The feeling of suffocation: causes, what to do, to what doctor to address


A condition characterized by shortness of breath and fear of death, is called suffocation, or asphyxia. Occurs in adults and in children for many reasons. Treatment of breathlessness is assigned individually in each individual case, depending on the disease and the factors that provoked it.

General information

Suffocation is a painful and dangerous condition that occurs when the lack of air in the body. The seriousness of the situation the person feels when holding his breath for a few seconds, for example, being under water. At such moments affects all his organs and systems. The reason is that the basic energy processes in the human body take place with the participation of oxygen.

The underlying biochemical process which occurs on a cellular level – oxidative postulirovana. It occurs in the mitochondria. The delivery process of oxygen molecules in the mitochondria is ensured by a number of physiological mechanisms.

Are involved:

  • airway where is moisture, heat, air purification;
  • the respiratory muscles;
  • the pleural cavity, which creates negative pressure;
  • the alveoli membranes which pass molecules of oxygen in the blood as a result of passive diffusion (it does not entail energy costs);
  • the heart that ensures blood flow and transportation of oxygen to the tissues;
  • cell, membranes which allow oxygen to intracellular structures.
  • the respiratory center responsible for the coordination and regulation of respiratory function.

Please note

The blood itself takes part in the transport of oxygen. First, its cells, erythrocytes, contain hemoglobin, joined its molecules, and secondly, the value is the degree of fluidity of the blood.

If one of the stages of transportation problems, a mechanism to ensure human air does not work – there is an asthma attack. Due to the fact that this can happen with both adults and with children at risk are everything.

Causes of breathlessness

To trigger the development of this condition can be any factors, including the environment. Directly choking and spasm of the muscles of the larynx in the throat are the consequence of traumatic, thermal and mechanical effects. In some cases, there are diseases of the internal organs.

In patients with such symptoms, doctors first rule out:

  • udushethe use of drugs for the treatment of inflammations of the oral cavity infectious nature;
  • getting food into the larynx or the use of dry food;
  • being in areas with high dust or chemical substances;
  • stress, nervous strain;
  • the impact of the allergen with mucous membranes.

It is important

Spasm provoked by suffocation, can have a neurogenic and arise in case of irritation of certain groups of nerves that are concentrated in the larynx.

In addition, the doctors isolated the disease, the symptom of which is feeling of suffocation. This diseases such as:

  • Bronchial asthma is a disease characterized by episodes of dry cough and/or shortness of breath that occurs spontaneously or with the precursors. While there is pressure in the chest, even at a distance hear wheezing. The chest itself takes the form of barrels, intercostal spaces are smoothed. Such attacks occur due to exposure to allergens, exposure to cold, colds, exercise. Sputum taken for analysis at the time of the attack, contains a large number of eosinophils, indicating the presence of an allergic reaction. The relief brings a sitting position, the hands rest on the back of a chair, and a nitroglycerin tablet.
  • iunfarkjtObstruction. This files most often occurs in smokers, including passive, or in workers of hazardous industries (coal, cement, pulp and paper). The development of bronchial obstruction is also affected by nutrition, genetics, health status (possible in premature infants). Symptoms – shortness of breath, increasing cough with the appearance of mucous or purulent sputum, which entails the dysfunction of the epithelium and, as a result, the feeling of suffocation.
  • Pneumothorax – a condition involving leakage of light due to damage to the chest. This raises intrapleural pressure different from the atmospheric, which causes compression of the lung and poor circulation. Then there is a feeling of suffocation. As a rule, the situation is aggravated by the shock of the injury or injuries. To save life it is necessary to provide urgent assistance to a person, ensuring the sealing of the chest with pure oxygen and pain medications.
  • Myocardial infarction. When the blood clot in the coronary artery, the blood flow from their heart stops, which leads to necrosis of cardiac muscle due to lack of oxygen.

    It is important

    The maximum time when the site served by that artery, can live without oxygen, is not more than half an hour. After ossification appear inelastic scarring, complicating the work of the heart (OK it stretches and shrinks, pumping blood).

    At risk – people with a sedentary lifestyle, excess weight, diseases of the cardiovascular system (hypertension), harmful habits (Smoking, alcohol). With age, the risk increases. Precede infarction angina, accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath. Meanwhile, sometimes the harbingers do not exist. A complication of the disease – post-infarction pericarditis, which is difficult to identify.

    Please note

    Myocardial infarction can be diagnosed, and a person with a completely healthy heart. Then he suspected pathology of the coronary arteries.

