Shortness of breath – causes, treatment & prevention

shortness of breath

shortness of breath can have different causes. Anyone who has ever had problems with restricted breathing (such as a stuffy nose) knows how panicky the body reacts when the air runs short. Even with permanent shortness of breath, e.g. due to a chronic lung disease, the organism suffers more or less strongly and is severely limited in its performance.

Table of Contents

What is shortness of breath?

Behind the colloquial name Luftnot hides a shortness of breath that goes hand in hand with a lack of air. In medicine, shortness of breath is a clearly diagnosable disease that can occur in a wide variety of people.

With regard to the definition of shortness of breath, the physicians also refer to the terms dyspnea and hyperventilation. These can be closely related to shortness of breath. In case of shortness of breath normal and regular respiratory activity is restricted, which can lead to a deficiency supply of the organism with vital oxygen.


In addition to the organic causes, which can lead to shortness of breath, also come in the environment or in a wrong lifestyle lying triggers for a shortness of breath into consideration.

In addition, causes that are in the psyche of a person lead to a temporary or persistent shortness of breath. The shortness of breath is thus seen in relation to the respective causes, either of short or long duration.

First of all, short-term breathing takes into account acute or chronic existing health limitations of the functioning of the bronchi and the entire lung organ. Diseases of the heart, massive obesity and in some cases diseases of the neurological, psychic and rheumatic circle of symptoms can be indirectly blamed for shortness of breath.

When to the doctor?

A shortness of breath comes after strenuous and intense physical and other physical activities. Due to the strain, the organism has an increased need for oxygen, which triggers the changed respiration. After a few minutes of regeneration, the shortness of breath is over. If there is a shortness of breath due to increased nervousness or excitement, it disappears after coping with the situation. A visit to a doctor is not necessary in these cases.

A persistent shortness of breath must be clarified by a physician. If it persists for several hours or days without any apparent reason, further investigation is necessary. If additional symptoms occur, such as breathing pain, respiratory failure or persistently high blood pressure, consult a doctor immediately. Here are other diseases possible, which must be clarified. In case of occurring chest pain there is a risk of suffering a heart attack. An ambulance must be called and first aid measures must be taken.

Shortness of breath may be due to respiratory injury or bruising of the ribs. Therefore, a doctor must be consulted who uses imaging techniques to determine the cause. Other symptoms include chest pain or hemoptysis. As soon as the person concerned is afraid of suffocation, a doctor should always be consulted.

Diagnosis and course

If, in the presence of shortness of breath, the diagnostic tests have shown that it is either an obesity, bronchial asthma, inflammation of the heart muscle, inflammatory processes of the pleura or anemia, corresponding courses are observed.

Basically, a shortness of breath always occurs when the affected persons move from a rest phase into a physical movement. First of all, intensive physical exertion is required so that the patients soon have to gasp for breath and stop their movements. As they progress, they suffer from shortness of breath even under normal physical conditions, such as lifting objects or carrying their groceries.

The breaths become fast and short during a shortness of breath, so that a deep inhalation is not possible. Because of the rapidity of successive breaths, the carbon dioxide contained in the blood can not be exhaled and the hemoglobin is not free for the binding of oxygen. A shortage of oxygen is the result of shortness of breath. Patients quickly suffer from dizziness, lips may become slightly bluish and they may lose consciousness.


There are several complications associated with shortness of breath. Affected individuals are usually less efficient, they may feel pain when breathing and may also get panic attacks. The lack of oxygen can lead to circulatory problems and tiredness. Physical symptoms such as sunken eye sockets and bluish lips may occur. Shortness of breath burdens the entire organism, so that a rapid treatment is necessary.

Shortness of breath can in the long term increase the risk of lung abscesses in bacterial diseases and cardiovascular problems. If the shortness of breath is treated too late or not properly, chronic respiratory distress can occur. Consequently, the performance continues to drop. Sufferers often feel cut off and suffer from depression and anxiety disorders. Shortness of breath is often treated by therapies such as breathing exercises. This can lead to increased fatigue in the patient. The respiratory muscles are often overexerted in breathing exercises, so that the patient often feels dizziness and piercing pain in the lungs. If an unrecognized heart or lung disease is the cause of shortness of breath, exercises can also lead to collapse.

Treatment and therapy

For successful treatment of shortness of breath different versions are available. Most short-acting therapies require patient involvement, which is usually based on a lifestyle change. Both the school physicians and the naturopaths and homeopaths know medical advice against the shortness of breath. Before the treatment of shortness of breath, however, there is a targeted diagnostic clarification of the causes in order to make a special selection of treatment options. Shortness of breath medicines can help with therapy.

For a shortness of breath caused by a lung or respiratory disease, a professionally controlled breathing exercises and inhalation are effective. In the short-term airway gymnastics, it is important to strengthen the muscles of the respiratory tract. If shortness of breath is a condition of the heart, cardiac exercises, stabilizing medications and so-called training therapy can be helpful. In addition, in most cases it makes sense to consider a reduction in body weight in case of shortness of breath in the presence of obesity. Even with the reduction in body weight by a few kilograms, the normal breathing improves in contrast to an oppressive shortness of breath.

Outlook and forecast

Shortness of breath in any case is a very serious complaint that must be treated by a doctor in any case. Without treatment, it can come through the shortness of breath in the worst case to the death of the person affected. In most cases, no self-healing occurs, so a visit to the doctor is necessary in any case. If shortness of breath is caused by a foreign body, it can usually be treated relatively easily by removing the foreign body. In severe cases, however, an operative procedure is necessary.

However, shortness of breath may also be caused by other illnesses and may also be associated with other symptoms. Furthermore, the person concerned may also lose consciousness and possibly injure in a fall. The shortness of breath itself also leads to permanent fatigue and fatigue of the patient. If the underlying disease of shortness of breath is successfully treated, the complaint can be narrowed and tackled. However, a positive course of the disease can not be guaranteed in every case.


In order to first achieve damage to the lung tissue, in particular the respiratory responsible and extremely sensitive bronchi, the enjoyment of nicotine is set.

A calorie-restricted diet and regular physical exercise as well as endurance training support the health of the cardiovascular system and keep it fit. Overweight is avoided. This is useful to prevent shortness of breath.

If it is necessary to take various medications that support heart and lung activity, they should be taken exactly as prescribed to prevent shortness of breath. This reduces existing shortness of breath and prevents acute attacks of shortness of breath.


  • Herold, G .: Internal Medicine. Self-published, Cologne 2016
  • Zenner, H.P .: Practical therapy of ear, nose and throat diseases, Schattauer Verlag, 2008 3
  • Hahn, J.-M .: Checklist Internal Medicine. Thieme, Stuttgart
  • Groß, U .: Short Textbook Medical Microbiology and Infectiology, Georg Thieme Verlag, 3rd edition, 2013
  • Trautmann, A .: Allergology in Clinic and Practice. Thieme, Stuttgart 2013

You might also be interested in:

What experiences and tips do you have about shortness of breath??

Comments and experiences from other visitors

britt commented on 04.08.2015

I have strong allergies, as a result bronchial asthma has formed. In addition, a diaphragmatic fracture, which makes the whole thing worse. I should use a new remedy (Relvar Elliptic 92/22), which can cause serious side effects. I do not like to take it. What do you mean?

Related Posts

Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Christina Cherry
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: