How Easily You Become Short Of Breath

What Causes Shortness Of Breath?

Shortness of breath can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'needs attention' 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 shortness of breath, 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 "shortness of breath" as a symptom.  Here are seven possibilities:
  • Vitamin B12 Need
  • Anemia
  • Mitral Valve Prolapse
  • Asthma
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Myocarditis

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:
PPI antacid use
asthma
recent onset nausea
scrotal edema
past H2-blocker antacid use
COPD
having a slight fever
difficulty breathing in cold weather
some vitamin B12 supplementation
slightly impaired ability to walk
edema of the feet
reduced mental clarity
... and more than 60 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of shortness of breath:
Cause Probability Status
Mitral Valve Prolapse 96% Confirm
Myocarditis 26% Unlikely
Anemia 13% Unlikely
Congestive Heart Failure 5% Ruled out
Asthma 2% Ruled out
Chronic Bronchitis 0% Ruled out
Vitamin B12 Need 0% 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.

In the Respiratory Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about how easily you become short of breath:
How easily do you become short of breath?
Possible responses:
→ Never / don't know
→ Only with great exertion, for example running fast
→ With moderate exertion such as jogging
→ Even with mild activity, such as walking
→ Very easily - even when I am not active
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate breathlessness from great exertion, breathlessness from medium exertion, easily becoming short of breath or being short of breath when inactive, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
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