Shortness of breath or difficult breathing is a common problem in many people. Most cases of this problem are caused by lung or heart conditions. The main function of your lungs and heart are to transport oxygen to the tissues and remove carbon dioxide. And if there is any problem with these processes it will affect your breathing. Different individuals express shortness of breath in different ways. Descriptions can include one feeling of being suffocated, one tightening in the chest, or one elephant sitting on your chest. Many shortness of breath causes are innocent, including strenuous exercise, extremes in temperature, high altitudes, and being out of shape. Shortness of breath should be decided by a physician. Here are 12 medical causes of shortness of breath that are collected by VKool.com. Read on and remember!
Top 12 Medical Shortness Of Breath Causes You Must Know
How you characterize shortness of breath can assist to determine the cause. Asthma is one of the main shortness of breath causes. Asthma is characterized by intermittent and inflammation narrowing of your airways. The excess mucus production may be triggered by the airway inflammation. The narrowing of the bronchoconstriction or airways is caused by the tightening of muscles encircling your airways. Both mechanisms lead to decreased airflow to your lungs. Symptoms of asthma include cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness as well. There is no remedy for asthma. Luckily, you can use medications to manage this problem. Most asthma patients are prescribed medications for instant relief.
Pneumonia is one infection of your lung. The cause of pneumonia is microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Adults older than 65 and children younger than two are easily affected by pneumonia. Or, individuals with weakened immune systems or pre-existing health problems also get affected with pneumonia easily. Plus, individuals with abuse alcohol or smoke are also at increased chance of developing pneumonia. Some pneumonia symptoms consist of a cough, fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Diagnosis of the condition can be carried out with a chest X-ray. Complications of pneumonia may consist of lung abscess, accumulation of fluid or bacteria in the blood around your lungs.
Pneumothorax means the abnormal presence of air between the lung plus chest wall. Pneumothorax is caused by many reasons such as chest injury (penetrating or blunt), lung disease, air blisters, or mechanical ventilation. Those diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) or individuals who smoke cigarettes have an increased chance of developing pneumothorax. Shortness of breath, sudden chest pain, and excessive sweating are considered as one of the main symptoms of pneumothorax. Diagnosis of pneumothorax may be made with a CT scan or chest X-ray. It is important to avoid deep sea diving or air travel until total resolution of the episode for individuals diagnosed with pneumothorax.
4. Pulmonary Embolism
Pulmonary embolism is also one of the shortness of breath causes. This condition is explained as one blood clot in your lungs. This blood clot leads to a blockage in one of your pulmonary arteries that supply lung tissue. DVT (deep vein thrombosis) is the main cause of pulmonary embolism. DVT are blood clots developing deep in your lower extremities. Shortness of breath, chest pain, anxiety, clammy skin, swelling in the calf, and coughing up blood are the major symptoms of pulmonary embolism. Diagnosis of this condition is often not easy and may include many tests such as chest X-ray, blood, MRI or CT scan, and pulmonary angiography.
5. Lung Cancer
Lung cancer refers to the uncontrolled abnormal cells’ growth in lung tissue. The top cause of cancer deaths in the US is lung cancer. The majority of lung cancer is caused by cigarette smoking. The lung cancer includes two major types: small cell (SCLC) and non-small cell (NSCLC). The majority of lung cancer is small cell and includes large cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma. The most common lung cancer form is adenocarcinoma. If you are suffering from lung cancer, you will face some symptoms including shortness of breath, wheezing, persistent cough, hoarseness, chest pain, coughing up blood, weight loss, and bone pain. Diagnosis of this condition can be made chest X-ray, or CT scan as well as obtaining tissue samples through bronchoscopy. Treatment may include one chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy.
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6. Congestive Heart Failure
Basically, congestive heart failure represents the inability of the heart to pump a sufficient quantity of blood to help the adequate functioning of your body. It can be chronic (long-lived) or acute (short-lived). The coronary artery disease is the most common reason of congestive heart failure. The coronary artery disease is caused by the hardening and narrowing of arteries that provide blood to heart muscle. Heart attacks, damaged heart valves, high blood pressure, lung disease, abnormal heart rhythms, and diabetes are also other causes of congestive heart failure.
