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Asthma: Out of Breath at a Meal

If you have asthma and feel short of breath during meals, take these steps to help catch your breath:

  • Eat when you feel rested and relaxed. Don’t wait until you’re exhausted or starving to eat.

  • Try to breathe evenly while chewing. If you begin feeling short of breath, take a break between bites.

  • Eat six small meals a day instead of three big ones. Your diaphragm—the muscle at the base of your lungs that helps with breathing—doesn’t work as well when your stomach is full.

  • Be aware of food allergies. Shortness of breath caused by an allergic reaction is a medical emergency. It may be accompanied by hoarseness, throat or chest tightness, wheezing, or tingling. If you have these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Your health care provider might also recommend that you keep self-injectable epinephrine (an Epi-pen) on hand.

  • Be sure to discuss being out of breath during eating with your doctor as it is definitely abnormal. It may indicate poor control of your asthma or another condition like acid reflux. 

  • Wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace in case you have an emergency and can't talk with bystanders and emergency responders. 

 

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