Shortness of breath


We breathe thirty thousand times a day, all done involuntarily, which means we do not think about our breathing at all and do not notice our breathing. Shortness of breath is a condition where we cannot fill our lungs with air normally like we were doing every day.

What you will read:

Various causes for shortness of breath
When should we see a doctor?
Signs of shortness of breath?
Classification of shortness of breath based on the duration
In what cases does the feeling of shortness of breath wake the patient?



What are the main causes of shortness of breath?

There are multiple causes for shortness of breath. Shortness of breath can have pulmonary origin which may include:

  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Pulmonary edema Interstitial lung disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Central sleep apnea
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Combined sleep apnea
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Pleural effusion
  • Bronchitis Pulmonary infections
  • COVID19
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Pneumothorax


Sometimes, shortness of breath has cardiac origin such as:

  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cardiogenic pulmonary edema
  • Cardiac tamponade
  • Heart valve failure
  • Heart attack
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Shortness of breath due to anemia
  • Shortness of breath at heights
  • Obesity and shortness of breath
  • Anxiety and shortness of breath
  • Ambient temperature too high or too low


When should we see a doctor?

As it should be clear by now, shortness of breath is just a symptom that informs the patient and the doctor about the existence of the disease and disorder in the body, where in each case, depending on the cause, requires appropriate treatment. If you experience shortness of breath, it is necessary to see a specialist to determine the cause of shortness of breath.

Severe shortness of breath that occurs suddenly and prevents you from continuing your regular activity requires immediate referral and emergency measures.

How do patients usually express their shortness of breath?

different people express their feeling of shortness of breath in different ways:

  • I cannot breath
  • I'm short of breath
  • I get tired while walking
  • My breathing rhythm has changed

Shortness of breath is when you notice your involuntary breathing and you have a great thirst to swallow more oxygen.


Classification of shortness of breath based on its duration:

Depending on how long a shortness of breath lasts, it can be categorized into two classes:

  1. Acute and subacute shortness of breath
  2. Chronic shortness of breath

Acute and subacute shortness of breath:
Acute and subacute shortness of breath is when a few days to a few weeks have passed since its start date. Some of the most common reasons are:

  • Asthma attack
  • Lung infections
  • Accumulation of fluid in the pleural space
  • Heart attack

Chronic shortness of breath:
If more than a few weeks has passed since the onset of shortness of breath, it may be categorized as chronic shortness of breath. The following diseases can cause this kind of shortness of breath:

  • Heart failure
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Severe obesity
  • Kyphoscoliosis

In what cases does the feeling of shortness of breath wake the patient?

In the following three diseases, shortness of breath can wake the patient:

  • Asthma
  • Heart failure
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

In most cases, shortness of breath occurs during exercise. Sometimes the patient avoids activity as a fear of shortness of breath.



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