Why Can’t I Take a Deep Breath? Causes and Treatment

The experience of feeling incapable to take a deep breath is additionally referred to as dyspnea, or shortness of breath. This feeling can be really frightening and cause stress and anxiety, specifically if it is a new symptom. First of all, it is important to understand that dyspnea is a symptom of a hidden condition and not a medical disorder itself. Intense dyspnea is shortness of breath that occurs extremely unexpectedly and typically suggests an urgent situation calling for quick treatment. Persistent dyspnea is shortness of breath or problem taking a breath that lasts for numerous weeks or longer.

What is Dyspnea?

A disturbance in your regular breathing patterns can be disconcerting. Really feeling as though you can’t take a deep breath is recognized in the medical community as dyspnea. Various other means to explain this symptom are hunger for air, shortness of breath, and chest tightening. Dyspnea is a symptom of many different health problems, and it may come on quickly or establish over time.

All situations of dyspnea call for a check out to the doctor to diagnose the underlying reason and determine the appropriate treatment. Serious dyspnea that takes place quickly and impacts your overall performance calls for instant medical interest.

What Causes Dyspnea?

For the most part, dyspnea arise from among several conditions impacting either the heart or the lungs.

Shortness of breath and problem breathing have actually been linked with various problems, including:

  • asthma
  • carbon monoxide gas poisoning
  • hiatal rupture
  • pulmonary embolism
  • collapsed lung
  • pneumonia
  • hemorrhage
  • respiratory tract obstruction or choking
  • low blood pressure
  • heart failure
  • liquid around the heart
  • COPD
  • excessive weight
  • lung cancer
  • sarcoidosis
  • swelling or inflammation in the heart or cellular lining of the lungs
  • heart rhythm troubles
  • anxiety
  • anemia
  • myasthenia gravis
  • pregnancy

Some of these conditions can be significant and call for emergency care. It is important to deal with a doctor or healthcare provider for an exact diagnosis and treatment routines.

What are the Symptoms of Dyspnea?

You may have a number of going along with symptoms with dyspnea. These additional symptoms can help you and your doctor diagnose its underlying reason. If you experience a coughing, the dyspnea may be brought on by a problem in your lungs. If you really feel the symptom as chest pains, the doctor may check for heart conditions. Your doctor may uncover symptoms outside of the heart and lungs that cause the dyspnea as well.

Symptoms that occur together with dyspnea include:

  • heart palpitations
  • weight loss
  • crackling in the lungs
  • wheezing
  • evening sweats
  • swollen feet and ankles
  • labored breathing when lying level
  • high fever
  • chills
  • coughing
  • lasting shortness of breath that becomes worse

Make sure to make a list of any symptoms you experience with dyspnea so you can share them with your doctor.

You should get medical focus right away if you experience:

  • an abrupt shortness of breath that disrupts your capacity to operate
  • loss of awareness
  • chest discomfort
  • queasiness

When to See a Doctor

In some cases, short-term dyspnea is anticipated and typical and does not call for a trip to the doctor. For instance, short-lived shortness of breath while pregnant is a regular occurrence that does not require emergency situation care.

Shortness of breath after laborious workout is both common and regular. Nonetheless, being incapable to take a deep breath with any type of type of physical effort, or when doing an activity that would not generally cause shortness of breath, should be investigated. This may include something as basic as increasing or down a trip of stairs.

There are times when someone experiencing shortness of breath should look for emergency situation treatment. Someone with dyspnea and the following symptoms should either call 911 or have someone drive them to the emergency clinic right away:

  • chest discomfort
  • fainting
  • nausea or vomiting or throwing up
  • impaired thinking
  • shortness of breath that begins unexpectedly or is serious

An individual with these symptoms should not support the wheel as a result of the risk of losing consciousness.

Someone with getting worse dyspnea or shortness of breath with the following symptoms should make a visit with their doctor within a few days:

  • hissing
  • swollen ankle joints or feet
  • lack of ability to exist level
  • indicators of an infection, such as a fever, chills, or a cough


Diagnosing the root cause of dyspnea starts with a very extensive medical history and physical examination. The doctor will ask numerous questions concerning the start, period, extent, and progression of the symptoms. Aspects that intensify and eliminate the symptoms are also vital.

Along with inquiring about shortness of breath, the doctor will ask about household and social background, and any other variables that may contribute to the symptoms.

Next off, the doctor will do a physical exam, including listening to the lungs and heart. The doctor may likewise try to find swelling and edema in the limbs, and at the capillaries in the neck for enlargement.

Relying on what is found throughout the physical examination, the doctor may recommend further analysis testing, such as:

  • Chest X-ray: This can be made use of to look for pneumonia, lung disease, broke down lung, and indications of cardiac arrest.
  • Spirometry: This examination examines lung capacity and function, and can be utilized to try to find an obstructive lung disease, such as COPD, asthma, or persistent respiratory disease
  • Electrocardiography: Made use of to find heart rhythm problems, this examination picks up heart reasons for dyspnea.
  • Blood screening: Regular blood work can look for indicators of infection or anemia. Other types of screening can point to obstructive lung illness, embolism, or heart problem.
  • Pulmonary function: Pulmonary feature testing reviews how well the lungs and pulmonary system are working. Results can indicate obstructive lung illness and various other lung problems.
  • Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram utilizes ultrasound to look straight at the heart chambers and valves. The examination can identify architectural problems in the heart that can cause shortness of breath.
  • Air flow or perfusion scanning: This is a specialized scan that searches for proof of an embolism in the lungs.
  • Stress test. Stress and anxiety screening takes a look at how well the lungs and heart function during workout or stress and anxiety.

How is Dyspnea Treated?

Dyspnea can typically be dealt with by determining and treating the condition that is causing it. During the time it considers your doctor to diagnose the problem, you may receive interventions like oxygen and ventilation aid to experience the symptom.

Treatments for dyspnea may include:

  • eliminating the air passage obstruction
  • eliminating mucus
  • minimizing respiratory tract swelling
  • relieving the body’s wish for air

Your doctor may prescribe medications to eliminate symptoms. These may include steroids for asthma, antibiotics for pneumonia, or an additional medication related to your underlying problem. You may also require supplemental oxygen. In many cases, medical treatment may be needed to ease dyspnea.

There are additional treatments for dyspnea that surpass medical treatments. Your doctor may recommend that you attempt taking a breath exercises. These can strengthen your lung operating along with assistance you fight dyspnea when it emerges in your daily life.

If you experience dyspnea constantly, you should talk about way of living alterations that may reduce it. These modifications may reduce the occurrence of dyspnea and include:

  • dropping weight
  • treating medical conditions
  • quitting smoking cigarettes
  • avoiding environmental triggers like allergens and harmful air
  • staying in low-elevation areas (less than 5,000 feet).
  • keeping an eye on any kind of tools or medications you may be using.


Dyspnea is a symptom of a hidden medical problem or the result of another trigger. This symptom should be taken seriously and needs a see to your doctor.

The expectation for dyspnea depends upon the underlying problem that is causing it.

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