Shortness of breath, shortness of breath or Dyspnea is a difficult breathing activity that is perceived as uncomfortable. The symptoms and consequences can be very different in their perception. Difficulty breathing that only occurs during exercise is known as exertional dyspnea. There is also speech dyspnea in which speaking is accompanied by severe shortness of breath. The extreme form is probably resting dyspnea, which can sometimes only be improved with orthopnea with auxiliary breathing muscles.
In contrast to lack of air, shortness of breath is perceived as a threat to life at the current level, although this statement is always experienced in a subjective context.
The treatment of shortness of breath depends on the individual clinical picture. There are other methods for chronic diseases such as asthma, such as the well-known inhaler to loosen and open the airways.
Breathlessness is a condition in which the patient can hardly breathe in the air that he absolutely needs.
In medical terminology, the condition is known as dyspnea. When breathing is difficult, the patient is usually scared to death because he gets the feeling that he has to suffocate.
Difficulty breathing can result from exertion, but it can also occur more frequently in a sitting or lying position. Occasionally, it is a form of shortness of breath that causes problems especially when speaking.
All diseases that lead to a reduction in oxygen uptake or pathological processing by the respiratory organs are to be regarded as the cause of shortness of breath. However, psychosocial factors can also play a role.
The main cause of shortness of breath, however, are all diseases of the lungs and heart muscle. Among other things, both are responsible for supplying the body with vital oxygen. Typical lung diseases are asthma or inflammatory reactions such as pneumonia, but more serious diseases such as cancer are also possible. Difficulty breathing is often only part of another complex of symptoms, but is perceived by the patient as so uncomfortable and threatening that he focuses on it.
I can get breathlessness when my airways are blocked. In the case of severe colds and inflammation of the airways, mucus forms which is deposited in the airways.
Such shortness of breath is often only of short duration until the patient has coughed up the airways again, but it represents a frightening situation. In this context, the difficulty of breathing is generally viewed and referred to by the patient as shortness of breath.
Special processes in the environment and the patient's psyche can also lead to shortness of breath. People who suffer from panic attacks often experience difficulty breathing in such situations. Extreme anxiety is fundamentally a dangerous situation - especially if a medical history has made the patient particularly susceptible to shortness of breath.
The mental perception of shortness of breath itself is still quite unexplored, since breathing is the only vital function in the brain stem and is also controlled by cortical impulses and signals.
In order to diagnose the causes of shortness of breath, the attending physician usually first asks when the air shortage was first felt.
Accompanying circumstances of shortness of breath, underlying diseases as well as any medication intake or existing nicotine consumption provide diagnostic information. Possible subsequent physical exams include (depending on the suspected diagnosis), for example, listening to the lungs and a blood analysis. In addition, allergy tests, tissue examinations, bronchoscopy or X-ray examinations can be carried out.
The course of shortness of breath depends primarily on its cause. Acute shortness of breath (such as in allergic reactions) is often more intense than a chronic variant, which often sets in slowly (initially only under physical exertion and gradually becoming increasingly stress-independent).
Shortness of breath almost always indicates serious physical ailment. If the patient is already in a clinic, he can be helped quickly in the event of shortness of breath. If, on the other hand, the shortness of breath sets in elsewhere, there is a risk that the person concerned will panic so much that he can no longer help himself.
Of course, it is most helpful to calm the person affected, as the shortness of breath sometimes gets better or even stops through consciously calm breathing. In order to achieve this, however, a second person is usually necessary to calm the person concerned and assure him that help is on the way. If the cause of the shortness of breath is a serious cause such as an allergy or a heart condition, it can lead to complete respiratory failure. Another high risk is the insufficient supply of oxygen, which becomes relevant if the shortness of breath does not go away on its own after a short time or if it gets worse. First of all, the person concerned passes out.
In the worst case, the cause of the shortness of breath cannot be remedied immediately and damage to the brain can occur if the person can no longer breathe. In case of breathlessness, an emergency doctor should always be called before the person concerned is calmed down. It is best not to move and walk around if you are short of breath, but instead sit down, as this promotes calming down.
If you experience regular or persistent shortness of breath over several days, you should consult a doctor. As soon as relatives notice that breathing disorders occur during sleep or that the person concerned wakes up several times with a feeling of lack of air, it is advisable to see a doctor. One-time breathlessness over a limited period of time should not be a cause for concern in most cases. However, the repetitive occurrence indicates major problems.
In addition, persistent shortness of breath leads to further complications, which can also be life-threatening. The lack of oxygen in the blood means that the entire organism, and above all the heart, is exposed to greater stress. A short-term shortness of breath is comparable to a physical exertion as in sporting activities. The healthy organism can cope with this problem-free.
