What Is Shortness of Breath?
Shortness of breath is a condition also called Dyspnea. It is characterized by chest tightness and an inability to take deep breaths. Typically, shortness of breath occurs as a symptom of various things. Therefore, it can point to a severe health condition or a temporary physical change. Shortness of breath can be a severe problem if it prolongs since it prevents air from getting into your lungs properly.
What Causes Shortness of Breath?
Various factors can cause shortness of breath. Hardly is shortness of breath a problem on its own. Usually, there is an underlying issue deterring your ability to breathe properly. Since healthy breathing largely depends on your lungs and heart, complications affecting these organs lead to shortness of breath. Some of the common ones are:
- Intense physical activity like running
- Allergies – an allergic reaction will often lead to shortness of breath
- Anxiety disorders like panic attacks
- Heart failure
- Lung and respiratory problems such as lung cancer, prolonged smoking, bronchitis, pneumonia, COVID-19, or a blood clot in your lungs
- Being overweight or obese
- Chocking – shortness of breath after eating can be due to an obstruction on your throat preventing air from flowing in and out.
- Traumatic injuries – like a broken rib
- Extreme hot or cold temperatures and unfriendly environmental factors – examples include being at high altitudes, poor air quality, and smoke.
When Should You Seek Emergency Dental Care for Shortness of Breath?
Generally, visit an emergency doctor immediately if you are worried about your inability to breathe properly. Some factors that indicate a severe underlying problem that necessitates emergency room treatment for shortness of breath are:
- Shortness of breath when lying down
- Pain or pressure in your chest
- Irregular heartbeat
- Fainting and loss of consciousness
- Elevated body temperatures
- A high-pitched sound when you breathe – is also called Stridor.
- Whistling or a wheezing sound when you inhale and exhale
- Blue lips or fingertips
- Swollen ankles or feet
What Are the Treatments for Shortness of Breath?
There isn’t one treatment that fits all cases of Dyspnea. Therefore, you must visit us at Memorial Heights Emergency Center to determine the appropriate treatment protocol for your shortness of breath. For example, shortness of breath comes and goes cannot be treated the same way as sudden or persistent Dyspnea. Some of the treatment options to tackle shortness of breath are:
- Medication – doctors prescribe different medicines. Examples include antihistamines for allergies, steroids for inflamed lungs, antidepressants for anxiety, or bronchodilators for asthmatic attacks.
- Oxygen therapy – during heatwaves, patients benefit a lot from oxygen therapy.
- Weight loss programs – for overweight and obese patients.
- Physical activity – for patients with unhealthy lifestyles.
- Surgery – severe causes of shortness of breath, like blood clots in the lungs require surgery.
Other Ways to Manage and Prevent Shortness of Breath
When experiencing shortness of breath at home, you must manage it before getting to a doctor. Your ability to manage your breathing can make a difference before you get to an urgent care facility near you. Besides, sometimes shortness of breath is temporary, without a particular underlying condition to worry you. Therefore, your primary goal should be to identify and eliminate triggers that can cause shortness of breath. Some tips to control your breathing and prevent shortness of breath at home are:
- Quit smoking and avoid being a second-hand smoker as much as possible.
- Get an inhaler if you are asthmatic.
- Avoid allergens and pollutants that can trigger allergic reactions.
- Eat a balanced diet to maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid strenuous physical activity or over-exerting yourself – if you must exercise, avoid doing so in hot weather or high altitudes.
- Get regular medical checkups to identify any anomalies as early as possible.
- Inhaling steam – may improve airflow through your nose. If you have congestion, this remedy works well to improve your breathing.
- Stick to your prescribed treatment plans to avoid side effects.