Breathlessness, also Called dyspnea or shortness of breath. It is an awkward state of being out of breath. Breathlessness can exist all the time or it can come and go. At first, some people experience breathlessness while walking or ascending the stairs. In time the breathlessness becomes severe and is experienced even during the resting phase and sitting down not performing any activity. Almost most of the cases breathless are caused due to lungs or heart conditions. The heart and lungs are concerned with transporting oxygen to the tissues of the body and removing carbon dioxide from the body. Any trouble with either of these processes can cause difficulty in breathing.
The four main contributing factors of breathlessness are
- Disorders of the lung.
- Heart diseases
- Being unfit
Disorders of Lung
Breathless caused by the diseases of the lung can have a different reason. Airways at times become inflamed and narrowed, or get filled with phlegm due to some conditions. It may also lead to lungs get stiffened and less elastic so that it would become harder for air movement in and out of the lungs. The disorders of the lung that cause chronic breathlessness include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Interstitial lung disease
- Occupational lung diseases such as asbestosis
- Cancer of lung
The disorder of lung causing acute breathlessness include:
- Acute exacerbation of asthma or COPD
- A pulmonary embolism in the lung
- Pleural effusion
- A collapsed lung
- A fluid build-up in the inner lining of the lungs – due to inefficiency of the heart to pump or due to some liver disease, cancer or infection.
Breathing difficulty can arise from heart conditions when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to supply oxygen to the body. This inability of the heart can occur at the early stages of heart failure in response to exercise, getting dressed, or may arise in reaction to a congested or fluid-filled lung. Heart failure can contribute to long-term breathlessness. The breathlessness due to heart failure is mostly worse at night or when asleep.
Heart conditions that contribute to acute breathlessness include:
- A heart attack
- Arrhythmia(atrial fibrillation or tachycardia)
- Heart failure
Shortness of breath is felt during a state of anxiety, fear or panic attack. The rapid or deep breaths during this phase are known as hyperventilating. It is a routine flight or flight response by the body to what it thinks is a dangerous or stressful situation. With a rise in anxiety level, breathing becomes faster and hallow, the muscles start to stiffen, tightness in the chest is experienced. Some times during a panic attack, an individual may complain of not being able to breathe at all along with a feeling of having a pounding heart, feeling dizzy, sweating, sick feeling, and trembling in the limbs. During a phase of anxiety or a panic attack, it may feel like being disconnected from your own body.
Due to all the physical symptoms, confusion and breathlessness may become worse.
Obesity or being unfit
Being overweight or underweight both can contribute to breathing difficulties by decreasing the oxygen supply to the muscles.
When you are underweight: Due to not being fit, the muscles of the body including the muscles of the lungs used in breathing becomes weak. The weaker the muscles, more is the oxygen demand to function properly, hence more is the breathing difficulty.
When you are overweight: More weight around the chest and abdomen restricts the movements of lungs to expand. The more is the energy required to move around, more effort is to be put to breathe. Being obese or overweight can cause obesity in hypoventilation syndrome. It is a combination of obesity, fall in oxygen in the body during sleep and increased the level of carbon dioxide due to excessively slow and shallow breathing.
Other causes of breathlessness include:
- Anaphylaxis(severe allergic reaction)
- Broken ribs
- Choking: while eating while first aid
- Inhalation of foreign body
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Cystic fibrosis
- Kyphoscoliosis (a deformity in the chest wall)
- Myasthenia gravis
- Motor neuron disease
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid disease
Signs and symptoms
Breathlessness or not being able to breathe or shortness of breathing can be very direful. Naturally, it produces a feeling of anxiety and an inclination to seek help. plan with your doctor to manage your breathlessness. You can learn to control your
Signs and symptoms of breathlessness
- Noisy breathing
- Rapid or, shallow breaths
- An increased pulse rate
- Wheezing and rales
- Tightness in chest
- Pain in chest
- Discoloration of skin around the mouth (Skin is pale and slightly blue)
- Cold, clammy skin
- Anxiety or panicky feelings
Management for breathlessness can be medical or non-medical.
Medicine aided management for breathlessness:
- Inhalers, nebulizers, and steroids
Non-medical aided management for breathlessness
- Controlled breathing techniques
- Managing anxiety
- Lifestyle changes:
- Exercise to improve fitness levels, it can help to let more air into your lungs and builds a good muscle control
- Losing weight
- Avoiding high altitudes
- Quitting smoking and avoiding passive smoking
- Avoiding allergens and pollutants
To find the cause of any disease certain diagnostic tests are essential. Similarly, if you are experiencing shortness of breath, the doctor may order one or more of the following diagnostic lab tests:
Blood tests, Arterial blood gases, blood oxygen saturation, Blood pressure, heart rate, ECG or EKG, Chest X-ray. And a CT scan of the chest.
Homeopathic medicine for breathlessness
Alpha-RC: It is the best homeopathic medicine for breathlessness. It controls spasmodic contraction of lungs causing dyspnoea. Ease all the symptoms of catarrh. Calms the nerves of the patient and improves the general well being of the individual.