Alternative Names: Dyspnea
Shortness of breath is a frightening feeling of "air hunger" or suffocation brought on by not being able to get enough air.
A person may experience shortness of breath even though oxygen levels are within a normal range.
It is natural for a healthy person to become short of breath from strenuous exercise, extreme temperature, or high altitude. There are also many medical causes of shortness of breath, most of which are related to the heart and lungs which form the cardiopulmonary system. Causes of acute shortness of breath include:
Causes of long-term (chronic) shortness of breath include:
Breathing difficulty can be described as
Diagnosing shortness of breath involves identifying the underlying cause. Since there are many possible causes, the first step is a review of the patient's medical history, and a physical examination.
Prevention includes smoking cessation, pollutant/particulate avoidance, losing weight, treating existing medical conditions, and avoiding exertion at high altitude.
It is important to tell your doctor right away about sudden, severe or worsening shortness of breath. In an emergency situation, shortness of breath is often accompanied by chest pain, fainting or nausea.
Thin people in general have less difficulty breathing. If they exercise regularly, they don't breathe hard even during physical activity. Having less fat inside their bodies allows for free expansion of the rib cage and leaves space for the diaphragm to move downward as it should during breathing. The lungs are also clear of fat, which allows more efficient exchange of oxygen. Almost 70% of bodily waste products are removed in the form of carbon dioxide.
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