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Shortness of Breath and Asthma: Causes, Diagnosis and More

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Did you know that shortness of breath is one of the most common symptoms of asthma? It affects millions of Americans every year. But many people with asthma never get diagnosed because they don’t realize their condition’s seriousness.

This article will explore the causes of shortness of breath and asthma and the diagnosis and treatment options available.

We’ll also look at the long-term effects of untreated asthma and why it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Shortness of Breath and Asthma: How They are Related?

Shortness of Breath and Asthma

Shortness of breath is one of the classic symptoms of asthma. People suffer from it when they have an asthma attack.

Other classic asthma symptoms during an asthma attack include coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness. This symptom means that the person is experiencing breathlessness or difficulty breathing.

The medical term for this symptom is ‘dyspnea.’

There is no strict definition for ‘shortness of breath. A patient may have the following complaints when he suffers from breathing difficulties:

  • “being air hungry.”
  • “unable to catch my breath.”
  • “gasping for breath.”
  • “suffocation or smothering”

It should be noted that shortness of breath is a symptom that is not exclusively associated with asthma.

In other words, several ailments, such as heart disease, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and pulmonary embolism, can cause shortness of breath.

Therefore, it should be accompanied by other asthma symptoms to ascertain that the patient is suffering from asthma.

It should be noted that if you frequently have shortness of breath, you must consult a doctor.

How to diagnose Shortness of Breath with Asthma?

To diagnose correctly in this case, the doctor will first ask for your medical history in detail. He will then ask to undergo the following medical tests:

  • Chest X-ray, peak flow
  • Pulse oximetry
  • Spirometry
  • CT scan
  • Complete pulmonary function testing
  • Complete blood count
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress test.

How to get relief from Shortness of breath with Asthma?

If you have already been diagnosed with asthma, then the shortness of breath indicates poor asthma control.

Moreover, persistent shortness of breath can lead to an asthma attack. To relieve an asthma patient of this symptom, he should use a rescuer inhaler containing albuterol.

It is a short-acting bronchodilator that immediately relieves a patient experiencing breathing difficulties. If your asthma is well-controlled, you may not suffer from this symptom.

It has been found that shortness of breath can be avoided by regularly doing exercises termed ‘pranayama’ in yoga.

It improves circulation in the body and clears the airways that are clogged with mucus. Thus, it helps people suffering from breathing difficulties.

What causes Shortness of Breath in Asthma patients?

Various factors can cause shortness of breath. Some of these factors are as follows:

Consumption of certain medications such as Amphetamine, Adenosine, Brufen, etc

  • Certain diseases include acute rheumatic fever, pneumonia, pregnancy, arteriosclerosis, heart attack, etc.
  • Certain exercises and work-outs
  • Smoking
  • Stress, anxiety, and panic
  • High fever
  • Wheezing.

The pattern of shortness of breath will help the doctor identify the type of asthma you suffer from.

People with bronchial asthma generally suffer from breathing difficulties early in the morning. In contrast, people suffering from cardiac asthma need to wake up due to breathlessness a few hours after bed.

They need to sit upright to catch their breath. In patients diagnosed with heart failure and cardiac asthma, prolonged periods of lying down will lead to fluid accumulation in the lungs, leaving them gasping for breath.

When people suffering from bronchial and cardiac asthma exert themselves, they may suffer shortness of breath.

In the case of people suffering from bronchial asthma, the symptoms are triggered due to intense exercise and become worse after exercise rather than during it.

In case of patients suffering from cardiac asthma may suffer from breathing difficulties even while doing less vigorous exercises such as climbing stairs.

Why does asthma cause shortness of breath?

There are a few different reasons. First, when you have asthma, your airways are always inflamed. This inflammation makes it harder for air to move in and out of your lungs.

Second, Asthma can cause the muscles around your airways to tighten. This makes it even harder to breathe.

Lastly, your airways produce more mucus than normal when you have asthma. This mucus can clog up your airways and make it hard to breathe.

When you breathe in, the airways constrict. This makes it harder to breathe. The airways can also constrict when exposed to things that trigger your asthma, such as pollen, dust, or smoke.

The airways constrict because of the muscles around them. The muscles tighten when the airways are inflamed. This makes it even harder to breathe.

In severe cases, the airways can close off completely. This is called an asthma attack. An asthma attack can be life-threatening.

These are just a few reasons asthma can cause shortness of breath. If you’re struggling to breathe, you must talk to your doctor. They can help you find the right treatment for your asthma.

Will an inhaler help with shortness of breath?

If you’re struggling with shortness of breath, you may wonder if an inhaler can help. Inhalers are a common asthma treatment, and they can also be helpful for shortness of breath.

There are two main types of inhalers: bronchodilators and corticosteroids. Bronchodilators open up the airways by relaxing the muscles around them. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the airways.

Inhalers can be used to relieve symptoms of shortness of breath. If you’re having trouble breathing, your doctor may recommend using a bronchodilator inhaler. This can help open up your airways and make it easier to breathe.

Corticosteroid inhalers are often used to prevent shortness of breath. If you’re at risk for shortness of breath, your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid inhaler. This can help reduce inflammation in your airways and make it less likely that you’ll have an asthma attack.

If you have asthma, you may need to use an inhaler regularly. If you’re only using an inhaler for occasional shortness of breath, you may not need to use it daily. Talk to your doctor about how often you should use your inhaler.

Inhalers are a safe and effective way to treat shortness of breath. If you’re struggling to breathe, talk to your doctor about whether an inhaler may be right for you.

The Bottom Line

If you are experiencing shortness of breath, it is important to consult with a doctor to rule out any possible underlying medical conditions.

However, shortness of breath is a normal and harmless response to physical activity or emotional stress in many cases.

If you have asthma, follow your asthma action plan and carry your rescue inhaler with you in case of an asthma attack.

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DISCLAIMER: This article is for educational purposes only, always check with your medical doctor before stopping any prescription medications or when implementing any dietary and lifestyle changes.

Healthlyious has strict sourcing guidelines, believes in trustworthy and reliable sources, and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, medical journal publications, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

  • Prevalence of Asthma and Asthma-like Symptoms: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7309887/
  • Assessing Asthma Symptoms in Adolescents and Adults: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1098301516000139


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