Breathing Problems

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Breathing Problems

What are Breathing problems?

Breathing problems refer to discomfort in breathing and the feeling of being unable to draw complete breath. These problems may occur all of a sudden or develop gradually. Breathing problems make you feel that you are not getting enough air. Mild breathing difficulty, such as after a game of tennis, does not fall into this category. 

What are the Symptoms of Breathing problems?

The most common and obvious symptom is feeling breathless or short of breath. Some other symptoms of breathing problems to look out for include:

  • Wheezing (a whistling sound while exhaling and sometimes while inhaling too)  
  • A pale or grey complexion
  • Flaring nostrils
  • Blue fingernails or mouth
  • Head sweat
  • Fever
  • Tightness in the throat
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • A barking cough
  • Heavy breathing
  • Shortness of breath that 'keeps you up at night   
  • Shortness of breath that makes you sit up constantly

If a breathing difficulty occurs suddenly, seek immediate medical help.

What are the Causes of Breathing Problems?

Breathing problems are often caused due to common health concerns or simple environmental issues. These include anxiety or stress, allergies, throat phlegm, stuffy nose.

A number of lung conditions cause breathing difficulties and need immediate medical attention. These conditions include pneumonia, asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension, croup, epiglottitis, hiatal hernia.

Certain heart conditions such as CAD (coronary artery disease), arrhythmia, congenital heart disease, heart failure and heart attack are also responsible for breathing difficulties.  

How are Breathing Problems Diagnosed ? 

While diagnosing a breathing problem, your doctor will need to identify the underlying cause of the problem. Your doctor will discuss and understand the nature of your breathing difficulty – whether it's mild or intense, if physical exertion worsens the issue and since how long you are experiencing this problem. Your doctor will then conduct a physical exam of your lungs, heart and airways. Depending on the results of your examination further diagnostic tests may be prescribed such as:

  • Blood tests to check for oxygen levels
  • A chest X-ray to look for underlying medical conditions
  • An ECG (electrocardiogram) to look for heart damage
  • An Echocardiogram to check for heart murmur, heart damage or infection
  • A Lung Function Test to check for the efficiency of your lungs
  • An Exercise test to check how your heart and lungs respond to physical exertion

How are Breathing Problems Treated ? 
Depending on the results of the diagnosis and the cause identified, appropriate treatment for breathing problems are provided. Treatment methods include:

Changes to lifestyle – If the cause of breathing difficulty is a stuffy nose, too rigorous exercise or hiking at high altitudes, the same can be easily resolved with some minor lifestyle changes.

Stress management – If the cause of your breathing problem is stress, you will be advised to adopt some coping mechanisms such as laughter therapy, moderate exercise, counselling and meditation. 

Medication – If the underlying cause of your breathing problem is a lung or heart condition, appropriate medication such as using an inhaler, antihistamine drugs will be prescribed. In extreme cases, a breathing machine or monitoring at a hospital may be needed.  

Apollo Support

At Apollo Clinic, we understand the anxiety and uneasiness caused by breathing problems. If you have a family or medical history of lung or heart conditions, experience constant stress, are obese or suffer from allergies, you are at a higher risk for breathing problems. Breathing difficulties often indicate an underlying condition that can be quite serious. Hence, it is essential to seek expert medical advice at the earliest. Apollo Clinic is well-equipped with necessary amenities, cutting-edge technology and infrastructure. Our highly skilled and experienced doctors will provide the best-in-class treatment for your breathing problems.



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