Shortness of Breath:12 Common Causes with Treatment

Shortness of breath is also called dyspnea. It is a sensation when you start to feel like you cannot get enough air into your lungs, no matter how hard you try. This feeling could be short-lived or last for some time. In most cases, shortness of breath usually comes from exercise, stress, or asthma. However, it may also be a sign of many medical conditions. The sensation can be triggered by anxiety, overexertion, and respiratory ailments.

As with any medical condition, it is best to consult your doctor before trying home remedies for shortness of breath. However, if the disease is mild and temporary, several natural approaches may help relieve your symptoms. In addition, knowing what causes your shortness of breath can help you feel more at ease and get the treatment you need. This article will discuss shortness of breath symptoms, causes, and some best home remedies.

Shortness of Breath
Shortness of Breath: symptoms, causes, and treatment

Symptoms of Shortness of Breath

Some symptoms of shortness of breath include:

  • Feeling like you can’t get enough air into your lungs
  • Feeling like you are breathing at a faster pace than normal
  • Increased heart rate
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Breathing is noisy, with a wheeze
  • Increased chest pain
  • Feeling lightheaded or faint

10 Common Causes of Shortness of Breath

1. Lung problems

COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a lung disease that makes it hard for you to breathe. It makes you feel short of breath, wheezy, and out of breath even when resting.

Pneumonia is an infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi that infects the lungs. When you have a lung infection, it makes it harder for you to breathe, and you may cough up mucus from your lungs.

2. Asthma

If you have an asthma attack, your airways swell and narrow, making it harder for you to breathe. You may also feel short of breath. This condition can be triggered by exercise, cold weather, or allergens.

Exercise-induced asthma is when you experience shortness of breath due to exercising. When you exercise, your muscles produce lactic acid. This triggers your airways to swell, which makes it harder for you to breathe.

3. Heart problems

Heart arrhythmia: Arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rate. If your heart rate is too fast, it can be hard for your heart to pump blood. You may feel short of breath when your heart doesn’t pump enough blood.

Coronary artery disease (CAD): CAD occurs when plaque builds up in your arteries and hardens. It can make it harder for your heart to pump blood, especially when exercising.

4. Anxiety, panic, or severe stress

Anxiety: If you have anxiety, you may notice that it causes you to take deep breaths and put extra pressure on your lungs.

Panic attack: A panic attack is when you feel like something terrible is happening to you, even though it’s not. When your panic attack, you may feel like you can’t get enough air, even if you’re breathing normally.

Stress-induced anaphylaxis: Stress can trigger anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. When stressed, your body releases chemicals that increase your blood pressure and cause your heart to beat faster.

5. Obesity

Obesity can increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes and cause shortness of breath. When you have excess weight in your body, it makes it harder for your lungs to expand and contract.

6. Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction. An allergic reaction causes your blood vessels to swell, making it harder for your body to get enough oxygen.

7. Excess physical activity

When you exercise, your muscles produce lactic acid. This triggers your airways to swell, which makes it harder for you to breathe. Excessive physical activity includes trouble catching your breath, feeling lightheaded or chest pain during or after training, sweating excessively during exercise or work when it’s not expected, and pain in your muscles that comes on during or after a workout.

8. Dehydration

Constantly feeling the need to take deep breaths can result from dehydration. When you don’t get enough water in your system, it can increase carbon dioxide. Too much CO2 in your system causes your blood vessels to narrow, making it harder for your body to get enough oxygen. This causes you to feel like you’re taking short, deep breaths.

9. Hyperventilation

Hyperventilation is when you take quick, deep breaths. It can cause you to feel short of breath because you’re taking in too much oxygen and not enough CO2.

10. COVID-19

COVID-19 is an infection caused by the coronavirus. It can range from mild flu to more severe pneumonia. COVID-19 can cause headaches, high fever, muscle pain, and shortness of breath. In addition, some people may suffer from loss of taste or smell and dry cough, especially older people.

11. Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body undergoes many changes, including increased blood volume. This is a positive change but can also cause shortness of breath in some pregnant women. This is not a cause for concern but a normal part of pregnancy. It can usually be alleviated by sitting in a reclined position with your feet elevated.

12. Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea

Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (PND) is a sudden, often terrifying, episode of difficulty breathing that occurs while sleeping. PND is most common in adults between the ages of 40 and 60. It is often triggered by respiratory illnesses like the common cold or the flu.

PND is a medical emergency and should be treated as such. You should always see a doctor if you experience this symptom.

Home Remedies for Shortness of Breath
Home Remedies for Shortness of Breath

Home Remedies for Shortness of Breath

1. Pursed-lip breathing

Pursed-lip breathing is slow, controlled breathing that can help you manage anxiety. It can be used as a relaxation technique to combat feelings of anxiety, including shortness of breath.

To practice pursed-lip breathing, place your lips together as if you’re going to blow out a candle. Then, inhale and exhale slowly through your nose. You should feel your abdomen expand when you breathe in and contract when you breathe out. Repeat this pattern for about 10 minutes.

You can do it while sitting, lying down, or in any other comfortable position. Pursed-lip breathing is a great way to combat feelings of anxiety and shortness of breath, but it should only be used as a short-term solution.

2. Sitting forward

Sitting forward is helpful for people who experience shortness of breath during anxiety attacks. In addition to relieving respiratory issues, it can also help you stay focused when you’re experiencing an anxiety attack.

For this position, sit in a chair with your back straight, your head facing forward, and your feet planted on the ground. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle, and your feet should be flat on the floor.  The idea behind this position is that it helps you to focus on your breathing and stay grounded.

3. Sleeping in a relaxed position

You can do this by sleeping in a relaxed position that you find comfortable. You can also try to control your breathing. This can help you calm down and fall asleep faster.

4. Diaphragmatic breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing is a type of breathing that is supposed to be calming and helpful during anxiety attacks.  It uses the diaphragm, a muscle that is between the chest and abdomen, to help you breathe in and out more slowly.

It can help you control your breathing and reduce any shortness of breath that you’re experiencing. To do diaphragmatic breathing, place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Slow your breathing down by focusing on your stomach and counting to four as you inhale. Then, focus on your chest and count to six as you exhale.

5. Steam Inhalation

Steam Inhalation can help decongest the nasal passages. In addition, it can break down and dilute mucus. This can help relieve shortness of breath.

You need a bowl with hot water or essential oil like peppermint. Then put your face above the bowl. You can use a towel over the head and breathe in the steam deeply. Repeat this for some minutes.

6. Lifestyle changes to treat shortness of breath

If you’re experiencing shortness of breath, try to make a few lifestyle changes to reduce your stress level.  They may be able to help you reduce anxiety and improve your overall health. Some things you can do to reduce stress include exercising, meditating, and spending more time outside.

7. Medications for shortness of breath

You should talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing shortness of breath.  They may be able to recommend a medication that can help you control your anxiety and reduce shortness of breath.

Medications that can help with shortness of breath include beta-blockers, SSRIs, and benzodiazepines. Beta-blockers can help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, making breathing easier.

When to see a doctor

If you experience shortness of breath, try these techniques to control your breathing and calm down. If they don’t work, see your doctor to find out if an underlying condition is causing your symptoms. They can help you determine if your shortness of breath is caused by anxiety or a condition.

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