Trouble breathing? Here are 5 other likely causes of shortness of breath you didn’t think about

Shortness of breath after an intense fitness regime sounds excellent. But when you’re “winded” without breaking a sweat, it could be something else. 

Shortness of breath could happen for a long time, sometimes up to several months or sometimes out of the blue. It is often not a disease of its own but a symptom that stems from a heart or lung disease or even your mental state. 

Keeping health in perspective, here are 5 likely causes of shortness of breath you didn’t think about.  

Let’s take a look. 

1) Shortness of breath is a common symptom of COPD 

One of the apparent symptoms of COPD is shortness of breath. Medically termed as dyspnea, it is perhaps the most common symptom of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD that includes Asthma. 

As COPD progresses, people find it harder to breathe even when carrying out day-to-day activities. 

During a “flare-up,” as in an event that makes you literally breathless, things might turn sour, if not worse. There is a possibility of damaging your airways, wherein a flare-up could be life-threatening. 

And in case you suffer from shortness of breath coupled with frequent coughing, wheezing, and excess mucus, you must visit a doctor for a possible COPD diagnosis. 

2) Lack of iron can cause shortness of breath too 

Shortness of breath is also caused due to lack of iron in your body. Lack of iron prevents haemoglobin to carry oxygen around your body. As a result, your muscles won’t receive enough oxygen to do everyday activities, which causes shortness of breath. 

When oxygen is low, the brain compensates by sending a signal to the muscles that control your breathing to work harder. This leaves you breathless and tired to have to work harder to get enough oxygen. 

3) Anxiety can trigger shortness of breath

Did you know that your mental health and shortness of breath are closely linked? 

Yes, that’s very correct. Shortness of breath is a common reaction when someone becomes anxious. Shortness of breath due to anxiety will occur when you’re in emotional distress, or things, events, and even people around whom you feel uneasy. 

Few things can help alleviate the symptom of breathlessness. First, try to calm down. Relax and find yourself sitting or lying somewhere comfortable. 

Another helpful technique is to breathe in for long and breathe out slowly through pursed lips.

4) Allergic reactions including hay fever can cause shortness of breath

About 4.1 million Australians had at least one allergic disease, making it one of the most common health issues responsible for symptoms like itchy eyes, nasal congestion and of course shortness of breath. 

While different types of allergies can cause shortness of breath, but particularly, an environmental allergy can greatly contribute to shortness of breath. For example, dust mites, animal dander or, mould can affect your airways. 

Hay fever or allergic rhinitis can cause sneezing and nasal congestion, both of which can make it difficult for you to breathe. 

One of the best practices is maintaining good hygiene. Take a shower especially during the pollen season, after coming from outdoors. Avoid mowing the lawn if you’re already allergic to dust and pollens, frequently wash your bedsheets and pillow covers, as well as wash your hands before having a meal. 

5) Pneumonia can cause airways to become inflamed 

For you to properly breathe in and out, your airways need to be open and your lungs be performing well. 

But when you have Pneumonia, your airways become inflamed because it gets filled with mucus and other fluids caused by an infection. 

It is highly contagious and can happen due to bacteria, viruses or fungi. Anyone over the age of 65 and infants under 2 are considered prone to Pneumonia, due to their weakened immune system. 

In most cases, doctors will prescribe antibiotics, antiviral and antifungal medications, along with recommending to drink plenty of water, getting a good rest and perhaps a mist humidifier for extra easing. 

When to visit a doctor for shortness of breath 

A GP looking into a lung imaging for diagnosing shortness of breathe

If you can say, “I used to be able to do X, Y and Z” — and now you can’t because of shortness of breath,’ then it’s a good time to come and visit our doctors. 

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