Shortness of breath — the feeling that you can’t get enough air — is extremely uncomfortable, indicates that something is wrong, and must be treated.
What to Do
- Call 911 or go to the emergency room, if the shortness of breath is sudden or severe, or is combined with chest pain.
- Call your healthcare provider, if you have episodes of shortness of breath after you exercise, if you wake up at night because it’s hard to breathe, if you have wheezing/coughing, or if you have a fever.
Shortness of breath can be caused by a number of health conditions. Many of the conditions are serious, and some are medical emergencies.
- Heart conditions: angina, coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, heart valve disease, irregular heart beat
- Vascular conditions: pulmonary embolism (clot that has moved from a blood vessel to the lungs), pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the arteries that supply the lungs)
- Lung conditions: lung disease, asthma, emphysema, interstitial lung disease (inflammation and scarring in the lungs), pneumonia
- Other conditions: allergies, obesity, inhaling a foreign object, panic attacks, acid reflux