Shortness of Breath

Board Certified Pulmonologists & Board Certified Sleep Medicine Physicians located in Joliet and New Lenox, IL

Shortness of Breath

About Shortness of Breath

Struggling to breathe is a frightening sensation and a sign you should never ignore because it’s a common symptom of heart and lung problems. At Midwest Respiratory, Ltd. in Joliet and New Lenox, Illinois, the experienced pulmonary specialists quickly evaluate your shortness of breath, take immediate steps to restore healthy breathing, and provide comprehensive care targeting the cause of your breathing problem. Don’t wait to seek help. Call the nearest office right away or use the online booking feature to request an appointment at Midwest Respiratory, Ltd.

Shortness of Breath Q & A

What causes shortness of breath?

Shortness of breath (dyspnea) means you have difficulty breathing. You may need to catch your breath like you do after strenuous activities.  

You may feel like you can’t breathe fast enough or struggle to inhale a deep breath. Or you could suddenly find it hard to take in any air.

Recurrent or severe shortness of breath should always be taken seriously because it’s one of the first signs of serious heart and lung conditions. 

When your difficulty breathing is caused by a lung condition, you could have one of many possible problems, including:

  • Asthma (difficulty breathing due to narrowed and inflamed airways)
  • COVID-19 (lung inflammation caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus) and post-COVID conditions (“long hauler syndrome”)
  • Pneumonia (lung infection and inflammation)
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (fluid accumulation in the lung’s air sacs)
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (emphysema or chronic bronchitis)
  • Interstitial lung disease (progressive lung scarring)
  • Sarcoidosis (inflammatory lumps in your lungs)
  • Bronchiectasis (excess mucus in widened airways)
  • Nontuberculous mycobacteria (bacterial infection)
  • Pleural effusion (fluid buildup)
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung)
  • Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)

Shortness of breath may signal a heart attack if your dyspnea occurs suddenly and you also have symptoms like chest pain or pressure, dizziness, or pain radiating to your neck, shoulder, back, or arms.

How is shortness of breath evaluated?

Your Midwest Respiratory, Ltd. provider begins by reviewing your medical history, asking about when shortness of breath occurs, and learning about any other symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and chest pain.

For the next step, they may run blood tests, perform pulmonary function testing, check the oxygen levels in your blood (possibly with overnight oximetry), and take a chest X-ray or CT scan.

In some cases, your provider may need to do minimally invasive testing, such as taking a sample of tissue or fluids from your lungs or performing a bronchoscopy to view the inside of your airways.

How is shortness of breath treated?

Acute dyspnea and respiratory distress require rapid medical care to begin oxygen therapy and ensure you don’t face a life-threatening condition.

For all other cases, your Midwest Respiratory, Ltd. provider develops a comprehensive treatment plan that improves your breathing and treats the underlying condition responsible for your dyspnea.

Call the nearest office or connect online today if you need help with shortness of breath.