Dyspnea tachypnea and orthopnea

Dyspnea or shortness of breath is described as:

  • difficulty breathing,
  • Feeling of suffocation.

Depending on the cause, shortness of breath may occur only once or there may be recurrent episodes that can become constants.


Types of dyspnea

Shortness of breath may occur:

  • during exercise – when breathlessness occurs after a short, not particularly strenuous physical activity, for example after slowly climbing stairs.
  • at rest – when it occurs at night or while sitting. That is the more serious situation.

Causes of dyspnea

Most cases of shortness of breath are caused by diseases of:

  • Heart
  • Lungs.

The heart and lungs are involved:

  • supply the tissues with oxygen,
  • remove the carbon dioxide.

Problems with any of these procedures can affect breathing.
When lying down, the symptoms are aggravated.

Acute dyspnea

The shortness of breath is acute when it suddenly becomes noticeable. It can occur due to a blockage of the airways; possible reasons for this are:

  1. Allergic asthma
  2. Carbon monoxide poisoning
  3. Pulmonary embolism
  4. Pneumonia
  5. Pleural effusion
  6. Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea
  7. Pneumothorax due to a rib fracture
  8. Inflammation of the epithelium (epiglottitis)
  9. Aspiration of foreign bodies
  10. Pleurisy (pleurisy))
  11. Pulmonary edema

Cardiac dyspnea

Heart problems

  1. Heart muscle diseases (cardiomyopathy)
  2. Cardiac arrhythmia (arrhythmia)
  3. Acute heart and valvular heart failure
  4. Pericarditis (pericarditis))
  5. Heart attack

Other disorders that cause acute shortness of breath

  • Blood poisoning (sepsis)
  • Panic attack
  • Drug withdrawal symptoms
  • Thyrotoxicosis or thyrotoxic crisis (excess of thyroid hormones due to hyperthyroidism or medications for the thyroid gland)

Chronic dyspnea

shortness of breath is defined as chronic if breathlessness persists for at least a month; The following diseases may play a role:

  1. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – the mucus in the lungs blocks the airways and leads to air hunger
  2.  Lung tumor
  3. Pulmonary fibrosis
  4. Pulmonary hypertension
  5. Pulmonary emphysema
  6. Bronchial asthma
  7. Occupational lung diseases (asbestosis and silicosis)

Chronic cardiac dyspnea

  • Chronic cardiac decompensation
  • Heart failure due to chronic diseases of the heart valves

Other disorders that cause chronic shortness of breath

  1. Anemia (decreased number of red blood cells in the body)
  2. Generalized anxiety disorder
  3. Hypothyroidism or hypothyroidism (the thyroid gland produces fewer hormones)
  4. Guillain-Barré syndrome
  5. Myasthenia gravis
  6. High blood pressure (hypertension)
  7. Renal insufficiency with uremia
  8. Obesity (risk factor for exercise dyspnea)
  9. Exposure to irritants
  10. Cigarette
  11. Inhalation of chemicals
  12. Sarcoidosis
  13. Tuberculosis

Anxiety-related dyspnea

Anxiety and stress: A stressed or anxious person is unable to breathe deeply and completely.
The short breath passes again when the patient is no longer under stress.
The patient occasionally feels the need to take a deep breath during a quiet period with normal breaths.

Possible accompanying symptoms in case of shortness of breath

Respiratory problems

  1. Cough
  2. Rapid breathing
  3. Yellow, green or red sputum
  4. Sneeze
  5. Nasal congestion
  6. Asthma attacks

Pain and systhemic symptoms

  1. Chest pain
  2. Faint
  3. Sweats
  4. Unusual fatigue
  5. Pain radiating into the jaw or neck
  6. General malaise
  7. Chest tightness

Heart problems

  1. Rhythm disturbance
  2. Tachycardia)
  3. Palpitation

Shortness of breath due to allergies

Most allergies are caused by:

  • Dust particles
  • pollen in the air,
  • certain foods.

This disease leads to:

  • a distinct feeling of shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.

Nocturnal shortness of breath

Due to shortness of breath, people may wake up suddenly when the upper airways are partially blocked.

The person concerned:

  • sleeps badly,
  • feels tired during the day.

For easier breathing, the head should be elevated. Pillows under the head and shoulders are recommended.

Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (DNP): As a rule, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea occurs during sleep; by definition, after two hours of sleep, the patient suddenly wakes up with:

  • feeling of suffocation,
  • Shortness of breath
  • severe anxiety,
  • Cough.

Causes of DNP
The causes of nocturnal shortness of breath due to paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea are:

Heart failure: There may be congestion of the lungs, which means an increase in the amount of blood in the lungs.
People who suffer from heart failure are affected; the left half of the heart:

  • does not work properly,
  • can not pump enough blood into the body.

When the patient lies down, the blood flow to the heart increases, but the heart can not handle it.
As a result:

  • blood accumulates in the lungs,
  • increases the pressure in the lungs,
  • the gas exchange is inadequate.

This causes nocturnal dyspnea.

