What Causes Heavy Breathing? Here are 7 Conditions That Cause Heavy Breathing

Do you know what causes heavy breathing? Read this article to know 7 lesser-known medical reasons for heavy breathing.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: Jul 15, 2021Updated at: Jul 15, 2021
What Causes Heavy Breathing? Here are 7 Conditions That Cause Heavy Breathing

Heavy breathing while doing vigorous exercises or tiring activities is normal but what if you breathe heavily while sitting idle? This sounds unlikely but this indication could be of a serious illness. A person breathes heavily when the body requires extra oxygen. While exerting the body naturally demands more oxygen, the same without exertion means that your body is not receiving oxygen and it is getting harder to get it. There could be many reasons for heavy breathing from blocked nose to blood disorders to lung disorders to ill-functioning of the heart.

Causes of Heavy Breathing

In this article, we will talk in detail about the different causes of heavy breathing. Since many organs including your nose, mouth and lungs are involved in the breathing process, heavy breathing could be caused when either of these is impaired. Read below the possible causes of heavy breathing:

Cold and sinus

According to Dr. Manohar, Internal Medicine Expert at Manipal Hospitals, if you have a cold and sinus, you can experience breathing discomfort as viruses and bacteria cause nasal blockage affecting the supply of oxygen to your lungs. Besides, increased production of mucus and inflammation in the sinuses also obstruct breathing. Here are the symptoms of cold and sinus:

  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • Headaches
  • Pain on different parts of the face
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue
Cold and sinus


If you are allergic to something, it is because your immune system is overreacting to common substances like food, pollen, dust, etc. When an allergic reaction occurs, it makes several changes in the body that may affect your respiratory system as well. The serious allergic reaction that causes swelling in the mouth and throat(anaphylaxis) is most likely to make you breathe heavily.

Identifying allergies and symptoms can help you find out the reason behind heavy breathing. Some symptoms of allergies include:

  • Stuffy and runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Itching
  • Rashes, hives
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea



If you are asthmatic, you may experience heavy breathing. This is because asthma is a respiratory illness that makes airways inflamed causing hindrance in oxygen supply to the lungs. This inflammation does not let air reach your lungs and this is why you experience heavy breathing. Here are symptoms why you might be experiencing heavy breathing due to asthma:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in chest

Take your asthma medicine when you suffer from these symptoms to get relief.

Respiratory infections

The next reason why heavy breathing might be caused is a respiratory infection. The various types of respiratory infection are bronchitis, tuberculosis and pneumonia. These are caused due to viruses and bacteria. The common signs and symptoms of respiratory illnesses are fever, cough, chest discomfort. Mucus in cough, headache fatigue, chills, and loss of appetite. You must take antibiotics to clear up your respiratory tract and get aid. You would find relief within a couple of days or maybe weeks if it is a bacterial infection.

Also Read: Yoga For COPD: These Yoga Asanas Better Lung and Respiratory Functions For Utmost Relief


Your anxious behaviour may also cause shortness of breath or heavy breathing. While there is no direct link between anxiety and respiration but it is found that anxiety can trigger abnormal respiration. Your tense mood causes your body to breathe faster in order to calm down your brain. Hyperventilation is the other term for heavy breathing that might be accompanied by chest pain, excessive sweating, shaking, trembling, dizziness, diarrhoea, etc.

Respiratory infections

Treat your anxiety first and heavy breathing would automatically become normal. You can try relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, antianxiety medicines, therapy, etc.


If the amount of visceral fat in your body is high and your BMI is 30 or above, you are obese. This puts you at risk of heavy breathing along with other diseases. Due to excess weight, your lungs need to work harder to pump oxygen to the organs and this can lead to heavy breathing. You would not be able to exert the body much or else you would find yourself panting. If you are obese and you experience heavy breathing, it is high time that you control your weight and work on your body. This would bring innumerable benefits to your overall health.

Also Read: Trying To Lose Weight? Try These 9 Detox Drinks For Weight Loss

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD

This is a lung disorder that includes several diseases like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, etc. This is a chronic disorder that hampers your entire respiratory system and can do further damage to the lungs if not treated timely. Apart from heavy breathing, if you notice these symptoms, make sure to see a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Chronic cough
  • Wheezing
  • Increased production of mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

These are seven major medical conditions that cause heavy breathing. While heavy breathing during exercising or doing vigorous physical activities is fine, it should not be impromptu. If you experience frequent episodes of heavy breathing, you must get medical advice.

Read More Articles in Other Diseases