Shortness of Breath in Adults

Welcome to our Health Decision Guide on Shortness of Breath.

By answering a short series of questions, you will learn about the possible reasons why you have recently developed mild to moderate shortness of breath.

Severe shortness of breath and shortness of breath accompanied by certain symptoms requires immediate medical attention. If you have one or more of the following symptoms, it is a medical emergency:

  • severe shortness of breath

  • difficulty talking in full sentences

  • chest pain with shortness of breath

  • swelling in the face or abdomen with shortness of breath (a possible allergic reaction).

Do you have any of the symptoms listed above?

Yes, I have one or more of these symptoms.

No, I don't have any of these symptoms.

That's good. However, even if your symptoms are not severe, difficulty getting air in or out of the lungs is a symptom that always requires evaluation by your doctor.

Now you are ready to start the guide.

Click here to begin.

The sensation of not getting enough air can be caused by a variety of conditions including

  • anxiety and panic disorder

  • obstruction to airflow in the bronchial tubes, such as asthma or bronchitis

  • a process that fills up air sacs in the lungs, such as pneumonia

  • fluid in or around the lungs

  • impaired movement of blood through the lungs so less oxygen gets picked up (for example, blood clots in the lungs)

  • a low red blood cell count (anemia) with low hemoglobin levels that can't carry enough oxygen to the body

  • a weak diaphragm and weak chest wall muscles that won't pull enough air into the lungs (muscle or nerve diseases).

Let's first address whether you have symptoms of an infection, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Click here to continue.

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