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Shortness of breath

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So you feel like you’re not getting enough air. There are many conditions that can cause this but if it comes on suddenly and is severe or you’re also having chest pain, call 911.

Shortness of breath can be caused by asthma, other lung conditions (like emphysema from long-term smoking), heart failure, panic attacks, and allergies. If you have shortness of breath with a cough and maybe fever, you may have bronchitis or pneumonia. Less common causes are cancer, a lung blood clot, air leakage around the lungs and scarring of the lung tissue.

Your doctor can help find the cause of your breathing problem. He or she might well start by asking questions and doing a physical exam. There may be some tests involved as well such as a chest x-ray and breathing tests. An EKG may be done to look for heart issues. This machine creates an electrical picture of the heart. You may need bloodwork or a chest CAT scan.

Shortness of breath can sometimes be prevented. If it is caused by allergies then avoiding things you are allergic to can help. If it is caused by smoking then smoking cessation will help. If caused by asthma, you may be given inhalers to use as treatment or prevention. Often times exercise can help but should be done with your doctor’s supervision.

Questions to ask your doctor

  1. What is the likely cause of my shortness of breath?
  2. Do I need any tests to find out the cause of my shortness of breath?
  3. Is this the sign of a more serious problem?
  4. Is it safe for me to exercise?
  5. What is my best treatment option?
  6. What kinds of things can I do at home to relieve my symptoms?

Most shortness of breath is mild and not serious. If you have new onset shortness of breath and have not had this checked out before, then you should make an appointment to get in to see your family physician.

This information has been taken from

  • Dr. Mike

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