Here is a new one for me, Air Hunger, otherwise known as Dyspnea. Wikipedia defines it as "an uncomfortable awareness of one's breath effort." That is my latest side effect of bipolar disorder, or the medications I take for it, or something else. I consciously take a slow deep inhale and then a quick exhale...sort of like a 'puff.' I do this all the time, when I go to sleep, when I wake up, I do not have to think about it; it just happens. I initially thought of it as comforting... sort of like a meditative breathing. It is calming but I'm not having an anxiety or panic attack.
Well, I thought it was calming until I looked up what it could be caused by: pulmonary hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, COPD, GERD, sleep apnea, asthma, shock, chronic heart failure, pulmonary embolism, imminent death... among other diseases I can not spell or pronounce. Well, I think we can rule out 'imminent death.' And I have never smoked, except for a few cigars in college, so it is likely not COPD. It might be GERD or sleep apnea, both of which will require further exploration. I have been tested for diabetes and do not have any chest pain. Then again, it could just be bipolar disorder.
There is documentation on the web about air hunger and bipolar disorder (usually related to panic and anxiety) but I have yet to find any real medical evidence. I will keep looking. In the meantime, I am trying an exercise to 'normalize' the oxygen and CO2 levels in my blood. I found this on Reddit (my son's favorite website)
"the reason why you feel air hunger is because your body has low carbon dioxide levels as a result of stress. When under stress, you breathe in more air and exhale a greater amount of carbon dioxide. This creates a viscous (sic) cycle causing your body to inhale more and more deeply to maintain the carbon dioxide level. If you continue to do this over a prolonged period of time then your body deems your increased breathing volume as "normal" and as a result you will constantly feel short of breath unless you keep taking in big breaths.
Your goal is to break this habit and restore your oxygen/carbon dioxide levels back to a healthier level. "
Thank you, username outlooker707 on Reddit. Outlooker goes on to describe steps to "break the habit." It may take weeks or months. By then I should know if this Air Hunger is being brought on by something more 'serious.' In the meantime, I will be on the lookout for more information. If you deal with Air Hunger and have some insight, please comment. In fact there is a blog devoted to Living with Air Hunger. The author describes her condition as having been a lifelong problem, finally finds a doctor who will listen to her, and that is her last post. I hope that is a good sign.
Next up, Tardive Dyskinesia