When Shortness of Breath is a Matter of Serious Concern?


Before discussing when breathlessness becomes a warning signal, let’s start by understanding what it is and what problems are generally faced by a patient. The common complaint is extreme difficulty in breathing normally or simply struggling hard to breathe. Just like fatigue, abdominal pain and dizziness, there are certain causes of breathlessness. You need to consult a doctor immediately if you are short of breath and experience troublesome symptoms such as chest pain, unusual fatigue or facing difficulty in standing upright.

So, What Are the Causes of Shortness of Breath?

For some people, gasping may be normal, i.e. when a person works out for a while. And, if you have not been exercising for some time! Here are some of the common causes of troubled breathing:

  • Obesity
  • Chest pain
  • Heart ailments
  • Anxiety
  • Smoking
  • Poor respiratory habits
  • Weak breathing muscles

So, if you are gasping for breath due to anxiety or obesity, you can overcome the problem by consulting a physician or exercising to shed off your excess flab. However, if you are breathless along with chest pain, then there is reason to worry. In such a situation, you need to get in touch with a cardiologist who can give you the right advice to alleviate the problem and prevent complications.

Some Warning Signs of Serious Breathlessness 

It’s okay for people who find an easy solution for the problem. This means that their difficulty in breathing is harmless and not fatal. However, there are more threatening causes of breathing concerns. In such situations, it’s always recommended that you consult your doctor without any delay. If the concern is not that serious, then it may be due to the possibility of weak breathing muscles or muscle knots.

Then, What Are Those Warning Signs?

You would need immediate medical attention if you feel short of breath along with the following symptoms:

  • Do you feel extremely tired most of the time? And, at the same time, you look weak and pale. If both of these symptoms are present, it’s a red flag.
  • You suffer from chronic cough or wheeze.
  • You ankles and feet swell and you have difficulty in breathing when lying down.
  • You suffer from painful, dry cough, and your breathlessness aggravate with activity.
  • Excessive sweating

Any of the above mentioned symptoms are warning signs and associated with a gradual and sneaky beginning of a far more serious condition such as a heart attack.

When Should You Call a Doctor?

There are people who regard breathlessness as a minor health concern. This is not so and you should call your doctor when having:

  • Chest pain and discomfort
  • Troubles sleep¬†
  • Shortness of breath even when resting or performing any mild activity
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Tightness in your throat or a croupy cough

So, How It Can Be Treated? 

In cases, where the symptoms are serious and you feel excruciating chest pain along with rapid breathing, you need to consult an experienced cardiac specialist treating shortness of breath. Many a times, a pulmonary function testing may be required to ascertain the condition of your lungs. After diagnosis and tests, if it’s found that you have heart problems, you need to quit smoking and follow a healthy diet free of cholesterol and fat along with relevant treatment.