Shortness of breath is characterized by discomfort when breathing. It may develop gradually or suddenly start from the presence of slight breathing problems. Shortness of breath is a normal sensation after intense effort, such as fatigue after exercise, or difficulties in breathing due to anxiety or stress. However, it becomes problematic when it occurs after minimal or even effortless exercise, worsening or accompanied by other symptoms, such as chest pain or leg edema.
1. What are the causes of shortness of breath?
Shortness of breath can be linked to various pathologies, in particular cardiac, respiratory (pulmonary), metabolic (like obesity), and even sometimes psychological (anxiety). Most causes of shortness of breath, however, are disorders of the lungs or heart.
In case of unusual shortness of breath, the doctor will carry out a full examination, listening to the heart and lungs, studying the history, and, if necessary, carrying out additional examinations.
Among the most common causes:
If you hear beeps while breathing, the problem is likely not to be serious, but it must be treated as well. In such a case, you may have asthma or emphysema.
1.2. Pulmonary embolism
Sudden breathlessness can, in rare cases, be a symptom of thrombosis (clot) in the lungs, a condition known as “pulmonary embolism.”
This condition can be preceded by swelling in the foot or pain. This situation requires emergency medical procedures, even if the shortness of breath is not severe.
1.3 Hyperventilation syndrome
Hyperventilation syndrome is a common cause in young adults and even those who have it.
If this position is accompanied by feeling numb or stinging in the fingers, this may indicate a problem in most cases.
When this syndrome occurs, the person breathes more than he needs, due to fear or anxiety, but he still feels shortness of breath.
Depression is also one of the emotional problems that may cause shortness of breath, as deep breathing and groans are among the widespread things among people with depression.
- Physical exertion such as brisk walking, running, or climbing stairs
- Lung cancer
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
2. Cases in which shortness of breath is not considered dangerous
Shortness of breath is one of the natural symptoms that accompany increased physical activity.
- Cases of shortness of breath caused by great effort.
- Feeling unable to breathe when the nose is clogged.
These cases are not supposed to cause any anxiety.
3. Cases in which shortness of breath is dangerous
Shortness of breath expresses a problem in the following cases:
- After doing a little effort or during a break.
- When waking up at night, feeling shortness of breath.
- When using a number of pillows under the head to prevent shortness of breath during sleep.
In such cases, shortness of breath is a dangerous sign, and it is preferable to see a doctor urgently to assess your health.
4. What are the consequences of shortness of breath?
Shortness of breath can limit movement, making daily activities like climbing stairs, cleaning, just putting on your shoes, or doing your shopping might be difficult.
It can be associated with poor oxygenation of the organs and must, therefore, be taken care of quickly.
5. When to consult a doctor?
People who have shortness of breath at rest, chest pain, palpitations, reduced level of consciousness, restlessness or confusion, or who have difficulty inhaling and exhaling from their lungs, they have to go immediately to the hospital. These people may need immediate examinations, treatment, and sometimes hospitalization. Others should consult a doctor. The doctor can determine how quickly they should be examined, depending on the nature and severity of their symptoms, their age, and the underlying conditions. Generally, they should be reviewed within a few days.
6. Treatment of shortness of breath
The treatment is directed against its cause and depends on the results of medical tests. The doctor will focus on treating the cause.
For example, if the sickness is due to asthma, the inhaler can be used as a treatment.
If it is due to poor physical condition, your doctor will likely suggest a fitness program.
Sometimes you will simply have to deal with the symptoms until the problem is resolved; for example, in pregnancy, shortness of breath must improve after the birth of the baby.
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Originally published on Live Positively.