Shortness of breath or dyspnea is a condition that leaves you breathless after a period of exercise or fatigue. This is caused due to obstruction of mouth, nose of throat pathways. Shortness of breath could be an indication of various diseases and serious disorders, and should be properly investigated. Some of the reasons for shortness of breath include lung and heart diseases and those caused by stress and anxiety and unhealthy lifestyles.
Acute shortness of breath maybe caused due to presence of a foreign object blocking the airways, swelling of lungs due to infection, hemorrhage or conditions related to asthma. Other cardiovascular diseases such as congenital heart failure, coronary artery diseases, myocardial infarction, arrhythmias could also be responsible for acute dyspnea. Injuries that cause the lung to collapse and obstruct air ducts contribute towards dyspnea too. Lastly, stress and panic attacks are also known to cause dyspnea.
Chronic shortness of breath is generally attributed heart and pulmonary diseases, neuromuscular disorders and thyroid problems. Heart diseases cause reduced blood flow to heart muscles and leads to chronic dyspnea. A tumor in the heart can also cause this condition.
The other reasons for chronic shortness of breath include COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, bronchitis, tumor, and hypertension. Neuromuscular conditions such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy are reasons why the chest muscles deteriorate over time leading to shortness of breath.
Health issues such as obesity, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and anemia can lead to lack of energy and shortness of breath especially after vigorous exercise. Shortness of breath my also be accompanied by headaches and dizziness, and usually gets worse with activity. Smoking aggravates this condition and should be completely avoided.
Whatever the reason, shortness of breath is a debilitating condition and should be taken seriously. If the reasons are short-lived or are caused by lack of exercise, it can be rectified by healthy changes in your lifestyle. It is vital to pinpoint the reason for shortness of breath. This is indicative of a serious condition and can impair normal day to day activities unless treated. Tests that determine pulmonary function, chest X-ray, CT scan, echocardiogram may all be done to test the damage.
The common symptoms of shortness of breath include the victim turning blue in the face, unable to speak, difficulty in breathing, dizziness, weakness and wheezing. Such patients require immediate medical attention. Make sure the victims are comfortable seated, relaxed and using first aid till medial help arrives.