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A number of conditions can be associated with  shortness of breath, pain on taking deep breaths and feeling fatigued quite easily. Some of these conditions are serious and can even be life-threatening.


Feeling short of breath is one of the first symptoms of anxiety or even a panic attack. The hyperventilation that follows decreases the level of carbon dioxide in the blood and makes the person feel light headed.

This may lead to dizziness and a further increase in the rate of breathing, making deep breaths difficult to take. The affected person actually feels out of breath and wants to take deep breaths but is unable to do so.

Heart Diseases

Shortness of breath can often be associated with an underlying heart condition. The co-relation here is very simple. The heart is responsible for pumping blood through the circulatory system, which is the manner in which oxygen reaches all the different parts of the body, and anything that keeps the heart from doing this job efficiently means that the body will feel starved of oxygen.

Heart conditions that affect the rhythm of the heart (atrial flutter, cardiac ectopy, heart arrhythmia and more), those that affect the valves (aortic regurgitation), the pressure with which blood is being pumped (high blood pressure or low blood pressure), a heart attack, heart failure and others can all cause a shortness of the breath.

These conditions are treated as medical emergencies and need attention immediately.

Lung Diseases

Conditions that affect the ability of the lungs to exchange oxygen with the environment also cause a shortness of the breath and make the person feel like taking deep breaths constantly. The most common ones among these are Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and emphysema, which are both found commonly in heavy smokers.

The capacity of the lungs to exchange oxygen is compromised in these diseases.

Other conditions such as asthma can also cause a shortness of breath. The incidence of asthma is on the rise as urban levels of pollution rise around the world and the amount of particulate matter in the environment rises.

Other diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis or even SARS affect the lungs and prevent them from functioning to their peak maximum levels.

Other Conditions

There are a large number of other conditions that have shortness of breath and pain as their symptoms. These include but are not limited to cystic fibrosis, obesity, sickle cell disease, sarcoidosis, thyroid conditions, tetanus, poisoning, allergic reactions and the use of narcotics.


A constant feeling of shortness of breath is a serious symptom and one that should be examined by the physician without delay. In most cases, this symptom is a sign of a deeper, more serious underlying condition which could be affecting the health of the body in a more insidious manner. The doctor will likely order a number of other tests and investigations to rule out or settle on one of the above mentioned serious conditions before coming to a final diagnosis.

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