Weird intermittent quick inhale/exhale at random intervals

Posted by ljmontgo @ljmontgo, May 12, 2021

It rarely happens more than once in any giver hour but has been going on for weeks. I researched respiratory illnesses but couldn't find anything. Anyone have a clue what this might be?

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Hi @ljmontgo, and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Those of us on Connect are not medical professionals so we can’t diagnose conditions. However it is a place to learn from shared experiences and insights.
It looks like you’re not alone in having these intermittent breaths. I did a little research online as well and found a few links to sites with people asking the same question…but not really answers.

Like you, the patients are concerned about the breathing, but it appears it’s not a serious medical issue and more of an annoyance. However, looking through them I did notice that the onset of the symptom usually, but not in all cases, began some period after an event, such as surgery, periods of stress, impact to the chest, a cold, influenza, asthma, sleep apnea…the list goes on…
Do you remember anything taking place before your symptoms began?
For your peace of mind, it might be worth a trip to your physician to make sure there’s no discernible cause.

Here’s one of the links I found, though the entries are quite dated. See if these stories sound familiar. Hopefully we’ll get some community members responding who may have had similar experiences as yours.
https://www.medhelp.org/posts/Respiratory-Disorders/Strange-Involuntary-Breath/show/14555

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@loribmt

Hi @ljmontgo, and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Those of us on Connect are not medical professionals so we can’t diagnose conditions. However it is a place to learn from shared experiences and insights.
It looks like you’re not alone in having these intermittent breaths. I did a little research online as well and found a few links to sites with people asking the same question…but not really answers.

Like you, the patients are concerned about the breathing, but it appears it’s not a serious medical issue and more of an annoyance. However, looking through them I did notice that the onset of the symptom usually, but not in all cases, began some period after an event, such as surgery, periods of stress, impact to the chest, a cold, influenza, asthma, sleep apnea…the list goes on…
Do you remember anything taking place before your symptoms began?
For your peace of mind, it might be worth a trip to your physician to make sure there’s no discernible cause.

Here’s one of the links I found, though the entries are quite dated. See if these stories sound familiar. Hopefully we’ll get some community members responding who may have had similar experiences as yours.
https://www.medhelp.org/posts/Respiratory-Disorders/Strange-Involuntary-Breath/show/14555

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Thank you very much. I didn’t have any obvious precipitating lung related event but recent blood test keep showing below average blood sodium levels. At one point I felt so weak that it was a struggle to get to a sitting position after lying in bed. Of late I have been adding salt tablets but the breathing issue hasn’t stopped yet. I have some other blood work that’s still outstanding. I will update when the results are in but these episodes happen hours apart so it’s hard to figure out what is the trigger.

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@ljmontgo I’m so sorry you had such a frightening experience. Amazing how our bodies can get so out of whack. In your case it may have been the low sodium which was the triggering event. Having low sodium can have an serious impact on your body’s normal function. The fact that you were so weak shows the level of the disruption from being too low.

Were you given any idea why your sodium is so low? Did your doctor recommend the salt pills?
I’m only asking because when the sodium level in a body is low, often other key elements such as potassium and magnesium are affected. Replacing electrolytes in a balanced formula such a Pedialyte or Gatorade is preferable…it is possible to go too far in the other direction. ☺️

On a personal note, because of meds I’m on, I have to drink at least 64 oz of water daily to keep my kidneys and liver happy. So my blood is monitored all the time to make sure I’m not flushing too much of the electrolytes down the drain and I do have to take daily magnesium supplements. 😂

Yes, please keep in touch with your results. This is a wonderfully supportive community with members supporting members. The experiences you share will benefit others.

Wishing you good health. Lori.

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@loribmt

@ljmontgo I’m so sorry you had such a frightening experience. Amazing how our bodies can get so out of whack. In your case it may have been the low sodium which was the triggering event. Having low sodium can have an serious impact on your body’s normal function. The fact that you were so weak shows the level of the disruption from being too low.

