Respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19, affect your respiratory system, which in turn affects your breathing. It is very common for people recovering from COVID-19 to feel breathless.

Breathlessness is a feeling of discomfort or difficulty breathing. It can make you feel anxious or scared and impact your daily activities and quality of life.


During breathlessness, you may feel “winded,” which can make it difficult to draw in a full breath. You might feel like you can’t get enough air into your lungs, and that you can’t do it quickly enough.

It may seem like you’re running short on oxygen. It may be difficult to inhale and exhale. Sometimes you might be compelled to draw a breath before you have even finished exhaling.


Breathlessness may occur during normal/routine activities such as:

Walking up or down the stairs

Cooking or cleaning the house

Getting dressed

Any activities that need a lot of energy, such as running, exercise, playing sports, etc. are more likely to cause severe breathlessness


Symptoms that appear with shortness of breath may include:

A tight sensation in your chest

A feeling of suffocation

Feeling like you need to work harder than normal to catch your breath

Feeling like you need to breathe more often or more quickly

Feeling like your body can’t get oxygen quickly enough

Feeling like you cannot take full breaths

Difficulty fully catching your breath


Some strategies to help manage breathlessness during physical activities include:


Slowing down and pacing activities. Avoid rushing into things or doing work rapidly.


Taking breaks between activities or during long or complicated activities.


Finding a comfortable and relaxing position, such as sitting and leaning forward, to help breathe.


Practicing relaxation and breathing exercises.

Take Charge of Your Recovery

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