Shortness of breath, swelling in your lower extremities, fatigue, cough, sudden weight gain, chest pain, and rapid heartbeat are the main symptoms of congestive heart failure. Diagnosis of congestive heart failure may be made using an echocardiogram. Congestive heart failure can be curbed adequately with surgery, medications or medical devices if needed.
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7. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
This is also one of the main shortness of breath causes. Generalized anxiety disorder is one psychiatric condition characterized by ongoing, excessive worry or anxiety that related to activities of daily living. This condition often develops slowly. Plus, levels of worry or anxiety may fluctuate. Stress can also make the course of this condition worst. Risk factors for generalized anxiety disorder may be a family history of generalized anxiety disorder, a shy personality, and female gender. Excessive worry, irritability, fatigue, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea are the major symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Diagnosis of this condition may be made with DSM-5 (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5th Edition). You can use anti-anxiety medications as well as psychotherapy to manage this condition.
One of the shortness of breath causes is anemia. A normal red blood cells deficiency in the blood is called anemia. The causes of red blood cells deficiency include bleeding, increased destruction or decreased production. Carrying oxygen to the tissues and cells of the body is the red blood cell function. The effects of anemia can mild to severe. It can last temporary to long term. The most common anemia type is iron deficiency anemia. Shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, chest pain, and pale skin are the main symptoms of anemia. Some people with this disease have unusual cravings to consume ice, clay or dirt. Diagnosis for anemia may be made with simple blood tests. Many various causes leading to anemia include malnutrition, bleeding, iron deficiency, genetic disorders, and kidney disease. Anemia can treat, but if left untreated, can be fatal.
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Sarcoidosis refers to the growth of clusters of inflammatory cells or granulomas, in different organs of the body. Sarcoidosis mainly affects the lungs. No one can know the exact cause of this disease. Risk factors of sarcoidosis include African-American descent, female gender, and a family history of sarcoidosis. Cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes, weight loss, chest pain, vision loss, and seizures are the utmost symptoms of sarcoidosis. Diagnosis of this condition may be made with blood tests, CT scan, chest X-ray, and biopsy (one sample of tissue) in order to identify granulomas. There’s no cure for sarcoidosis. Medications can manage this condition effectively.
Tuberculosis is also considered as one of the top shortness of breath causes. Tuberculosis mainly affects your lungs. The bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the causative agent. The bacteria are transmitted from a person to another via tiny droplets delivered into the air through sneezing and coughing. Besides affecting the lungs, tuberculosis may affect other organs including the brain, spine, or kidneys. Individuals with inactive or latent, tuberculosis don’t have symptoms. People with active tuberculosis may experience symptoms including fatigue, fever, shortness of breath, night sweats, coughing up blood, and weight loss. If one individual has been exposed to tuberculosis, one simple skin test may be carried out to determine. If individuals have active tuberculosis, the chest X-ray may be made to determine. Individuals with active tuberculosis are treated using multiple antibiotics for twelve or more months. Individuals with inactive or latent, tuberculosis are treated using an antibiotic for nine months.
Pleurisy is referred to as pleuritis. Infections, cancers, pulmonary embolism, congestive heart failure, certain drugs, autoimmune diseases (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), and pneumothorax are the cause of pleurisy. Sharp chest pain is the leading symptom of pleurisy. Shortness of breath, fever, back or shoulder pain, and cough are other symptoms of pleurisy. Diagnosis of pleurisy may be made with CT scan, chest X-ray, or ultrasound as well. The treatment of pleurisy is concentrated on the underlying cause.
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12. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Last but not least, the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is also known as the main shortness of breath cause. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is one progressive lung disease making it difficult to get the air out and in of the lungs. The principal cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is cigarette smoking. The disease includes two main diagnoses—chronic and emphysema bronchitis. Symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may contain cough with large amounts of chest tightness, mucus, shortness of breath, fatigue, wheezing, and weight loss. Diagnosis of the disease may be made with chest X-ray, plus arterial blood gas analysis. There’s no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The symptoms may be efficiently managed via medications and smoking cessation. It may be candidates for surgery for individuals with the serious disease to reduce lung transplantation or lung volume.
Learn more: 10 Natural Solutions For COPD Disease
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The proper treatment will rely on the cause. We cannot go into all the cures for these conditions here. But if you want to understand more you should consult your doctor or nurse. They will answer you all the questions associated with this condition. You can share with us the other shortness of breath causes in the comments section.