Shortness of Breath
Alternate Names : Dyspnea, Trouble Breathing, Difficulty Breathing, SOB
People with shortness of breath feel as though they can't get enough air or are "out of breath."
What is going on in the body?
Shortness of breath can be due to many different causes. It is normal with strenuous activity. An affected person has the feeling of "air hunger," as though they cannot take in enough air. Breathing heavily may or may not make the person feel better.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
The many causes of shortness of breath can be divided into categories:
exercise or other activity, especially if the person is in poor physical shape
lung conditions, such as asthma, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, pulmonary edema, or emphysema
heart conditions, such as stable angina, a heart attack, congestive heart failure, or chronic mitral regurgitation
blood and blood vessel problems, such as anemia or a pulmonary embolus
anxiety, such as from a panic disorder
too much acid in the blood, which can occur with diabetes, serious blood infections such as septicemia, salt imbalances or severe dehydration
rapid ascent to high altitudes without allowing the body time to adjust, known as acute mountain sickness
airway obstruction, such as in a child who may have choked on an object
Other causes are also possible. In some cases, the cause cannot be found.