With so much information during this uncertain time, it’s hard not
to feel anxiety. High levels of anxiety however could affect your health
and lead to symptoms that mimic those of COVID-19.
Shortness of breath is identified as an increased effort to breathe, chest
tightness or a feeling of not getting enough oxygen. While this can be
attributed to both anxiety and coronavirus, their symptoms are quite different.
Symptoms of anxiety can also include: feelings of panic and fear, obsessive
thoughts, excessive sweating, heart palpitations, nausea, dizziness. Symptoms
of coronavirus include: fever, dry cough, aches and pains, nasal congestion,
sore throat, or diarrhea – the major distinctions in this case being
fever and dry cough.
A person who is experiencing shortness of breath due to anxiety may also
only experience it in intervals lasting 10 – 30 minutes at a time
and symptoms will likely come and go throughout the day. Whereas a person
with coronavirus who is having difficulty breathing will experience it
for a longer period of time, typically alongside flu-like symptoms.
If you find that you are experiencing anxiety, here are some things that
you can do to help ease the symptoms that you may be feeling:
- Take slow deep breaths
- Go for a walk or try a stretching exercise
- Limit the amount of news you watch and read
- Watch a funny video or movie
- Read a book or find a hobby you enjoy
If you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety that won’t go away,
talk with your doctor about your options. If your shortness of breath
is coupled with symptoms of coronavirus, contact your healthcare provider.
Stephen McCulloh, MD
Baton Rouge General Physicians