If the shortness of breath occurs due to an existing illness, such as a cold or inflammation in the nasopharynx, it is usually taken into account in the diagnosis and medication of the underlying disease. In these cases, see a doctor again if symptoms worsen. Persistent shortness of breath without an underlying illness can be a symptom of a variety of other illnesses. These can affect the lungs, heart, or nasopharynx and should be examined.
The treatment of shortness of breath depends on the individual clinical picture.
Individual measures are taken accordingly. Acute respiratory illnesses, such as bronchitis, are treated with medication and the patient must avoid situations that could cause shortness of breath. There are other methods for chronic diseases such as asthma, such as the well-known inhaler to loosen and open the airways.
In any case, mucus should be coughed up if possible. The treatment of mentally induced shortness of breath falls into the field of responsibility of the psychologist. This can find out where the shortness of breath is coming from.
Thereafter, a therapy tailored to the patient's individual needs is developed to help him avoid shortness of breath in the future by getting the underlying problem under control.
Shortness of breath can occur due to many different causes, which is why we cannot mention universal prospects and complications here. As a rule, shortness of breath leads to a feeling of fear in humans. Often the thought of death comes from suffocation, which greatly reduces the quality of life. Stress can also lead to shortness of breath in some situations. If the breathlessness mainly occurs in stressful situations, discussions with a psychologist and breathing training can help in order not to lose track even in stressful situations.
In many cases, the shortness of breath indicates other difficulties and is especially common in old age. The shortness of breath can be a sign of heart problems or lung problems. If the shortness of breath occurs often and leads to great difficulty breathing, a doctor must be consulted.
The treatment itself is done either with the help of medication or surgically. The treatment is often carried out preventively, for example if there is a risk of a heart attack. If an acute shortness of breath occurs, the emergency doctor must be called immediately. If the symptom is not treated properly, it can, in the worst case, lead to death.
Smokers in particular are often affected by shortness of breath. The symptom can be limited by giving up smoking.
Difficulty breathing can only be prevented to a limited extent. Often it results from a condition that the patient has not contributed to. Basically: Situations in which there is increased difficulty in breathing should be avoided.
Preventive agents must always be taken correctly. You should always avoid larger loads.
In the case of psychological shortness of breath, it is important for the patient to avoid situations in which the symptom occurs. Only when he knows that he can fight the shortness of breath should he expose himself to such stresses again. In any case, treatment by a trusted psychologist is important.
Both the frequency and the type of follow-up visit depend on the causes of the shortness of breath. Nevertheless, the following always applies: If a patient suffers from shortness of breath, a lung function test should be carried out. After a lung disease, even if the symptoms have subsided, it is important to have a regular lung function test to test lung volume. In addition, the overall functionality of the lungs is checked in a lung function test.
If there is a heart disease, a cardiologist must also be consulted for follow-up care. If the cause of the shortness of breath is a serious illness, blood must be drawn at regular intervals for follow-up care. This is used to measure the level of oxygen in the blood.
A low oxygen content has a negative effect on well-being and body functions. The blood sample can be taken by the family doctor; a visit to the hospital is only necessary in emergencies. Difficulty breathing is not always clearly measurable as a subjective sensation. The causes of shortness of breath can be physical as well as psychosomatic illnesses.
Regular follow-up care is recommended in case of breathlessness, as a follow-up examination increases the patient's feeling of security. Regular follow-up can reduce symptoms in patients with psychosomatic illnesses. In the case of patients with physical illness, regular follow-up care prevents a new illness and secondary illnesses.
Acute shortness of breath is a threatening situation for those affected. Because of this, these should be avoided. If people have appropriate drugs, they should be taken regularly and early. This is the only way to reduce the risk of acute shortness of breath.
If an acute shortness of breath occurs nevertheless, some immediate measures can help. Affected people are advised to remain calm and inhale the acute medication. It is also advisable to open the window when the person concerned is in the apartment. In addition, breathing positions can help. This includes the driver's seat and the stand with supports. The lip brake also helps in acute emergencies.
In the coachman's seat, those affected have to sit down and bend their upper body forward. Then the elbows are supported on the knees. This relieves the chest, which makes breathing easier.
When standing with supports, the chest also relieves pressure. The patient must bend forward and support their arms on a banister or on their knees.
With the lip brake, the breathing flow is slowed down. This method creates a slight counter pressure, whereby the bronchi are expanded. Sufferers should exhale through their loosely stacked lips. Breathing must be slow and calm. Pressing is not recommended: There should be no breathing noise.
↳ More information: Home remedies for shortness of breath