Shortness of breath is a worrisome feeling, and it’s a condition that should be carefully monitored. It may occur one time, may sporadically come and go, or it may be constant and get worse over time. The way it’s experienced can vary depending on its cause, but it’s often described as faster breathing that’s accompanied by the feeling that you’re not getting enough air. You may feel as though your breathing is labored and that you can’t breathe quickly or deeply enough to get enough air in.
In this blog, Manhattan pulmonologist Dr. Marc Bowen of MXBowen, Physician P.C., Heath & Breathing Center will explain when your shortness of breath warrants a visit to the doctor.
What are the causes of shortness of breath?
Most cases of shortness of breath are due to heart or lung conditions. Both organs play an important role in transporting oxygen to your tissues and removing carbon dioxide, so problems with either your heart or your lungs can affect your breathing.
In some cases, breathing issues can come on suddenly, and in those instances, it’s referred to as acute. This type can be caused by a number of different issues, including:
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Heart issues including heart failure or excess fluid around the heart
- Low blood pressure
- A blood clot in an artery in the lung (pulmonary embolism)
- A collapsed lung (pneumothorax)
- Sudden blood loss
- Blockage in the breathing passage (upper airway obstruction)
- Hyperventilation (over breathing that’s usually caused by exercise or distress)
In cases where shortness of breath lasts for weeks or longer, the condition can be due to:
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Physical deconditioning (weakening of the muscles and heart because of inactivity)
- Heart dysfunction (including a heart attack, heart failure, or angina, which is caused by inadequate blood flow and oxygen to the heart)
- Interstitial lung disease (including many different lung conditions that affect the interstitium, a part of the anatomical structure of the lungs)
What are the symptoms of shortness of breath?
If you’re experiencing shortness of breath, you may also have other related symptoms that can include the following:
- Chronic cough
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Chest tightness or pain
- Heart palpitations (fast heart rate)
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
When should I see a doctor about my shortness of breath?
You should make an appointment with a doctor if your symptoms are accompanied by:
- Swelling in your feet or ankles
- Difficulty breathing when you’re lying flat
- High fever, chills, and cough
- A worsening of pre-existing difficulties
Where can I find treatment for my shortness of breath in NYC?
No matter what the cause of your condition, a consultation with Dr. Marc Bowen is the first step toward receiving an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Dr. Bowen has nearly three decades of experience treating pulmonary disease, as well as in the fields of critical care and internal medicine.
Dr. Bowen’s practice is committed to individualized care that determines the cause of and effectively treats your condition. He’ll talk to you about your medical history, including information about any lung or heart disorders.
He’ll evaluate your symptoms, gathering information about when your shortness of breath began, whether it started gradually or came on abruptly, and whether any specific conditions or actions make it worse, such as exertion or lying down.
Finally, he’ll listen to your heart and lungs for any signs of abnormality, and he’ll conduct any tests that may be needed to gather more information.
A full range of diagnostic testing is available in his practice for patients’ convenience and to ensure continuity of care. The information he gathers will allow him to get to the bottom of what’s causing your condition and determine the best appropriate treatment to improve your breathing.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Bowen today to take the first step toward breathing easier!