Shortness of Breath: Causes & Treatment

Divya Tripathi

, Health A2Z

Shortness of breath is medically known as Dyspnea. It can feel like as an intense stiffness in the chest, needing of breath or suffocation.
Some people can feel shortness of breath all of the sudden for a short period of time. While others can feel it the long period of time like several weeks or more than that.

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A healthy person can also feel shortness of breath. The common causes of shortness of breath are if that person is doing an exhausting exercise, go to intense high or low temperatures, have excessive obesity, and at high altitude. If the person is feeling shortness of breath without any of above cuases then it is the sign of a medical problem.

What are the Causes of Shortness of Breath?

If any person feels shorten of breath suddenly then, it is called “Acute Shortness of Breath“. It can happen due to a limited number of reasons.

Causes of Acute Shortness of Breath

Following are the causes of acute shortness of breath:

  • Asthma or bronchospasm
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Heart failure
  • Cardiac tamponade (excess fluid around the heart)
  • Heart attack
  • Collapsed lung (Pneumothorax )
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Pneumonia (and other pulmonary infections)
  • Sudden blood loss
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in an artery)
  • Upper airway obstruction (blockage in the breathing passage)

Causes Of Chronic Shortness of Breath

If any person feels shortness of breath for weeks or longer it is called “Chronic Shortness of Breath”. Here are the list of Causes Of Chronic Shortness of Breath

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Other Causes Of Shortness Of Breath:

There are many other health conditions which can make it hard to get a breath, following are the list of diseases:

  • Lung problems
  • Croup
  • Lung cancer
  • Heart problems
  • Pleurisy (it is a swelling of the membrane surrounding the lungs)
  • Pulmonary edema (surplus fluid in the lungs)
  • Heart failure
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (scarred and damaged lungs)
  • Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure within the lungs’ blood vessels)
  • Sarcoidosis (collections of inflammatory cells in the body)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Cardiomyopathy (problem with the heart muscle)
  • Heart arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems)
  • Pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue around the heart)
  • Other problems
  • Anemia
  • Broken ribs
  • Choking: First aid
  • Epiglottitis (swelling of the “lid” of your windpipe)
  • Foreign object inhaled: First aid
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Myasthenia gravis (condition causing muscle weakness)

What are the Treatments for Shortness of Breath?

There are some common treatment for the people who are feeling difficulty in breathing. You can try these as you feel the same:

1. Pursed-lip Breathing

Pursed-lip breathing is the simplest way to control shortness of breath. It helps you quickly to slow down your speed of breathing, which makes breath deeper and effective.

2. Sitting Forward

You can use these to get easy breath while sitting forward in chair:

  1. Sit in your chair with rest your feet on the floor, bending your chest forward.
  2. Hold your chin with your hands and rest your elbows on your knee
  3. Keep your shoulder or neck muscles relaxed.

3. Standing With Supported Back

These simple steps will help you to get easy breath while standing

  1. Standing on your back can also relax your body and airways.
  2. Stand near a wall, rest your hips on the wall, and facing away.
  3. Keep rest your hands on your thighs and keep your feet shoulder width apart.

4. Using a fan

A study found that cool air will help you to relieve with shortness of breath. To get easy to breathe you can use a small hand-held fan toward your face it can help you in breathing easily.

5. Drinking coffee

A study indicates caffeine relaxes the muscles in the airways of people with asthma. This can improve lung function for up to four hours.


Well, Here we have discussed shortness of breath, its causes, and its treatment. These are the basic and general treatment which can help you to get rid with shortness of breath. If still, you are facing the same you should go to your doctor as soon as possible. Sometimes the cause can be treated only by the medicine and your doctor is the one who can help you to do the same.

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