What is shortness of breath?

Shortness of breath or breathing difficulty (dyspnea) is a condition characterized by discomfort when trying to breathe thus leading to inability to complete a breathing cycle which involves exhalation and inhalation.

When you are short of breath, you may experience chest pain as an accompanying sign.

What is shortness of breath
What is shortness of breath

Those who experience oxidative stress a lot are at a higher risk of having this condition, as well as those who has breathing difficulties.

More often than not, you experience shortness of breath anxiety anytime it is about to present.

When patients experience chest pain and shortness of breath at the same time it is often a sign of serious medical condition that requires immediate emergency response as it may lead to fainting spell spontaneously.

Breathing difficulties is often a symptom rather than a disease in itself. The following conditions and diseases may predispose you to having shortness of breath:

  • Emphysema: this is a lung disease often complicated with bronchitis.
  • Asthma.
  • Congestive heart failure.
  • Heart attack.
  • Pneumonia and pulmonary edema and other chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
  • Collapsed lungs.
  • Lung cancer.
  • Anxiety.
  • Anaphylaxis or allergic response to allergens in water or food.
  • Inflamed epiglottis referred to as epiglottitis.
  • Smoking.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Pulmonary embolism.

Shortness of breath symptoms

When you experience shortness of breath, you might be suffering from one of about medical conditions few of which has been mentioned above. Here are few of the symptoms you might experience:

  • Barking cough with burning sensation in the chest.
  • Tightness in the throat.
  • Wheezing and spontaneous fever.
  • Sudden chest pain and chest clutching.
  • Teary eyes with sudden shortness of breath.
  • The single most important symptom to look out for is Lack of oxygen which may result in asphyxiation and pale skin, this may lead to coma in extreme case.
  • Nasal congestion.
  • Heart flutter and palpitations.
  • Pain in the neck area or the jaw.

When you begin to experience any of these symptoms, it is often advisable to move to any area where there is abundance of fresh air, loosen your sleeves, and shirt collars.

  1. If you are an asthmatic patient, you need to always carry your inhaler around.
  2. Always try not to panic when having such attacks, try to have a clear mind to call for help.
  3. Call your doctor as soon as possible.

Several questions such as how fast did it happen?, what time of the day did it happen?, how long did it last? Do you smoke? Are you overweight? All these questions will help your GP to evaluate your condition carefully so need a clear mind to be able to answer these questions.

There is need for thorough medical evaluation of breathing difficulties in order to rule about 180 other diseases or disorders and infections that may cause it. The following are usually required to evaluate the breathing difficulties:

  1. Computerized tomography (CT) scan.
  2. Electrocardiograph (ECG).
  3. Complete blood biochemistry and blood count.
  4. X-rays
  5. Pleural or lung biopsy.
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