I always had a pact with others....whoever found the answer to this debilitating set of circumstances would post it on the boards for others to benefit from. It only took me about 16 years of suffering but here it is.

I hope this helps you. God Bless.
 
avatar
Roeseberg replied to Burping's response:
I'm glad this person has found the answer with his sleep number bed but I have a tempu-pedic that had the same feature. Early this morning I woke with the same issues as everyone else has posted, and I had my bed up about 8 inches and still woke up gasping for air. This was the second time while sleeping within 6 hours. I just again had a small episode while sitting up.

I've been sick now for two weeks. Went to urgent care a week ago (had not yet had these symptoms of not being able to catch my breath). Its flu season and I've been coughing like crazy, post nasal drip and overall fatigue. Was glad to hear I didn't have pneumonia. Doc said it was an upper respiratory infection after clear X-ray. She didn't even look in my nose. Gave me a zpack, ventolin inhaler, and hydrocodon cough med (awful, made me vomit, will not take it again). After a week of not feeling better and then a few of these horrible gasping episodes I went back to doc. He led me to believe that I did have a sinus infection or sever sinusitis. Taking mucinex for heavy phlegm, allegra, using a neti pot almost every 2 hours and fluticcisone nasal spray. Still waking up gasping. It is terrifying and I'm hating that no one seems to have any answers. Don't think I can continue dealing with this issue. Makes me feel like I'm going to die.
 
avatar
Roeseberg replied to Roeseberg's response:
Ok, after researching further, I'm certain I have whooping cough. Look up whooping cough on Utube and watch the videos. Does your cough look and sound the same? Mine does. I called my doc this morning who called in a script for antibiotics for myself and my husband as this is highly contagious. She also ordered a lab swab of the inside of my nose to be cultured. I will know the result in 3 days, and if positive my children will also be prescribed antibiotics. The antibiotics only help with prevention or preventing the spread of the germs to others. They also call this the 100 day cough. It can be deadly to children and infants so if you have it stay away from little ones. Adults tend to be the carriers that spread to babies. If you have had the symptoms for 2 weeks that is prime time for a lab swab and antibiotics. I hate the thought of sleeping again tonight as it seems to be when its the worst. My neti pot to irrigate my nasal passages has been helpful to reduce mucus but its been so bad that I have to do it like every 2 hours. You can get a neti pot and distilled water at almost any pharmacy or drug store. Hope this helps.
 
avatar
Roeseberg replied to Roeseberg's response:
Ok, I've been doing much research and this is what I've been doing for my whooping cough. Started yesterday doing vitamin C therapy. I took 12,000 mg that is 12, 1000 mg capsules of vitamin C. The reports I have been reading recommend even more. Last night I had a few minor coughing episodes but nothing like the horror of the previous nights. Today I am going to try to 20,000mg or 20 capsules. I've read if you stop, the symptoms will come back, so I plan to do this for quite some time, maybe even weeks. I did have a minor upset stomach this morning before I had eaten. I took the capsules throughout the day yesterday having had food in my stomach and this morning bowels were a little loose.

I do not have any medical expertise and always recommend seeing a doctor before seeking treatment. In this case of whooping cough, I was not provided anything for relief of symptoms, so I had to research on my own to find a solution that would work for me.
 
avatar
hopethishelps replied to Roeseberg's response:
are you a wine drinker do you drink wine? this has ben happening to me so badly and i think i am sure its from the garbage wine


Helpful Tips

Insomnia
I have had insomnia for about a year. Giving up dairy products has helped immensely. Not only has the gas problem been relieved but also ... More
Was this Helpful?
1 of 2 found this helpful

Related News

There was an error with this newsfeed

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For more information, visit the Duke Health Sleep Disorders Center