Breathing difficulty - Overview
Shortness of breath; Breathlessness; Difficulty breathing; Dyspnea
Definition of Breathing difficulty:
Breathing difficulty involves a sensation of difficult or uncomfortable breathing or a feeling of not getting enough air.
See also: Difficulty breathing - first aid
No standard definition exists for difficulty breathing. Some people may feel breathless with only mild exercise (for example, climbing stairs), even though they do not have a medical condition. Others may have advanced lung disease but never feel short of breath.
Wheezing is one form of breathing difficulty in which you make a high-pitched sound when you breathe out.
Click here to see a video about wheezing.
Shortness of breath has many different causes:
- A blockage of the air passages in your nose, mouth, or throat may lead to difficulty breathing.
- Heart disease can cause breathlessness if your heart is unable to pump enough blood to supply oxygen to your body. If your brain, muscles, or other body organs do not receive enough oxygen, a sense of breathlessness may occur.
- Lung disease can cause breathlessness.
- Sometimes emotional distress, such as anxiety, can lead to difficulty breathing.
The following problems may cause breathing difficulty:
Problems with the lungs:
Problems with the airways leading to the lungs:
Problems with the heart:
- Reviewed last on: 5/25/2011
- David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Schwartzstein RM, Adams L. Dyspnea. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 28.
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