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 a sign of a number of conditions. Many of the conditions are serious and some are medical emergencies.
- Cardiovascular conditions: Heart attack, heart failure, coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems, 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