- Did you know that chronic breathing disorders roughly 14 million people in the United States?
Breathing is an automatic activity, which means that it’s done without any conscious effort on the part of the individual. It’s scary when breathing becomes a deliberate effort when you’re short of breath and have to encourage yourself to take deep breaths.
Shortness of breath is a sign of a variety of disorders. The most common of which are heart and lung diseases. Both are vital organs. Therefore it’s never a good idea to overlook or dismiss shortness of breath.
Shortness of breath can be caused by anything from asthma to a heart attack. Read further to find out when shortness of breath is a problem!
What Is Shortness of Breath?
Shortness of breath is known medically as dyspnea. It is often described as:
- A strong chest constriction
- A need for air
- Trouble breathing
- A feeling of breathlessness
- A sense of suffocation
In healthy people, shortness of breath can be caused by various factors, including intense exercise, excessive temperatures, obesity, and altitude above sea level. However, shortness of breath is most likely a symptom of a medical condition if not in these situations.
Insufficient oxygen causes shortness of breath, making you feel like you need to breathe harder, faster, or more profound. And if you’re not receiving enough oxygen, neither are your organs, which can have significant short- and long-term health repercussions.
Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart failure can induce shortness of breath.
If your shortness of breath persists after lifestyle changes and therapy, your doctor may recommend you to a pulmonologist or a cardiologist.
Some significant reasons for shortness of breath, such as COPD or heart failure, require a professional. A pulmonologist or cardiologist can do more extensive testing to thoroughly assess your illness and determine the best treatment options.
Consult your doctor as soon as possible if you experience unusual shortness of breath, mainly if it occurs suddenly and is serious.
What Are the Medical Causes of Shortness of Breath?
The majority of cases of shortness of breath are caused by heart or lung problems. Your heart and lungs work together to carry oxygen to your tissues and remove carbon dioxide. Abnormalities with either of these processes impair your breathing.
Shortness of breath that occurs suddenly has a restricted number of reasons, which include:
- Coronavirus disease
- Pulmonary diseases
- Respiratory tract infection
- Heart conditions
- Being unfit
- Exposure to radon gas
- Anxiety or panic attacks
If you have sudden symptoms of shortness of breath, you should contact your doctor. He can perform tests, propose lifestyle changes, or prescribe drugs to help address the underlying reason for your shortness of breath.
In the case of exposure to radon gas, you should get professionals to do radon mitigation testing in your home.
When Should you Seek Medical Treatment?
As previously noted, shortness of breath can be caused by various factors, some of which are more significant than others. But, when is it severe enough to seek medical treatment?
Seek Emergency Medical Care
If you have severe shortness of breath that comes on abruptly and impairs your ability to function, call 911 or your local emergency number. Alternatively, you can have someone drive you to the nearest emergency hospital.
Seek emergency medical attention if your shortness of breath is coupled with chest discomfort, dizziness, nausea, a blue tint to your lips or nails, or a change in mental alertness. These are all symptoms of a heart attack or lung problem.
See Your Doctor
If you have shortness of breath in addition to the following symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor. If symptoms together with your shortness of breath include:
- Swelling in your ankles and feet
- When you lie flat, you battle to breath
- You suffer from a high fever, chills, and cough
- Wheezing when breathing
- Worsening of your shortness of breath
Most individuals do not consider intermittent shortness of breath to be cause for concern. However, it is vital to schedule an appointment with your doctor if your shortness of breath is coupled with any symptoms listed above.
Taking Care of Yourself
If you suffer shortness of breath, you can often improve your lung strength by performing simple actions. To help prevent the worsening of chronic shortness of breath, you can:
Quit smoking, or don’t even consider starting. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. If you have COPD, stopping smoking can help halt the course of the condition and prevent further problems.
Stay Away From Polluted Environments
Keep as many pollutants as possible out of your lungs. Avoid inhalation of allergens and environmental contaminants like chemical fumes or secondhand smoke.
Temperature Extremes Should Be Avoided
Shortness of breath may be aggravated by physical activity in scorching and humid environments in hot temperatures and severely cold conditions. Therefore, try to always be in a moderate climate.
Keep Altitude in Mind
Take your time adjusting to higher altitudes and avoid strenuous activity until you have. Why? Higher-altitude air is colder, denser, and has less oxygen. This means you need to breathe more than at lower elevations to receive the same quantity of oxygen. Therefore, the higher you go, the harder it is to breathe.
Have an Exercise Routine
Some individuals with shortness of breath avoid exercise because it causes fatigue. But inactivity may worsen lung function.
Before beginning any new activity, talk to your doctor about the benefits of exercise. Among the practical physical activities are:
- Walking – start cautiously with a few minutes every week
- Stay flexible with stretching
- Hand-held dumbbells for weight training
- It may help to relax and revitalize the body, increase energy, quiet the mind, and enhance posture and balance
- Exercise in warm water
Please don’t overdo it. Stop, sit down, and practice your breathing exercises. If you rely on extra oxygen, ensure that your supply is enough and that your oxygen equipment is in perfect working order.
Breath In… Breath Out!
However, shortness of breath is often a sign of a more severe illness and you should address it. The goal is to keep you healthy and get you back to a place where you can be physically active and enjoy your interests again.
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Table of Content
- 1 What Is Shortness of Breath?
- 2 What Are the Medical Causes of Shortness of Breath?
- 3 When Should you Seek Medical Treatment?
- 4 Taking Care of Yourself
- 5 Breath In… Breath Out!