Shortness of breath: A common reason for calling the doctor

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Know when difficulty breathing is an emergency.

Shortness of breath can occur after climbing stairs or running after a child. It can be caused by anxiety. And it can also be evidence of a serious heart or lung condition. That's the problem: when is shortness of breath the sign of a serious problem?

"If you have a serious illness and delay getting care, the consequences can be life-threatening. That's why you should call your doctor," says Dr. Lee, who advises against sending an email that might not be read for hours.

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