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I Have Dizziness & Shortness of Breath While Running

by
author image Melissa McNamara
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.
I Have Dizziness & Shortness of Breath While Running
Dizziness and shortness of breath while running can be alarming. Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

If you experience dizziness and shortness of breath while running, it can be an alarming experience, but these symptoms are usually not a cause for concern. These symptoms may occur if you have exercise-induced asthma, a sudden drop in blood pressure or are dehydrated. There are several steps you can take to treat and prevent these symptoms from occurring while running.

Cause

If exercise-induced asthma causes your symptoms, then drying and cooling of the airways is often the cause. Cold, dry and polluted air can increase the severity of your shortness of breath if you have this type of asthma. As for dizziness, if you abruptly stop running, your blood vessels are dilated while running which allows fast blood flow to the muscles you’re using. Suddenly stopping will slow your heart, but your blood vessels will stay open and you may experience a drop in blood pressure, according to Go Ask Alice of the Health Services at Columbia University. Dehydration can also cause dizziness.

Treatment

A bronchodilator can open your airways when used before running in order to improve shortness of breath caused by asthma. The same bronchodilator used to prevent bronchospasms can offer immediate relief while running, according to the University of Iowa Health Topics. For long-term relief, there are several pills and inhaled medications available. Since exercise-induced asthma can be worse for allergy sufferers, treating allergies with antihistamines or immunotherapy injections can offer relief. If you feel like fainting while running, lie down with your head level to your heart, according to Go Ask Alice of the Health Services at Columbia.

Prevention

Warm up for 10 to 15 minutes before you run. Breathe through your nose instead of taking big gulps of air through the mouth. Breathing through your nose naturally warms, moistens and filters air entering your airwaves. If it’s cold outside, wear a scarf over your nose and mouth. Instead of suddenly stopping your run, cool down for five to 10 minutes by transitioning from a light jog to walking before stopping your workout. Make sure to drink plenty of water well before your run, during and afterwards to ward off dehydration. Perform the "talk test" of perceived exertion often during your run to prevent hyperventilation and the ensuing dizziness. If you are barely able to talk while running, then you are still in the safe zone of "cardiorespiratory exercise intensity."

Considerations

Dizziness and shortness of breath while running are usually not serious symptoms, and they will often stop without medical care. These symptoms can also signify a serious underlying issue, such as heart problems or a stroke. If you experience dizziness and shortness of breath in combination with chest pain, heart palpitations, speech changes or visual disturbances, seek immediate medical attention.

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