One of the most vital task that is taken care of our brain in our body is breathing. No matter how hard you try, you cannot hold back your breathing beyond a certain time period. In this article, we will look into answers for following questions: whether we are breathing the right way? Is our breathing rate is normal? what are the symptoms that indicate a problem in our breathing system? Will irregular breathing lead to bad health effects? etc..
Starting Stage of Breathing
Once the baby is born, it will start to cry due to the sheer stress of having to breathe the air from its surroundings. This is considered as the initial breathing for the baby. For nearly 10 months baby was very comfortable in breathing the air from mother’s womb. The first cry of a baby occurs when it starts to breathe air from the outside environment, right from that moment forward, the breathing is taken care by the brain until its end of days.
Breathing rate is usually calculated when a person is at rest. It is the number of times a person breathes in and out per minute. Our breathing count almost remains the same while we are at rest and at sleep. Though there will be variation in the speed at which we breathe during sleep, the breathing count remains almost the same. Normally, we breathe for 12 to 18 times per minute.
How to calculate breathing rate?
Like mentioned earlier, breathing rate is the number of times we breathe in and out per minute. This count can vary due to different factors. For example, calculating the breathing rate of a person with heart disease, Asthma, obesity, and breathing problems is little difficult. Another vital factor that needs to be considered while calculating breathing rate is the time duration we spend to calculate it. Breathing rate should not be calculated right after an exercise, workout, walking, or any physically exhausting task. Breathing rate calculated during these periods won’t be accurate. Exact breathing rate should only be calculated while we are at rest.
Another big challenge that lies ahead while calculating breathing rate is the brain’s activity. Our brain determines the rate out breathing. Whenever we need more oxygen, or whenever there are excessive levels of carbon-dioxide in our body, our brain will make us to breathe at a higher rate. For example, when we fall sick or fall prey to an infection, the CO2 levels in our body can boost up ( While oxygen levels still remaining normal) and our brain will increase our breathing rate to get rid of excessive CO2.
When will the breathing rate drop?
When a person is under the influence of alcohol or narcotics his breathing pattern won’t be normal and drop to a considerable extent. The main reason for this is, the person’s brain functioning will fall drastically while he is under the influence of alcohol or under some drugs which will slow down the rate at which brain processes the information passed on to it. Due to this reason, the person’s breathing rate will be much slower. Alternatively, our breathing rate will also be slower whenever we undergo an accident in the head region and our brain gets damaged in the process.
What about Children?
A walking toddler’s breathing rate will be lower than that of a baby that doesn’t walk. In medical term, it is called as Period breathing. During periodic breathing, the breathing speed and rate of the children will vary a lot. A baby could breath faster one minute and the next minute it can breathe at a slower rate. There are certain things that need to be kept in mind when it comes to periodic breathing. It may be a worrying factor for some parents when they notice their babies breathing at a much higher or at a lower rate. If the baby doesn’t have any health conditions, then periodic breathing is something that most parents should not worry about, it is quite normal. Else, it should be something that needs an immediate Doctor’s attention.
Abnormal breathing rate
Abnormal breathing rate is a primary indication that something is wrong with our health. During these times our breathing rate will either be very low or very high. This could be due to various reasons. At the same time, a rapid increase in breathing rate during a workout or exercise is quite normal.
An adult human (over 20 years) should breathe at the rate of 20 breaths per minute. On the contrary, if it is over 24 then it is a sign of upcoming danger. A person is considered to be fit or unfit based on his/her pulse rate and blood pressure levels.
There are many reasons that are cited for abnormal breathing pattern. Some reasons include malfunctioning of lungs and some problems may not have any relation to lungs and breathing system.
What are the reasons for increase in breathing rate
Fever: To reduce the body’s temperature during a fever, our brain will make us breathe at a higher rate. This increase in breathing rate might make the existing condition much severe. In children when their body’s temperature increases by 1 degree beyond the normal range, there will be a noticeable increase in their breathing rate from 5 to 7 beyond the normal range. At the same time, there are no conclusive studies that suggest babies below 12 months of age show a similar increase in their breathing rate. However, these babies can show an increase in their breathing rate from 7 to 11 beyond the normal range, when there is an increase in their body temperature by one degree.
Dehydration: Whenever our body runs out of normal water levels, the condition which is termed as dehydration, it can lead to increase in breathing rate.
Asthma: Asthma can lead to increase in breathing rate.
CPOD: People with long-term CPOD or lung conditions will have elevated breathing rate. Smoking people, in particular, will have abnormally high breathing rate.
Depression: When a person undergoes depression, stress, pain, anger and under physical attack, his breathing rate will increase.
Lung Cancer: Victims of lung cancer will have high breathing rate. When high-density blood travels from their legs to the lungs, their breathing rate will increase.
Diseases: Diseases like flu, pneumonia, TB can increase the breathing rate.
Just born babies: Just born babies can undergo a condition called TTN, during this time they can have little difficulty in their breathing, this is quite normal and usually eased out after 24 hours.
Diabetes: Diabetic patients can show an increase in acidic levels in their body, this will lead to increased breathing rate.
Pain Killers: Taking in painkillers and sleeping pills will increase the breathing rate.
When will it drop?
- When the breathing rate drops below 12 to 8 range, then it should be brought to Doctor’s attention immediately
- Alcohol and narcotic use can reduce the breathing rate
- Abnormal metabolic changes can lead to drop in breathing rate.
- Stroke, epilepsy, injury to the head can reduce the functioning of the brain thereby reducing the breathing rate.
Allergy, asthma, lung infections, lung cancer, COPD, pneumonia can alter the breathing pattern. So we need to detect the real reason behind the problem and take appropriate treatments to cure the disease.
Pulmonary function test, blood test, scan, sleep test and lung test are usually prescribed to detect if there are any diseases associated with lungs. There are certain vaccines available to prevents lung infections and lung-related diseases, which can be taken as a precaution based on Doctor’s advice.
Steps to Prevent breathing problems
- Our immediate surroundings must be kept clean and maintained in hygienic condition.
- Smoke released from the kitchen should have a proper outlet.
- Toilet cleaners and phenyl must be handled and used with care
- Wear a mask while cleaning the home and while riding a bike.
- Avoid smoking and also avoid remaining in close proximity to a person who smokes cigarettes
- Have hygienically prepared healthy food.
- Practice yoga, pranayama, and meditation regularly every day.
- If you have any lung and breathing-related problems, bring it to the Doctor’s attention immediately.
Normal Breathing Rate Scale (Per Minute)
- Babies from 1 month to 12 months old: 30 to 60 times
- Kids from 1 to 2 years old: 24 to 40 times
- Kids from 3 to 5 years old: 22 to 34 times
- Kids from 6 to 12 years old: 18 to 30 times
- Children from 13 to 17 years old: 12 to 16 times
- Adults over 18 years: 12 to 20 times