  • Anaphylactic shock – a condition paired with respiratory failure and circulatory insufficiency. It provokes an allergen that enters the body in excess – dust, food, chemical, drug. In some people can cause anaphylactic shock can insect bites. The danger of the state – in the rapidly developing vascular collapse, which entails the cessation of blood supply to the heart and the extinction of the vital functions of the body. All accompanied by a rash, swelling, flushing, bronchospasm, sensation of chest compression, excitement and a sense of fear, dizziness, loss of consciousness. In the absence of medical care the victim falls into a coma and dies. To prevent a lethal outcome, doctors administer antihistamines, decongestants, anti-inflammatory drugs, hormones.
  • udushieThe ingress of foreign bodies in the throat – child issue that occurs in patients under the age of 5 – 6 years of age. In the course are coins, parts of toys, beads, peas, which they take in her mouth, sucked into the nose, and with a sharp breath, caused by crying or laughing, “send” in the larynx. Sometimes in the respiratory tract, ingested food, for example, if the person during the meal talking. Then there is a reflex cough, pushing the body through the mouth. Meanwhile, in the case of complete overlap of the lumen of the trachea or larynx occurs suffocation. In the absence of skilled care in a few minutes there comes a loss of consciousness and cardiac arrest. When blockage of the bronchi inflammation of the lungs. Other symptoms like noisy breathing, osiplosti voices (if the foreign body is caught between the vocal cords), fear, lividity of the skin.
  • Tumors in the respiratory tract. They can be benign or malignant, can develop due to injury, stress, work in hazardous industries. There is fatigue of the cords when speaking, shortness of breath, shooting pain in the ear, putrid breath, coughing with blood in sputum. If the tumor blocks the airway, choking occurs. Eliminate the latter by insertion of a stent is a special tube.
  • Diphtheria of the larynx, or croup. Another childhood disease, which develops as a result of the ingestion of germs. These microorganisms secrete toxic substances that affect the nervous and cardiovascular system. The voice hipnet and appears barking cough. In the absence of assistance, develop seizures, and then death occurs.
  • Edema of the lung or larynx. Occurs when allergies, laryngitis, scarlet fever sometimes resembles the symptoms of heart diseases.

Other diseases causing dyspnea, can be: lung cancer, pneumonia, traumatic asphyxia as a result of compression of the chest, mental disorders, e.g., panic attack or hyperventilation syndrome (causes disturbances in the regulation of respiratory activity).

Please note

Sleep apnea indicates a problem with circulation. This man wakes up in a cold sweat, wheezing in the lungs and paroxysmal dry cough. Neck veins in his swollen, intercostal spaces strongly involved in the attempts to gain more air. Facilitated by the state after the patient takes a vertical position.

Additional symptoms with dyspnea

In most cases, the feeling of suffocation joined by other signs, help the technician to diagnose. It can be:

  • discomfort when speaking;
  • pain when swallowing;
  • heaviness in the occiput, headache (if injured arteries and impaired blood flow);
  • numbness in the limbs (the result of insufficient blood circulation or neurological problems).


Regular sensation of suffocation – a reason to immediately contact a therapist. He will appoint a comprehensive examination, allowing to establish the true cause spasm and lack of oxygen and sent for consultation to:

  • Laura;
  • cardiologist;
  • the pulmonologist;
  • the allergist;
  • therapist.

Narrow specialists can:

  • take a swab of the oropharynx;
  • to make a pharyngoscope to explore the mucous membranes;
  • to undertake endoscopy (internal examination with an endoscope);
  • to do an ultrasound;
  • to give a direction to the blood (clinical and biochemical analysis, hormones);
  • to hold the fibroesophagogastroduodenoscopy – study mucous membranes of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.

Treatment, help with the choking

It is important

If you experience feelings of suffocation, you should immediately consult a doctor. Any delay can cost human life.

Until then, you need to:

  • To secure his peace, emotional and physical. If the attack came from the child, and the child cries, he needs to calm down.
  • In case of loss of consciousness, to the nose, bring the smelling salts, and then offer the patient a glass of water.

When these manipulations are ineffective, it is recommended to hold your breath for a few seconds and then slowly inhale. Another option relieving spasm of the warm bath in which you sit 10 – 15 minutes. Last resort – 2 fingers on the tongue that causes vomiting and relieves spasm.

Please note

If you experience asthma as a result of stressful experiences are taking medications (antidepressants and anxiolytics). If you are allergic give antihistamines – Suprastin, Tavegil. Bronchial asthma – bronchodilators, e.g. Ephedrine.

What to do when hit in the respiratory tract foreign body

First aid to the victim:

  • He needs to stand with his head and breast forward, and then someone sharply, but not much should hit the patient on the back between the shoulder blades.
  • Another option is to approach the victim from behind, clasping his hands in the region of the navel, and dramatically shrink. The result is lower ribs sharply pushed the carbon dioxide out, and with it the irritant.

    It is important

    If food gets into the mouth, and not popping up out of it, when you inhale it is possible to repeat the inhalation.

  • Lying turns over on his back, pushing hard them on the upper part of the abdomen.
  • Of an unconscious person placed himself on a bent knee belly down so that his head fell. Then punching in the blades not more than 5 times.
We recommend you to read:
Foreign body in the airway: first aid

It is worth noting that even after the restoration of breathing as a result of these actions, you must consult a doctor. These manipulations can lead to injuries, injuries to internal organs, and sometimes damage to the ribs.


To prevent suffocation, you must:

  • udusheto lead a healthy lifestyle, stop Smoking and alcohol;
  • sleep about 8 hours a day;
  • to monitor their diet, providing yourself with essential vitamins and minerals;
  • to avoid physical and emotional overload;
  • in the case of neuroses to take sedatives;
  • at the onset of ailments to see a doctor.

Suffocation is not only painful for the patient condition, but also a direct threat to his health and life. In the event you can’t waste another minute: call the ambulance, but before her arrival to give first aid. Only physicians will be able to determine the exact cause choking and to prevent the worst.

Olga Chumachenko, doctor, medical commentator