For many, shortness of breath is not something to worry about. But, in some cases, it could signal a serious underlying condition that requires immediate medical attention. In this article, we’ll look at what shortness of breath is, its causes and symptoms, and how you can treat it.
What is shortness of breath?
Also referred to as dyspnea, shortness of breath is an intense feeling of suffocation, tightness in the chest, air hunger, or difficulty breathing. It usually affects breathing passages, lungs, heart, or blood vessels and can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Shortness of breath symptoms
The most common signs of shortness of breath include:
- Chest tightness
- Chest pain
- Laboured breathing
However, dizziness, anxiousness, fainting, fatigue, and heart palpitations can also be a sign of breathlessness.
As a general rule of thumb, if your chest feels heavy, you’re struggling to breathe and you have pains that spread to your arms, back, neck, and jaw, call 999 immediately. You could be having a heart attack or a problem with your airway or lungs.
Alternatively, if you have shortness of breath that has lasted longer than a month or that gets worse when you lay down or when you’re active, book a consultation with a private cardiologist as soon as possible. They can run tests to make sure it’s nothing severe or they can treat you properly if it’s life-threatening.
Shortness of breath causes
Many conditions can cause shortness of breath, but the most common include:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Respiratory infections such as pneumonia
- Collapsed lung
- Anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction
Lifestyle habits such as smoking and obesity can also cause shortness of breath. That’s why experts recommend adopting healthy living habits to reduce the risk of dyspnea significantly.
Certain lung problems can also make it harder to get enough air. This includes lung cancer, tuberculosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and pulmonary oedema.
Shortness of breath treatment
The treatment for shortness of breath varies, depending on its cause. For instance, somebody with asthma cannot receive the same treatment as an individual with heart disease.
So, the best way to receive the right treatment is by visiting a reliable private cardiologist such as Dr. Georgios Karagiannis in London.
Only an expert can properly diagnose your condition and provide the required medical treatment. They can also identify any other heart conditions and treat them before they escalate further.
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