Shortness of breath can range from severe and long-lasting, mild and temporary. There are different causes of dyspnea which makes it sometimes difficult to diagnose and treat. It is a common problem. One in every four people who visit the doctor has dyspnea. It can happen due to spending time at high altitudes, overexertion, or as a symptom of a range of conditions. A serious medical condition may signify if dyspnea occurs suddenly or with severe symptoms.
Symptoms of dyspnea – shortness of breath after exertion or due to a medical condition, labored breathing, as a result of breathing difficulties feeling suffocated or smothered, rapid, swelling breathing, tightness in the chest, wheezing, heart palpitations, coughing.
An episode of dyspnea is not always directly related to an individual’s health. After intense exercise, a person can feel short of breath or go through a significant temperature change or travel to a high altitude. Sometimes when people go out of shape it can be caused and by exercise, they can improve its symptoms. The most common cause is related to asthma, heart failure, COPD, pneumonia, interstitial lung disease, and psychogenic problems that are usually linked to anxiety.
In an acute case of dyspnea shortness of breath starts suddenly. For people with a terminal illness, it is expected. If shortness of breath is felt over a month, then it is called chronic dyspnea. Some additional lung infections can cause shortness of breath.
People with dyspnea will face breathing problems because of environmental pollutions. These pollutions include chemicals, fumes, dust, and smoke. People who suffer from asthma may find that exposure to pollen or mold which are allergens may trigger dyspnea. COPD refers to different obstructive lung diseases. All these conditions cause breathing problems. Not everyone with dyspnea has COPD.
Dyspnea can be associated with hypoxemia or hypoxia, which is low blood oxygen levels. This can cause a decreased level of consciousness and other severe symptoms. If it continues for some time and is extreme, there is a risk of temporary or permanent cognitive impairment. It can be an indication of other medical problems.
Diagnosis of Dyspnea –
- A doctor will diagnose it based on a complete physical examination of the person and the entire prescription of the experiences.
- A person will have to explain how and when their attacks of dyspnea started, how long they last, how severe they are, and how long they last.
- The doctors may use chest X-Rays and computed tomography images to make a more specific diagnosis and evaluate the health of the lungs, heart, and related systems.
- ECG might help to show any sign of a heart attack or other electrical problem in the heart.
- Spirometry tests can be used to measure the patient’s lung capacity and airflow.
Treatment of Dyspnea –
- The cause of the problem will help to decide what treatment to be followed.
- Due to over-exertion, a person suffers from shortness of breath. The person will get back their breath once they stop and relax.
- In more severe cases, additional oxygen might be needed.
- People who have chronic conditions can take the help of a healthcare provider who will help them to breathe more easily.
- If it is linked to asthma, it can be treated with bronchodilators and steroids.