BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuBreathing difficulty - lying downWaking at night short of breath; Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea; PND; Difficulty breathing while lying down; Orthopnea; Heart failure - orthopneaBreathing difficulty while lying down is an abnormal condition in which a person has a problem breathing normally when lying flat. The head must be raised by sitting or standing to be able to breathe deeply or comfortably.A type of breathing difficulty while lying down is paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea. This condition causes a person to wake up suddenly during the night feeling short of breath. Considerations This is a common complaint in people with some types of heart or lung problems. Sometimes the problem is subtle. People may only notice it when they realize that sleep is more comfortable with lots of pillows under their head, or their head in a propped-up position. Causes Causes may include:Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseaseChronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common lung disease. Having COPD makes it hard to breathe. There are two main forms of COPD:Chroni...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Cor pulmonale Cor pulmonaleCor pulmonale is a condition that causes the right side of the heart to fail. Long-term high blood pressure in the arteries of the lung and right ve...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Heart failure Heart failureHeart failure is a condition in which the heart is no longer able to pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body efficiently. This causes symptom...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Obesity (does not directly cause difficulty breathing while lying down but often worsens other conditions that lead to it) ObesityObesity means weighing more than what is healthy for a given height. Obesity is a serious, chronic disease. It can lead to other health problems, i...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Panic disorder Panic disorderPanic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which you have repeated attacks of intense fear that something bad will happen.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Sleep apnea Sleep apneaObstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a problem in which your breathing pauses during sleep. This occurs because of narrowed or blocked airways.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article SnoringSnoringSnoring is a loud, hoarse, harsh breathing sound that occurs during sleep. Snoring is common in adults. Loud, frequent snoring can make it hard for...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Home Care Your health care provider may recommend self-care measures. For example, weight loss may be suggested if you are obese. When to Contact a Medical Professional If you have any unexplained difficulty in breathing while lying down, call your provider. What to Expect at Your Office Visit The provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about the problem. Questions may include:Did this problem develop suddenly or slowly? Is it getting worse (progressive)? How bad is it? How many pillows do you need to help you breathe comfortably? Is there any ankle, foot, or leg swelling? Ankle, foot, or leg swellingPainless swelling of the feet and ankles is a common problem, especially among older people. Abnormal buildup of fluid in the ankles, feet, and legs ...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Do you have difficulty breathing at other times? How tall are you? How much do you weigh? Has your weight changed recently? What other symptoms do you have? The physical exam will include special attention to the heart and lungs (cardiovascular and respiratory systems).CardiovascularThe term cardiovascular refers to the heart (cardio) and the blood vessels (vascular). The cardiovascular system includes:ArteriesArteriolesCapillar...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article RespiratoryThe words "respiratory" and "respiration" refer to the lungs and breathing.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Tests that may be performed include the following:Chest x-ray Chest x-rayA chest x-ray is an x-ray of the chest, lungs, heart, large arteries, ribs, and diaphragm.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article ECG ECGAn electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that records the electrical activity of the heart.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Echocardiogram EchocardiogramAn echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart. The picture and information it produces is more detailed than a s...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Pulmonary function testsPulmonary function testsPulmonary function tests are a group of tests that measure breathing and how well the lungs are functioning.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Treatment depends on the cause of the breathing problem. You may need to use oxygen.Open ReferencesReferencesBraithwaite SA, Perina D. Dyspnea. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 22.Fajardo E, Davis JL. History and physical examination. In: Broaddus VC, Ernst JD, King TE, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 18.Januzzi JL, Mann DL. Approach to the patient with heart failure. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 21.McMurray JJV, Pfeffer MA. Heart failure: management and prognosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 53.AllVideoImagesTogBreathing - illustration Breathing consists of two phases. The first phase is the inspiration phase. Inspiration allows air to flow into the lungs. The second phase is expiration. Expiration involves gases leaving the lungs. During inspiration, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles contract allowing air to enter the lungs. During expiration, the inspiration muscles relax forcing gases to flow out of the lungs.BreathingillustrationBreathing - illustration Breathing consists of two phases. The first phase is the inspiration phase. Inspiration allows air to flow into the lungs. The second phase is expiration. Expiration involves gases leaving the lungs. During inspiration, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles contract allowing air to enter the lungs. During expiration, the inspiration muscles relax forcing gases to flow out of the lungs.BreathingillustrationSelf Care Postural drainage Related Information Review Date: 1/16/2021 Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- © 1997- All rights reserved. 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