Tips if you Feel Suffocated at Home

Health problems might include feeling breathlessness and suffocation at home. Here are some things you should know and how to deal with it when you are alone at home.


How to measure breathlessness and suffocation?

Breathlessness can be measured using a score system devised by the Medical Research Council.

No breathlessness.

Breathless on vigorous exertion – for example, running.

Breathless walking up slopes.

Breathless walking at normal pace on the flat; having to stop from time to time.

Stopping for breath after a few minutes on the level.

Too breathless to leave the house.


Be Prepared for the Doc’s Questions

The doctor will want to know more about what you were doing when you became breathless.

-Did it start suddenly or develop over time? Did anything trigger it?

-How far can you walk? Are you only breathless when you move? Is it worse when you lie down?

-Do you feel ill? Do you have a fever, weight loss or a cough? Do you have any pain in your chest?

-Are you coughing up any phlegm (sputum)? What colour is it?

-Have you lost weight, coughed up blood, been in contact with anyone with tuberculosis (TB) or travelled abroad recently?

-Have you recently been bed-bound or on a long flight?

-Do you smoke?

Asthma in winter

What can you do if you feel suffocation?

-Try not to panic, if possible.

-Call 999 if severe and sudden with no obvious cause.

-Call your GP urgently otherwise.

-Use your reliever inhaler as instructed if you have asthma.

-Use your oxygen if you have been supplied with it.


What should you do next?

You should call an ambulance if you suffer from unexpected and severe breathlessness and suffocation that lasts more than a few minutes. Otherwise, you should call your GP urgently.


How can I avoid breathlessness and suffocation?

You will need to find the original cause and try to attend to it if possible. Don’t smoke, or get help to stop smoking because all frequent serious causes of breathlessness are more likely to affect smokers. If you maintain a normal weight and do regular exercise, you are less likely to get breathless and suffocated.


What is the outlook ?

This depends on the primary cause but is generally very good. People with smoking-related diseases who continue to smoke, tend to get more and more breathless. Some people who are breathless will need oxygen.

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