Dyspnea



What is dyspnea?

Patients who experience dyspnea describe it in different ways. Some say they have difficulty getting a deep breath or that the air the breath is not enough. Others say they feel a tightness on the chest or a need to make an extreme effort to breathe. Shortness of breath may start suddenly, within minutes or hours. It may also have a smooth installation, over weeks or months.

What are the causes of dyspnea?

Various conditions can cause shortness of breath.

The most common causes of acute – sudden shortness of breath are:

  • Lung problems such as asthma, infections, bronchitis, pulmonary embolism. These situations may also cause other symptoms, eg pulmonary infection may be accompanied by fever and cough.
  • Heart problems such as heart attack or heart failure. A heart attack can also be accompanied by pain or heaviness in the chest. Heart failure occurs when the heart can not send as much blood needs in the various organs.
  • Severe allergic reaction (called “anaphylaxis”). It may be accompanied by itching and rashes.
  • Pregnancy. It may be a normal pregnant have dyskoleia breathing, usually when tired or lying supine.

The most common causes of shortness of breath that happens over weeks to months are:

  • Obesity and lack of fitness.

Do I need to contact my doctor?

Yes. If you suffer from shortness of breath especially if accompanied by chest pain or nausea, you may need to go to hospital. If you experience these symptoms the situation may be serious.

Will I need to have any tests?

Probably. Your doctor will ask you some questions and examine you clinically. Depending on the findings, you he may ask for some of the following:

  • Haematology tests
  • Chest xray
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) for recording the electrical activity of the heart.
  • Spirometry

How is dyspnea treated?

Depending on the underlying cause, there are various ways of treatment. If your doctor diagnose the etiology of the problem, he will discuss with you the various treatment options.

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