Shortness of breath is a common health problem that is medically known as dyspnea. It occurs when there are problems that affect either the heart, blood vessels, breathing passages, or lungs. Many cases of dyspnea are due to lung or heart conditions. Your lung and heart play critical roles in delivering vital oxygen to your tissues while removing harmful carbon dioxide, so issues with either of these important processes can affect your breathing negatively.
The sensation of shortness of breath is often characterized as difficulty breathing, uncomfortable breathing, and the feeling that you are breathing an insufficient amount of air.
Shortness of breath may be caused by numerous factors such as anemia, asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, congestive heart failure, pulmonary embolism, lung cancer, allergic reaction, obesity, rib fracture, anaphylaxis, emphysema, high altitude, rib fracture, interstitial lung disease, and aerobic exercise. It may also be caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, heart attack, heart arrhythmias, heart failure, low blood pressure, and upper airway obstruction.
Dyspnea may be associated with symptoms of dizziness, chest pain, fainting, neck pain, wheezing, and chest injury.
In some cases, shortness of breath is to be expected and is not a cause for concern. Many people experience shortness of breath after strenuous exercise, particularly if you do not exercise often. Alternatively, a stuffy nose is another example of a normal reason for difficulty breathing.
If you experience chronic shortness of breath, this condition may be due to heart dysfunction, obesity, interstitial lung disease, or asthma. Aside from these conditions, shortness of breath often indicates a possible medical problem. Particularly if the onset of your shortness of breath is severe and sudden, seek medical attention as soon as possible.