Were you given any idea why your sodium is so low? Did your doctor recommend the salt pills?
I’m only asking because when the sodium level in a body is low, often other key elements such as potassium and magnesium are affected. Replacing electrolytes in a balanced formula such a Pedialyte or Gatorade is preferable…it is possible to go too far in the other direction. ☺️

On a personal note, because of meds I’m on, I have to drink at least 64 oz of water daily to keep my kidneys and liver happy. So my blood is monitored all the time to make sure I’m not flushing too much of the electrolytes down the drain and I do have to take daily magnesium supplements. 😂

Yes, please keep in touch with your results. This is a wonderfully supportive community with members supporting members. The experiences you share will benefit others.

Wishing you good health. Lori.

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Thanks for the reply. My doc did not suggest salt tablets or pedialte but did order more blood test. I hav been taking pedialite on my own.

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@ljmontgo

Thanks for the reply. My doc did not suggest salt tablets or pedialte but did order more blood test. I hav been taking pedialite on my own.

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Thought I’d update that the breathing issue eventually cleared up on its own. I think whatever mechanism controls hiccups might have been involved but the events were much more spread out than hiccups, at least in my experience. The bloodwork I mentioned led to identification of a liver issue. The low sodium cause remains a mystery.

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Hello – I just found this string and wanted to mention I have experienced the weird involuntary exhale scenario twice. The first time was after hip replacement about 10 years ago and the second time is now, after the 2nd hip replacement. For me it only happens when I am resting in bed (middle of the night). It was happening quite a bit last night so I thought I would try and video it (lips moving involuntarily to expel air). But nope. Apparently just tensing my hand/arm to hold the phone stopped the involuntary exhales. Once I put the phone down and rested again it started up again. I am also taking opioids at night to help me sleep which is course depresses the breathing. So, I'm thinking, a surgical event, opioid use and deep relaxation brings on the involuntary exhales for me. Once I completely recovered from surgery the first time the involuntary exhales stopped. They didn't hurt. Just an annoyance.

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@amour49

Hello – I just found this string and wanted to mention I have experienced the weird involuntary exhale scenario twice. The first time was after hip replacement about 10 years ago and the second time is now, after the 2nd hip replacement. For me it only happens when I am resting in bed (middle of the night). It was happening quite a bit last night so I thought I would try and video it (lips moving involuntarily to expel air). But nope. Apparently just tensing my hand/arm to hold the phone stopped the involuntary exhales. Once I put the phone down and rested again it started up again. I am also taking opioids at night to help me sleep which is course depresses the breathing. So, I'm thinking, a surgical event, opioid use and deep relaxation brings on the involuntary exhales for me. Once I completely recovered from surgery the first time the involuntary exhales stopped. They didn't hurt. Just an annoyance.

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Hi my name is Laurel and I have been experiencing the in voluntary exhale also. I do this often and have even blown when I am drinking water and it goes everywhere. I talked to me pulmonary doctor and he had no clue. I stage 4 COPD and Stage 3 Congestive heart failure. They don't hurt but like you said your lips are moving. Not happy that you have this but I have never talked to anyone else that has it. It is annoying.

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@amour49

Hello – I just found this string and wanted to mention I have experienced the weird involuntary exhale scenario twice. The first time was after hip replacement about 10 years ago and the second time is now, after the 2nd hip replacement. For me it only happens when I am resting in bed (middle of the night). It was happening quite a bit last night so I thought I would try and video it (lips moving involuntarily to expel air). But nope. Apparently just tensing my hand/arm to hold the phone stopped the involuntary exhales. Once I put the phone down and rested again it started up again. I am also taking opioids at night to help me sleep which is course depresses the breathing. So, I'm thinking, a surgical event, opioid use and deep relaxation brings on the involuntary exhales for me. Once I completely recovered from surgery the first time the involuntary exhales stopped. They didn't hurt. Just an annoyance.

Jump to this post

Hello @amour49 and welcome to Connect. I am glad that you found this discussion and chose to share your own experience. It does sound like this problem has to do with recovery from surgery. You said the first time you experienced it was after your first hip surgery. Do you recall how long this involuntary exhaling lasted? Was it weeks or months?

Do you have any other lung problems?

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