I wonder if this really has to do with Lupus at all since I don't find much that's similar in the forum here. Occasionally, but more frequently lately, I have trouble sleeping and from the time I first developed symptoms some 4 or 5 years ago, I have the sensation that I can't breathe. It's not true, literally, but it still feels that way. They'll check my pulse/ox and it's fine. I've learned over the years that if my bp gets too high, I can't breathe all the way in. If my blood sugar goes too high or too low, I can't breathe all the way in. If I have what I call a flare, it always starts with a tightness around my ribs, pleurisy pain and I can't breathe all the way in.
So typically I first check my bp and sugar levels. If those are fine, I watch for other Lupus symptoms and often a slight increase of prednisone will take care of it. BUT once in a while something happens that I can't readily explain. My doctor doesn't know and just says it's probably a panic attack. And it may be. For instance, I didn't sleep well last night - only slept about 4 hours - and got up and started work on my computer early. When I hit a lull around 10 am, I laid back down thinking a nap would help. I started dreaming about being in an office where they were renovating. I didn't figure it out at first, but realized I was reacting to the dust and tried to get outside for air but by the time I got outside, I couldn't draw enough breath to call for my husband and started to panic until the dream went black and I woke up. Sure enough, I couldn't breathe and it took probably 5 - 6 minutes to calm myself enough to be able to draw a full breath. Did the dream cause a panic attack? Or did my shortness of breath cause the dream?
I Googled "can't breathe" and came across several articles on air hunger and some links to Lupus in the midst. But no real explanation of what causes it or more importantly, how you might control it. Any ideas here?
Because there are soooo many reasons why you feel as though you can't get enough air, there is virtually no way that we can offer advice on how to control it. Since it usually happens in the situations that you listed, which increases your stress levels, have you given any thought to checking to see if you may have a touch of asthma? What you describe sound so much like what my son experiences with his asthma.
I do hope that you find an answer, and a way to treat/control this. Please speak to your doctor and then let us know what you and he decide.
Peace and Blessings