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All you need to know about breathing abnormalities


Abnormalities of breathing refer to shifts in the normal respiratory rate of an individual.

At rest, the normal rate of respiration for an adult is 12-20 breaths/min. If the rate of respiration is under 12 or over 25 breaths/min, it is considered as abnormal. (1)

  • Can be self-diagnosed
  • Treatment options are available
  • Imaging and laboratory tests may be required
  • Time taken to resolve depends on the cause. Could take just a few weeks to a few months or more.

Abnormal breathing is a condition that can be caused by several different factors such as anxiety, pneumonia, asthma, lung disease, use of narcotics, drug overdose, and congestive heart failure.


  • Abnormal breath sounds
  • Cyanosis (refers to the change of face color owing to lack of oxygen)
  • Using muscles of the abdomen to breathe
  • Nasal flaring
  • Feeling weak or dizzy
  • Shortness of breath


Self-care: It is recommended that emergency services be called immediately in case of respiratory distress.

Medication: Doctors may prescribe medicine to clear airways or any kind of obstruction. Sometimes inhalers are also recommended by doctors.

Specialists: For other concerns, consult a physician or ENT specialist. In severe cases, hospitalization may be recommended by doctor.
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