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Shortness of breath is a symptom, not a disease. Only your doctor can give you a diagnosis, but here are ten hints to what might be the problem when you feel the need for shortness of breath treatment.

Shortness of breath is a very common problem. About 25 percent of other otherwise healthy people get out of breath when they exercise. About 10 percent need shortness of breath treatment even when they walk on flat ground. [1] Choosing among the best natural ways to manage dyspnea, or knowing what to expect when you go to the doctor, depends on the underlying cause.

Some of the most common medical conditions causing chronic shortness of breath include:

1. Colds and flu 

We often forget that colds symptoms can appear after the cold has mostly gone away. It’s not unusual to experience wheezing and shortness of breath as you are getting over a cold or flu, even if you aren’t congested. Men and women in military service are up to three times more likely to experience this complication than civilians, because they live in tight quarters that facilitate the transmission of the most virulent strains of respiratory infections [2].

2. Mold 

Exposure to mold in your home increases your risk of wheezing, sneezing, and coughing, even when you aren’t sick enough to be diagnosed with an illness [3].

3. Obesity

Even if you are otherwise healthy, if you are obese, you can experience shortness of breath when you exercise. Extra weight requires extra effort. You burn more calories than someone smaller, and burning those calories requires more oxygen. [4]

4. Undiagnosed liver disease 

We don't usually  think of shortness of breath treatment as something needed for liver disezase, but sometimes shortness of breath is the first symptom of hepatopulmonary syndrome, advanced liver disease that does not cause the usual symptoms of jaundice, weight loss, and itchy skin. Usually the underlying problem is non-alcoholic steatohepatosis, or fatty liver disease. This condition is more common in diabetics. The better diabetics control their blood sugar levels, the more slowly the pulmonary complications progress. A diagnostic characteristic of this problem is platypnea, difficulty breathing that is worse when standing up or sitting up and better when lying down. [5

5. Mild, undiagnosed chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) 

Even if you “don’t quite” have COPD, the combination of predisposing factors for airway obstruction plus obesity can cause serious breathing problems. The kind of exercise that helps isn’t huff-and-puff aerobic exercise. It’s strength training. Losing weight through restricting how much you eat plus strength training can greatly improve symptoms. [6

6. Undiagnosed tracheal stenosis 

Stenosis is the narrowing of a passage in the body. Tracheal stenosis is the narrowing of the windpipe. Usually this problem is diagnosed in someone who gave up smoking and later developed asthma. The doctor may suspect that the patient is not being completely truthful about giving up smoking, or that the problem is anxiety, when the real problem is a delayed reaction to the inflammation caused by years of smoking. Narrowing of the windpipe is treatable, but only if it is property diagnosed. If you know your problem is not anxiety, don’t accept a diagnosis that it is. [7

7. Empyema

Empyema, not to be confused with emphysema, is a kind of “pleurisy,” inflammation of the space between the lungs and the muscles around them. Usually the inflammation is caused by bacterial infection. Infections of this sort are expected in people who have sickle cell anemia or who have compromised immune systems, but they can also occur in otherwise healthy people when the bacteria that cause food poisoning (such as Salmonella) get into the pleural cavity. This can happen even without the symptoms of food poisoning.[8]

8. Angioedema

Angioedema is a condition similar to hives that causes swelling in the deeper layers of the skin, resulting in larger blotches of red skin. Angioedema can occur around the nose and mouth, interfering with breathing. Usually there is a particular food or medication that sets off this reaction. It can also occur after exposure to atmospheric irritants or industrial chemicals, or in response to changes in air pressure and temperature. Eggs (but not poultry meat) are a common trigger [9], as is Aspirin [10]. Even if you don’t react to Aspirin, you may react to Tylenol [11].Usually it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t require a trip to the doctor—unless you experience shortness of breath. Then see your doctor right away.

9. Thyroid disease

Overactive thyroid, even if your TSH levels aren’t quite low enough to justify a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism and your T4 and T3 levels are normal, can cause shortness of breath on exertion. This breathing of problem isn’t an inability to breathe. It’s hyperventilation, breathing quickly but still feeling like you are not getting enough air. Along with other unpleasant symptoms, subclinical hyperthyroidism also increases your risk of atrial fibrillation. Researchers estimate that up to 2 percent of the general population has undiagnosed, “subclinical” hyperthyroidism. [12] Your doctor can recommend treatments, although sometimes the condition simply goes away.

10. Wheezing 

Wheezing when you otherwise feel OK may be a sign that you swallowed something that went down your windpipe. Wheezing when you have swollen hands and feet may be caused by severe congestive heart failure. They can also be a sign that something is aggravating chronic asthma or COPD. Natural ways to manage dsypnea are appropriate if wheezing is:

  • (1) mild and
  • (2) has an obvious cause, like a recent cold or flu or allergies,

but see a doctor if wheezing comes on suddenly or without an obvious reason.

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