Lack of exercise: Inactivity causes this disease.
In people who do not move and sit all day:

  • fluids accumulate in the lower part of the body,
  • the legs swell, especially the ankles.

At night when lying down, the fluid runs to the lungs and accumulates there. In this case, the patient feels better when he sits up.

Sleep apnea: This condition is characterized by sudden bouts of shortness of breath during sleep.
These are usually caused by:

  • excessive relaxation of the neck muscles,
  • the obstruction of the airways.

The affected person makes a short-term breathing pause during sleep.
In milder cases, he does not necessarily have to wake up from this, but it can happen that he is awakened by the inability to breathe.
Possible accompanying symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Snore
  • Wheeze
  • Shortness of breath.

In the morning, the affected person suffers:

The reason for this is that the night did not bring sufficient rest.
It is a dangerous disease, the symptoms must be reported immediately to the doctor to prevent deterioration and other complications.

Possible causes of nocturnal breathing difficulties include:

  • Smoking cigarettes, which also causes difficulty with deep breathing
  • Lung diseases such as bronchitis or emphysema
  • Anxiety, panic attacks and stress (also cause ant tingling on the hands, dizziness, stomach pain and other symptoms). In this case, a person also feels shortness of breath when walking.
  • nasal congestion,
  • dry or productive cough (with mucus formation and catarrh),
  • Cold.

Shortness of breath and anxiety

An anxiety attack often involves difficulty breathing and other symptoms such as:

According to patient reports, symptoms often appear in the evening before falling asleep.
Gastrointestinal problems can also become noticeable, such as:

  1. Nausea
  2. Vomit
  3. Heartburn
  4. Stomach ache
  5. Constipation
  6. Diarrhoea

Causes of anxiety-related shortness of breath

Panic attack
In a panic attack, the strong fear thought is the main symptom.
Other symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath and shortness of breath,
  • Palpitation
  • trembling,
  • Nausea
  • tingling,
  • Fear of going crazy.

Panic attacks can last for several minutes or hours.

The persistent fear or paranoia about an object or situation can lead to an anxiety disorder.
Phobias can provoke:

  • accelerated breathing,
  • Shortness of breath.

If someone can’t see injuries with blood, it can affect and complicate medical care.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
This disorder is characterized by:

  • recurring thoughts,
  • obsessions,
  • Coercive acts (compulsive actions).

The obsessive and compulsive behaviors interfere with everyday life.

Post-traumatic stress disorder
This disorder is diagnosed when a person has experienced a traumatic event and remembers:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks,
  • causes hallucinations.

This is a serious disorder that can cause shortness of breath.

Breathlessness after eating

Reasons for dyspnea that occurs after meals include:

Excessive food intake
Overeating can cause the stomach to inflate and press against the diaphragm.
When breathing, the diaphragm must expand.
Since the correct expansion is not possible because of the full stomach, rapid and shallow breathing takes place.
This can lead to mild dyspnea.
If the shortness of breath occurs after a sumptuous dinner, there may be a digestive problem.

Spicy or fatty foods can cause this reaction because they are not easy to digest.
In addition, insufficient chewing can damage the health of the digestive tract and cause digestive problems.

Food allergies
Shortness of breath occurs when someone eats a food to which they are allergic.
During allergic reactions, various symptoms appear, including narrowing of the airways, which leads to dyspnea.

Gastroesophageal reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux refers to the reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus and larynx.
The result is irritation of the larynx and respiratory tract.
This leads to:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • burning sensation in the stomach, mouth and chest.

Dyspnea in children

Children often have difficulty breathing when viral infections are present.
Causes of shortness of breath in children and newborns include:

  1. Bronchiolitis (cough with shortness of breath)
  2. Viral bronchitis
  3. Pneumonia
  4. Pseudocroup
  5. Inflammation of the epithelium (epiglottitis)
  6. Lung abscess
  7. Asthma

What can be done? Treatment of shortness of breath

The treatment prescribed by the doctor depends on the cause.

The doctor may prescribe diuretics that help flush out the excess water from the body.

Mechanical ventilation
The doctor may prescribe Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) ventilation, which involves injecting air into the nose.
In this therapy, the pressure in the airways is increased and regular breathing is ensured.
The results are already evident in the first days of application.


The doctor may advise eating low in salt because sodium is one of the main causes of water retention in the body, which can cause shortness of breath during sleep.

According to natural medicine, there are various foods that can cause diseases that are responsible for shortness of breath, for example:

  • milk and dairy products,
  • gluten-containing Cereal
  • Sweets,
  • stimulating drinks such as coffee and tea,
  • fried foods,
  • Meat – especially pork should be reduced.

In addition, no food may be consumed in excess, this also applies to harmless foods such as juicy fruit and nuts.

Reducing body weight is probably the most effective treatment in the long term; Results are evident with a weight loss of 10-15%.

Natural remedies for dyspnea

For anxiety-related shortness of breath, herbal teas can help from:

  • Valerian
  • Linden blossoms
  • Melissa
  • Mallow
  • Hawthorn

Physical exercise and healthy lifestyle
Regular physical exercise is essential.
You can start with walks or go by bike.
It is important to quit smoking.

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