Shortness of breath or wheezing

Shortness of breath (or wheezing breathing) is a symptom of the disease and can be caused by various reasons, for example:

If a person is short of breath, he thinks he does not get enough air and may have a feeling of:

  • Asphyxiation
  • Chest tightness.

This symptom is also called dyspnea and causes an unpleasant and annoying feeling.

Shortness of breath can be caused by:

Sometimes the signs and symptoms are not so obvious and measurable, but the person feels them himself.
Sometimes shortness of breath and acute chest pain are the symptom of a heart attack.

This disorder affects not only the elderly, but can also occur in:

  • Children
  • Young people.


Causes of shortness of breath

In most cases, shortness of breath is caused by lung or heart disease.

Heart problems

Lung problems

  • Asthma
  • Injuries to the lungs, neck or chest (for example, rib fracture)
  • Scar tissue formation in the lungs after an accident, lung collapse (or pneumothorax) due to traumalung cancer, metastases
  • Lung diseases or respiratory infections such as pneumonia, chronic bronchitis or emphysema caused by smoking
  • Pleural effusion, or fluid accumulation in the lungs due to a tumor or infection
  • Pulmonary embolism or blood coagel (embolus) in the lungs
  • Very low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Pulmonary fibrosis or lung damage caused by radiation or chemotherapy
  • Bacterial or viral upper respiratory tract infection

Other causes of shortness of breath

  • Asphyxia (or suffocation) due to smoke inhalation
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Reaction to certain medicines such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, ketoprofen, etc.) and ACE inhibitors (for high blood pressure))
  • Anaphylactic shock

Concomitant symptoms of shortness
of breath

Difficulty breathing and the feeling of suffocation are the typical symptoms of dyspnea. The individual may also have other symptoms depending on the underlying cause.

Thoracic pain. Chest pain may occur in the case of:

  • Heart problems
  • Intercostal neuralgia (back pain radiating along the ribs)
  • Lung problems
  • Panic attack

Symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath are also felt during heart attacks (heart attack).

Usually dyspnea worsens:

  • during the night,
  • while lying down.

SweatingSweating and difficulty breathing may occur with:

  • Heart attack
  • Panic attack
  • Asthma attack

Nasal congestion. Nasal congestion can also interfere with normal breathing. Shortness of breath and nasal congestion are also caused by:

Some patients with nasal congestion may also experience fever, for example in the case of flu.

Headache. Difficulty breathing may also be accompanied by severe headaches in the case of:

  • allergic rhinitis
  • Sinusitis

Nausea and vomiting. Some foods can cause allergic reactions.
A severe allergic reaction can lead to:

Fear. Anxiety can also cause shortness of breath along with:

Shortness of breath during pregnancy

Mild breathing difficulties during pregnancy are normal.

  • Progesterone is a hormone that is released during pregnancy and leads to faster breathing.
  • The increase in the size of the child can increase the pressure on the diaphragm, which is the most important respiratory muscle.

In case of sudden and severe breathing difficulties, the doctor must be notified immediately.

Shortness of breath in infants

The infant can also get shortness of breath without a disease.

The breathing of a newborn is different from that of an adult, so there is no need to worry about the following cases:

  • Rapid breathing: The lungs of the newborn are much smaller than those of an adult, so the respiratory rate is higher; it ranges from 45 breaths per minute to 70-80 during exertion when awake.
  • Irregular breathing: The newborn’s respiratory system is developing, so the breathing rhythm may be irregular.
  • Noisy breathing: The nostrils of the newborn are very small, mucus can interfere with breathing and cause loud breathing sounds.

There is cause for concern if the infant has other symptoms, such as:

  • Cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin)
  • Cough
  • Fever

It is better to contact a pediatrician, because there could be a disorder of the respiratory organs, such as bronchiolitis.

Shortness of breath during the night

Those who wake up breathless at night may have other symptoms, such as:

  • severe wheezing,
  • cough,
  • Feeling of suffocation.

These are sequelae of diseases such as:

  1. Heart failure
  2. sleep apnea,
  3. Overweight and inactivity.

Types of nocturnal shortness of breath

Hypopnea hypopnea
means that a person does not stop breathing completely, but breathes superficially and thus does not have an adequate supply of oxygen.

Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea occurs when the patient temporarily stops breathing at night; these breathing interruptions can last from 10 seconds to 3 minutes.

