By Brian Joseph Miller. Breathing difficulty, or shortness of breath, is a frightening but surprisingly common symptom. Shortness of breath is the distressing sensation that breathing requires more effort than usual.
Skip to content. Learn the signs and symptoms of food allergy. Wheezing is a whistling or squeaky sound in your chest when you breathe, especially when you exhale.
Shortness of breath—what doctors call dyspnea—is the unpleasant sensation of having difficulty breathing. People experience and describe shortness of breath differently depending on the cause. The rate and depth of breathing normally increase during exercise and at high altitudes, but the increase seldom causes discomfort.
Most people take breathing for granted. People with certain illnesses may have breathing problems that they deal with on a regular basis. Breathing difficulty is almost always a medical emergency.
Error: This is required. Error: Not a valid value. Breathing problems can come on slowly or quickly, and can be just annoying, or can be very serious.
Babies breathe much faster than older children and adults. A baby may breathe fast several times, then have a brief rest for less than 10 seconds, then breathe again. This is often called periodic breathing and is normal.
Respiratory illness is a common problem in the United States. Many times, people are genetically more likely to get respiratory conditions, but your work place or environmental exposures could also play a big role. One thing is for sure, smoking is the most common cause of respiratory disease.
Most cases of shortness of breath are due to heart or lung conditions. Your heart and lungs are involved in transporting oxygen to your tissues and removing carbon dioxide, and problems with either of these processes affect your breathing. Shortness of breath that comes on suddenly called acute has a limited number of causes, including:. In the case of shortness of breath that has lasted for weeks or longer called chronicthe condition is most often due to:.
Breathlessness is an unpleasant sensation of uncomfortable, rapid or difficult breathing. People say they feel puffed, short of breath or winded. The medical term is dyspnoea.