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I am a little bit (not much) overweight and I also have quite a sedentary lifestyle. I do not do sports and don't get out to walk as much as I used to, and have a desk job that has me sitting down all day long.

So, over the last couple of months, I've increasingly noticed that I often feel short of breath. Even something like walking up a hill for a while or going up a relatively short flight of stairs will do it sometimes, to the point where I have to rest and recover for quite a while before I no longer experience shortness of breath.

I don't have any health issues that I am aware of. I did want to ask what the most common causes of dyspnea are. Could it really be that I just need to lose weight and be more active, or do I need to make a doctor's appointment?



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Yes, it's possible to get quite out of breath if you're simply out of shape, and it does sound like this is quite likely in your particular case.

Other causes of dyspnea tend to be accompanied by other (sometimes tell-tale) symptoms too. For example, if you're having an anaphylatic reaction (this would hopefully be a one-off occurrence, and certainly isn't what is going on with you), you might notice swelling, a skin rash (hives) and itching alongside the dyspnea. If you had asthma, there would be wheezing and often a lot of mucus and coughing as well.

Do you have any other symptoms besides being out of breath? That might help us help you.




Thanks! Yes, I'm pretty sure I'm not having an anaphylactic shock, LOL! My other symptoms, during these episodes, are profuse sweating, sometimes to the point where my clothes are completely drenched, and also a fast beating heart that sometimes feels it is pounding out of my chest (heart palpitations?). I cough sometimes, but not always, and there is a little bit of wheezing but no mucus/infection-like stuff. 

Do you think I should see a doctor? I have been thinking about it, but it does seem to me that my concerns will just be dismissed with "do more exercise, eat less/better". 



Well, besides those causes of shortness of breath that were already mentioned (asthma and anaphylactic shock), there's loads more. COPD (especially associated with smoking and asbestos exposure), allergies, blood clots, heart issues too, pulmonary hypertension... can't think of any others now, but all these can cause chronic and acute shortness of breath. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was younger, perhaps wrongfully or perhaps I just grew out of it. I sometimes think it's allergies instead. I get shortness of breathe a couple times a year tops, and though I know you're not meant to, I just borrow my mum's Ventolin pump and that clears it up.



That kind of sounds like me. 

I was diagnosed with asthma as a kid and "grew out of it". At the same time, about, we moved to a place with a different altitude and I always assumed that had something to do with it. I later (stupidly) took up smoking and experienced shortness of breath sometimes. I assumed that was the cause, the smoking, but after being quit for two years now, I still get it sometimes. It so happens that it often happens around spring and fall time so now I'm wondering whether seasonal allergies could be to blame and whether my asthma was diagnosed wrongly in the first place. I have itchy eyes at the same time and my ophthalmologist (I wear lenses) has commented that there are "allergic changes" in my inner eyelids before. 




Sorry you're dealing with that. It does sound familiar. I've not told my GP about this 'cause it really doesn't seem to last that long and it's bearable, but I've thought about it before (usually when I am dealing with these things of course, later it slips my mind). I usually use homeopathic allergy pills, which my mum recommends, no clue if they actually help or not, but like I said, it's a few weeks here and there, nothing major. If it's worse for you, or you're just bothered, yeah, just see a doctor for sure and ask for a referral to an allergist.


Other possibilities to consider in case of shortness of breath:

- Pneumonia

- Croup

- Angina

- Arrhythmia

- Hernia

- Obesity

Of course, when you're dealing with quite severe shortness of breath, either extreme or chronic, self-diagnosis is a bad idea. This is really one of those cases of "just see a doctor already", because you won't be able to diagnose yourself well PLUS you will need treatment to deal with the shortness of breath. 

Generally, things like drinking a strong cup of coffee, leaning forward, lying down, and doing deep abdominal breathing exercises will help you some, but they still won't treat the cause of your shortness of breath.