Have you ever felt sudden shortness of breath while lying down? Maybe you have orthopnea. Orthopnea is a respiratory problem that can occur to anyone and can lead to serious health conditions. Actually, what is orthopnea? What symptoms shortness of breath during this sleep?
Orthopnea Medical Term
Orthopnea is a symptom of breathing difficulties that occur when a person is lying on his back. Usually, when lying down you will have difficulty breathing until a cough and wheezing sound appear. Symptoms of difficulty breathing will instantly improve when changing positions to sit or stand.
Initially, shortness of breath is only felt during a person’s strenuous physical activity, such as exercise because at that time the body needs more oxygen so the heart has to pulsate faster. While a weak heart can not do it.
The next stage, shortness of breath is felt even at rest. One of them is when the body is lying flat. This is what came to be known as orthopnea.
This condition can make it difficult for a person to fall asleep so they have to sleep in a sitting position or can be overcome by putting their chest and head higher when lying down by adding a pile of pillows. Although only a symptom, orthopnea is an important sign of worsening heart disease.
Derived from the Greek “ortho” which means straight, and “pneuma” which means breath, orthopnea generally occur due to changes in gravitational force when the patient takes a position from sitting down to lying down/ flat. This position leads to increased blood flow to the pulmonary circulation as well as a decrease in the amount of air that can be excreted from the lungs (vital capacity).
Orthopnea conditions can be mild or severe. Some sufferers may be virtually unaware of these symptoms when they use one or two pillows to support their upper body. However, for other sufferers, this can cause significant breathing difficulties, which can only be overcome by sitting upright or standing.
Other symptoms can also occur, which depends on the underlying cause. For example, a common cause of orthopnea is heart failure, which can cause symptoms such as:
- Changes in appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Persistent coughing or wheezing.
In the process of diagnosis of orthopnea, the doctor may begin with a physical examination to check the severity and also the time of difficulty breathing.
In addition, the doctor will also interview the patient about other symptoms he or she may experience, as well as review his medical history. Depending on the suspected cause, the doctor will likely recommend one or more of the following tests:
X-ray or CT scans of the chest:
Create a picture of the inside of the chest, which allows the doctor to see if there are problems in the heart or lungs.
Involves placing sensors on the patient’s skin to measure electrical signals from the heart. The doctor uses an ECG to check the patient’s heart function.
Echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound scan that uses sound waves to create images of the heart. The doctor uses this test to check for heart problems.
Lung function tests
Lung function tests, including spirometry, which involves breathing into the machine. A doctor can use the results to determine how well the lungs are functioning.
Arterial blood gas
Arterial blood gas is a type of blood test that checks if a person can get enough oxygen.
Blood test involves taking a small sample of the patient’s blood that the doctor will use to check for signs of various conditions.