Caring for your HIV-related problem: Shortness of Breath 
PROBLEM: Feeling an unpleasant sensation of difficulty breathing, inability to take a deep breath, "winded," or a "smothering" feeling. Shortness of breath may also be associated with stress, anxiety, racing heartbeats, dizziness.

Some shortness of breath, especially with strenuous activity, is to be expected. However, if you experience a change your ability to "catch your breath" or have trouble with shortness of breath at rest, report it to your physician or nurse. Weakness due to HIV infection, HIV medications, drugs or other health problems can cause shortness of breath too.

TREATMENT:  There are many ways to treat this problem. The first step is to contact your physician or nurse. By working together, a treatment plan can be developed for you. This plan may include prescription or non-prescription medications, or other treatments.
SELF CARE:  Here are some strategies you may try to help you feel better:
  • Take time out each day to relax, listening to music or relaxation tapes, or other relaxing activities that you enjoy.
  • Take a walk daily at your own pace, in your home or outside. Muscles that are weak from lack of activity or exercise, can make you feel short of breath with any movement. Routine exercise can reduce your shortness of breath related to muscle weakness.
  • Try to use these breathing strategies with activities that make you winded such as walking quickly. The key is to inhale and breathe out slowly.
  • Pursed Lips Breathing: breathe in normally through the nose while counting s-l-o-w-l-y to two; purse lips, as if about to whistle; breathe out slowly through your pursed lips (take twice as long as you did to breathe in - count slowly to four).
  • Controlled or Paced Breathing: this is the use of Pursed Lips Breathing with activities which make you winded, such as climbing stairs, walking quickly or lifting heavy objects. The key is to inhale slowly (at rest if possible) and exhale through pursed lips while performing the work. Focus on breathing out slowly and evenly.
  • Contact your physician or nurse for further instructions or other breathing strategies.
Guidelines for the symptoms of
Anxiety Depression Diarrhea Fatigue Fever
Forgetfulness Insomnia Lipodystrophy Nausea Neuropathy
Night Sweats Shortness of Breath Skin Rash/Dermatitis Unplanned Weight Loss Vaginal Problems
U N I V E R S I T Y  O F  C A L I F O R N I A , S A N F R A N C I S C O