• Linda Laughlin Linda Laughlin
    December 30, 2008
    When I raise my hands over my head (to dry my hair etc,) I have difficulty breathing, is this asthma
    Linda Laughlin Linda Laughlin
    December 30, 2008

    I was diagnoised with asthma 2 years ago.  After also being treated for acid reflux (due to stomach ulcers), it completely went away for over a year.  The tightness is chest, wheezing, short of breath & rapid breathing &heart rate slowy began to return.  When I raise my arms in the morning to dry my hair, etc. my breathing becomes rapid and difficult.  Sometimes I have to stop and rest.  Also, sometimes when I turn a certain way, or bend over, symtoms suddenly occur.  Is this caused from asthma or another illness?  I am a 54 year old woman in other wise good health.  I walk every evening, practice simple yoga, and do not smoke,  I am not overweight, and my blood pressure is excellant.  I never had an asthma problem until the last few years. 



  • James Thompson, MD
    Health Pro
    January 07, 2009
    James Thompson, MD
    Health Pro
    January 07, 2009

    Hi LL, you should have your medical doctor examine you at the earliest possibility. We cannot diagnose conditions online.  Many more questions, a physical exam and possibly special tests (lung function test, chest x-ray, blood test, tests for acid reflux and/or echocardiogram) may be needed for an accurate assessment, which is why you must see your doctor.


    That said, it is possible that the breathing difficulty associated with raising your hands over your head is related to asthma but this would be very unusual as an only trigger. I would expect such an association to be confined to someone with moderate to severe asthma which means there would likely be other signs of poorly controlled asthma. Some of these signs include night time awakening with asthma symptoms, shortness of breath after minimal activities (for example walking a short distance or after one flight of stairs) or limitations in performing daily tasks at home, work or school.


    You mentioned other worsening symptoms which have returned (rapid heart rate, rapid breathing etc.). These symptoms may be related to asthma, but may also be associated with heart and blood vessel disorders. On the other hand, asthma may not be the cause of your difficult breathing at all. Perhaps there is a musculoskeletal problem (something wrong with the relationship of your shoulder and upper chest muscles to the attached bone and joint structures). Maybe a fume from the dryer is irritating your lungs. Worsening acid reflux (or a combination of these disorders) is possible. Heart related problems, as mentioned, cannot be ruled out.


    It takes more energy than one might think to keep their hands and arms above the head especially if an object is being held or moved around, but I think the shortness of breath in your case signals a problem that warrants further address. Again, get checked out as soon as you can. Please post a follow-up comment after you have your answer. Good Luck!


    J. Thompson, MD

    • huckaday
      May 20, 2015
      May 20, 2015
      Im also a life long Asthmatic and have the same problem. After washing my hair I am exhausted because I have such a hard time filling my lungs. It does feel like it possible problem with my ribcage/sternum though... as if they don't expand properly. I have had issues with crepitus in my sternum and what feels like ribs that slip in and out from that area...gets very sore sometimes. I have very rounded shoulders from years of Asthma. Now that I am in my 40's it is causing a lot of pain in my neck and back as well... I tell my teenagers ...stand up straight, shoulders back and you will thank yourself later in life! :) I also will get massive thunderclap like headaches out of the blue while showering...almost like someone hit me with a sledgehammer...excruciating pain, right up there with childbirth! Needless to say my hair doesn't get washed everyday! lol I hope you get some answers, I would love to see what your doctor says. READ MORE
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