A person suffering from hypopnea or sleep apnea:

  • usually snores during sleep,
  • feels tired, even if he has slept long enough.

The causes of hypopnea and apnea include:

  1. Anatomical defects of the nasal or respiratory tract
  2. Overweight
  3. Diseases of the respiratory system
  4. Taking sedatives
  5. Alcohol abuse
  6. Smoke
  7. Age

This is a disorder in which a person feels out of breath when lying in bed. The affected person must sit down to experience relief and to be able to breathe normally again.

Often this indicates heart disease, especially in the left ventricular area.
Orthopnea can also be caused by:

  • Asthma
  • Pulmonary emphysema
  • Bronchitis
  • Panic attack

Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea
This condition is a severe form of nocturnal dyspnea.
It is the symptom of heart disease: left heart failure also called asthma cardiale.
The patient suddenly wakes up after a few hours of sleep with:

Difficulty breathing deeply

Anyone who suffers from an allergy to mold (fungi) has difficulty breathing deeply after coming into contact with mold.
Those who have asthma may observe an exacerbation of symptoms due to mold exposure.
If the mold spores get into the lungs, they can block the airways.

Inflammation and narrowing of the airways can lead to an air barrier.
A human being can:

  • coughing continuously,
  • with deep breathing feel pain in the chest.

The situation can get worse at night and the person wakes up more often.
Shortness of breath can cause sleep disturbances.
Sinusitis can cause nocturnal breathing problems.

Other causes of difficulty breathing deeply include:

  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Nasal congestion
  • Lack of oxygen in the brain at high altitudes
  • Lock in mouth or throat
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (especially in the elderly)
  • Pneumonia (pulmonitis)
  • Infarct
  • Compensated heart failure
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Trauma to the neck (for example, whiplash), chest or lungs (pneumothorax))
  • Narrowing of the trachea
  • Poisoning by carbon monoxide
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Parkinson’s disease

If the surrounding air contains a lot of dust, it can lead to difficulties in nasal breathing.
Lack of exercise and obesity can lead to shortness of breath.
Shortness of breath may occur:

  • during a panic attack,
  • when climbing a mountain,
  • during a sports training.

Shortness of breath after eating

Breathing difficulties after eating can be caused by:

  1. Acid reflux (in asthmatics)
  2. Allergy
  3. Food poisoning

In the case of back pain during deep breathing, the cause is the change in posture, because the lower spinal section is stretched.
This movement may be hampered by:

  • Tension of the diaphragm and lumbar iliac muscle
  • Vertebral joint blockage
  • Ankylosing spondylitis (chronic inflammatory disease of the joints of the spine and trunk)

Diagnostics and examination

For diagnosis, the analysis of the patient’s medical history and an examination are required.
The following examinations may be carried out:

► X-ray horax image

► Blood test with complete blood count

► CT

► Electrocardiogram

► Pulse oximetry: measures the oxygen saturation of the blood

► Pulmonary function test

Natural remedies for shortness of breath

Weight loss
In order to avoid problems with the respiratory system / circulation, you should maintain a correct body weight.

Correct blood values
One should:

  • control blood pressure and blood sugar,
  • lower elevated cholesterol through exercise exercises and a balanced diet.

People who suffer from asthma should avoid:

  • very cold air
  • excessive physical exertion
  • Contact with allergens
  • Infections

Cigarettes and alcohol
Excessive cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption can harm lung and heart health.
You should stop smoking and not drink too much alcohol.

Diet and nutrition for shortness
of breath A healthy diet low in saturated and hydrogenated fats prevents diseases and disorders.

It should not be forgotten that the body breaks down food into simple molecules (amino acids, sugars, etc.) and uses them to form the necessary complex molecules (proteins, fats, etc.).
The level of cholesterol in the blood does not depend on the amount of fat consumed, on the contrary: the foods that cause these excessive levels are mainly those rich in carbohydrates, such as cereals (bread, pizza, spaghetti, rice, etc.).

Our organism:

  • breaks down the carbohydrates into simple sugars,
  • accumulates these substances until cholesterol is formed.

A high-fiber (fruits and vegetables) diet helps maintain heart health.

Anxiety and stress management
The doctor can prescribe anti-anxiety medication, but you should also learn some relaxation exercises such as yoga and meditation, as they help to reduce stress.

Regular sports and some breathing exercises (for example, pranayama) serve to keep the heart and lungs healthy.

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