Ever found yourself feeling short of breath? Well, our respiratory rate may change due to emotional stress such as when we're angry or sad. But did you know that a number of medical conditions including fever may increase respiratory rate?
Normal respiratory rate is defined as the respiratory rate taken when a person is resting and at minimum stress.
Normal respiratory rate can be used as a broad indicator of imbalance in your organ systems, or an indicator of respiratory disorders.
This is because our respiratory system and a variety of organ systems are closely linked and can be altered by changes in each other.
As a general guide:
- Normal respiratory rate between 10 to 20 breaths per minute = Healthy
- Normal respiratory rate of over 20 breaths per minute = Unwell
- Normal respiratory rate of over 24 breaths per minute = Critically ill
- Normal respiratory rate of over 27 breaths per minute = Possibly cardiac arrest
Implications of high respiratory rate
Rapid breathing can lead to light‐headedness and muscle spasms.
Implications of low respiratory rate
While slow breathing may pose dangers, it is generally better for the average person. Slow and deep breathing have shown to bring benefits such as lowering of blood pressure
Heart Rate Variability
Unlike a clock, our heart does not beat at a constant rate. The changes in the rate at which our heart beats at is known as Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
Throughout the day, our body's requirements vary depending on the activity we carry out, our mood, and many other factors.
HRV is a measure of how well our body can adapt to these changes, hence the higher our measure of HRV, the better.
Heart rate variability could be used as a basis to identify stress.
During times of mental and emotional stress, our heart rate rises, muscles tense, we
perspire more, and our breathing becomes more rapid and shallow.
If we are stressed up for prolonged periods, it affects our emotional well being in the long run and our body falls into an imbalance that can affect our physical health.
Common symptoms of such imbalance include high blood pressure, insomnia and muscle pain.
An easier alternative is to deepen our breathing. provides a simple breathing exercise to alleviate stress. Studies shows that deep, controlled breathing decreases your heart rate, whereas rapid shallow breathing increases your heart rate. When conducting deep breathing, you will feel the decrease in heart rate almost immediately.
On a regular basis, deep breathing helps replace the air in your lungs, and keep your heart rate at a calm level. You should only use practice deep breathing in a responsible manner.