COVID-19 can cause shortness of breath as a result of lung infection and damage. Other causes of shortness of breath include:
- Lung disease
- Heart disease
- Tuberculosis and related complications
- Anxiety or panic attack
- Pulmonary embolism
- Lung tumors
- Chest trauma
- Extreme temperatures
- Poor air quality
- Adverse effects of medications, such as beta-blockers
How is shortness of breath evaluated?
Causes of shortness of breath are diagnosed based on your symptoms and medical history.
How is the shortness of breath managed?
Shortness of breath is managed based on the underlying cause of the symptoms. Primary management is oxygen supplementation along with proper positioning.
- COVID-19: Management depends on the person’s oxygen saturation and the presence of comorbidities such as diabetes or hypertension. It may require oxygen supplementation, as well as antiviral medications (remdesivir) if needed.
- Infections: Causes need to be treated with appropriate antibiotics after blood culture tests confirm the causative agent and drug sensitivity. Viral bronchitis often heals on its own with supportive measures.
- Tuberculosis (TB): TB should be treated with an appropriate anti-TB drug regimen.
- Other causes: Depending on the cause, treatment may include bronchodilators, nebulization, management of embolisms, diuretics, physiotherapy, surgery, or medications such as:
- Beta-agonists (albuterol)
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
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