Managing shortness of breath caused by extra fluid

If you have extra fluid in your body, you may feel like you can’t catch your breath. If your shortness of breath is a new symptom or if it is worse than it has been, call your doctor or nurse. The following tips can help you get rid of extra fluid and breathe more easily.

Limit Sodium and Fluids

  • Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet for 2 days. For example, if you normally have about 2,400 mg of sodium each day, limit your sodium to about 2,000 mg per day.
  • Reduce the amount of fluids you have for 2 days. For example, if you normally have 8 cups of fluids each day, reduce your fluid intake to 6 cups per day.
  • If you reduce your sodium and fluids for 2 days and are still short of breath, call your doctor.

Try Changing Positions

If you are short of breath at night, use pillows or a cushion so you are more upright. You may also try sleeping in a reclining chair. Tell your doctor or nurse if you need extra pillows or need to sleep in a chair.

Reviewed: 10/16

Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.

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