Shortness of Breath as a Coronavirus Symptom: Acupuncture
A symptom such as shortness of breath under many circumstances requires hospitalization. An example of when it may not, is if it's a symptom of anxiety as a result of a mental disorder, or as a result of exercise or walking up a flight or flights of stairs, extreme temperatures, high altitudes and so on. In most cases, shortness of breath is due to heart and lung conditions because your heart and lungs are responsible for transporting oxygen throughout your body and removing carbon dioxide.
Shortness of breath is defined as an intense tightening in your chest as if you're hungry for air, having difficulty breathing, or feeling breathless. Ways in which you can tell if you're experiencing shortness of breath is to see how well you can breathe while talking, and another is to notice if you're simply watching television or relaxing for that matter and you feel as if you're not getting enough oxygen.
As for individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, shortness of breath tends to be viewed as a severe symptom which is more times than not treated in a hospital setting with supplemental oxygen. This is done to increase the amount of oxygen in a person's blood. If you were to become worried that you're experiencing shortness of breath as a result of contracting the coronavirus, the first thing you should do although easier said than done, is to try to calm down to attempt to determine if it's simply as a result of anxiety. If the symptom persists, call your doctor immediately, especially if you've noticed you're experiencing other coronavirus symptoms along with shortness of breath.
Now let's discuss how shortness of breath is diagnosed and treated in Chinese medicine. Now the underlying pathogenesis of shortness of breath in Chinese medicine is a persons' lung qi failing to descend which can be the result of 2 different causes. 1) Can follow a pattern as excess in nature, as a result of wind-cold, or stagnant phlegm, or qi stagnation or internal heat obstructing lung qi; or 2) Following a pattern of deficiency such as lung and kidney deficiency which contributes to the failure of lung qi being able to descend.
Symptoms would present with a poor appetite with nausea and vomiting. The tongue would have a thick greasy coating to it and the pulse would be slippery. In this case I would look to clear out the phlegm to restore the descending function of lung qi. Another excess pattern could be phlegm heat accumulating in the lung. In this case there would be shortness of breath, heat sensation in the chest area accompanied with chest pain. There could be coughing with lots of thick yellow sputum. These are some of the basic patterns of shortness of breath in Chinese medicine. In my next episode I will discuss fatigue as one of the CDC's 11 symptoms of coronavirus and how it's diagnosed and treated by an acupuncturist.
Until next time... Acupuncture Is My Life, what's yours?