Shortness Of Breath / Breathing Difficulty

What Causes Breathing Difficulty When Not Active?

Breathing difficulty when not active can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'troubling' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose breathing difficulty when not active, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "breathing difficulty when not active" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Magnesium Toxicity
  • Aspartame/Neotame Side-Effects
  • Pulmonary Embolism
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Ascites
  • Pneumonia

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
severe emotional instability
past marijuana use
chronic nausea
somewhat disturbed sleep
hoarse voice
frequent confusion/disorientation
slight abdominal fullness
coffee consumption
panic attacks
frequent nightmares
numb/burning/tingling extremities
occasional unexplained fevers
... and more than 90 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of breathing difficulty when not active:
Cause Probability Status
Pulmonary Embolism 93% Confirm
Ascites 25% Unlikely
Pneumonia 15% Unlikely
Ovarian Cancer 5% Ruled out
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 1% Ruled out
Aspartame/Neotame Side-Effects 1% Ruled out
Sarcoidosis 1% Ruled out
Magnesium Toxicity 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having breathing problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
If you ever experience shortness of breath when you are not physically active, how would you describe it?
Possible responses:
→ I am never breathless when at rest / don't know
→ Occasional/mild breathlessness, not a big problem
→ Regular/moderate breathlessness, quite worrying
→ Serious sudden shortness of breath, very worrying
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either shortness of breath when at rest or sudden shortness of breath, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Ascites

Shortness of breath can occur with large ascites that causes pressure on the diaphragm and fluid around the lungs.

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure leads to reduced blood supply to the kidneys, which leads in turn reduced kidney function, and in turn excess fluid retention (edema).  The lungs may become congested with fluid (pulmonary edema) and thus the ability to exercise is decreased.

Pulmonary Embolism

The most important symptom of pulmonary embolism is breathlessness, which often occurs suddenly and for which there is no other explanation.

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