Shortness of breath has many causes affecting either the breathing passages and lungs or the heart or blood vessels. An average 150-pound (70 kilogram) adult will breathe at an average rate of 14 breaths per minute at rest. Excessively rapid breathing is referred to as hyperventilation. Shortness of breath is also referred to as dyspnea.
Doctors will further classify dyspnea as either occurring at rest or being associated with activity, exertion, or exercise. They will also want to know if the dyspnea occurs gradually or all of a sudden. Each of these symptoms help to detect the precise cause of the shortness of breath.
Causes of shortness of breath include asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, pneumothorax, anemia, lung cancer, inhalation injury, pulmonary embolism, anxiety, COPD, high altitude with lower oxygen levels, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, subglottic stenosis, interstitial lung disease, obesity, tuberculosis, epiglottitis, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary artery hypertension, pleurisy, croup, polymyositis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, sarcoidosis, rib fracture, carbon monoxide poisoning, and aerobic exercise.
Shortness of breath can be associated with symptoms of
- bloody sputum,
- chest injury,
- chest pain,
- chest tightness,
- heart palpitations,
- labored breathing,
- neck pain,
- pain with inspiration (pleurisy),
- rapid, shallow breathing, and
Other causes of shortness of breath
- Chest Wall & Chest Muscle Diseases
Numerous diseases of muscles and the nervous system can lead to shortness of breath by weakening the body's capacity for opening the lungs up for respiration. Examples of muscle diseases include muscular dystrophy. Nervous system diseases, such as paralysis, can lead to shortness of breath.
- Heart Diseases
Many conditions that affect the heart and its capacity to move blood through the lungs can lead to shortness of breath. These conditions include valve diseases of the heart and others.
- Lung Tissue Diseases
There are a vast number of lung tissue diseases ranging from common and temporary, to uncommon and chronic. These include infections (pneumonia, acute bronchitis from bacteria, viruses, etc.), cancers that have spread to the lung, chemical and radiation toxicity to the lung (including radiation therapy), occupational toxicities (such as minerals from mines), hemosiderosis, fungus infections (coccidiomycosis, blastomycosis, aspergillosis), allergic reactions, drug toxicity, connective tissue diseases, and many others.
- Obstructions to Airflow
Obstruction to airflow can occur anywhere along the passageway that the air we breathe takes from entering the nose and mouth, through the trachea (windpipe in our throats), through the bronchial tubes and tiny airways in the lungs. Sudden blockage of airways is a medical emergency and can be caused by inhaling objects, food particles or fluids.
- Other Causes
Acidosis, such as from salicylate (aspirin) poisoning. Low oxygen environment, such as at high altitudes.
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Am I Having a Heart Attack? Symptoms of Heart Disease
Heart attacks symptoms vary greatly for men and women, from anxiety and fatigue to nausea and sweating. Learn the warning signs...
Asthma Attack Signs, Treatments, and Prevention
Look at the anatomy of an asthma attack. See these warning signs and symptoms to avoid an asthma emergency such as a persistent...
Asthma Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways of the lungs, which can be managed with proper treatment. Triggered by two main...
Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Learn the causes, symptoms, and treatments of the common heart abnormality known as atrial fibrillation (A-fib).
Atrial Fibrillation: Heart Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Afib Treatment
Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm. Atrial fibrillation or AF can lead to serious heart...
Bronchitis Symptoms and Treatments
Is bronchitis contagious? Learn about bronchitis, an inflammation of the lining of the lungs. Bronchitis can be aggravated from...
Effects of Secondhand Smoke: Facts
The effects of secondhand smoke can be hazardous to your health. Secondhand smoke can lead to lung cancer, heart disease, and...
Heart Disease Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Take our Heart Disease Quiz to get answers and facts about high cholesterol, atherosclerosis prevention, and the causes,...
Heart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes
What is heart disease (coronary artery disease)? Learn about the causes of heart disease. Symptoms of heart disease include chest...
Managing Severe Allergies at School
Learn how to manage and be prepared for severe allergies at school. Discover how to protect you child from food allergies, insect...
Nasal Allergy Attack: Causes, Triggers, Treatments
What causes allergies? What are your allergy triggers? Discover how allergies work, why our bodies react to them, whether...
Out-of-Control Allergy Symptoms: Treatment Relief in Pictures
Learn 10 signs your allergies are out of control. See these surprising allergy symptoms and find out how to get relief for...
Panic Attacks (Panic Disorder) Quiz: Test Your Mental Health IQ
Could you suffer a panic attack? Take this Panic Attacks Quiz to learn causes, symptoms, and treatments for panic disorder. Use...
Smoking Quiz: How to Quit Smoking
You know it's time you quit smoking. Learn the myths and facts about quitting smoking with the Smoking Quiz. When it comes to...
What Is Asthma? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
What is asthma? Learn information about asthma, a chronic disease of the bronchiole tubes. Discover information about asthma...
Causes of Shortness of Breath
12 Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Symptoms, Stages, Causes, and Life Expectancy
Congestive heart failure (CHF) refers to a condition in which the heart loses the ability to function properly. Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, myocarditis, and cardiomyopathies are just a few potential causes of congestive heart failure. Signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure may include fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations, angina, and edema. Physical examination, patient history, blood tests, and imaging tests are used to diagnose congestive heart failure. Treatment of heart failure consists of lifestyle modification and taking medications to decrease fluid in the body and ease the strain on the heart. The prognosis of a patient with congestive heart failure depends on the stage of the heart failure and the overall condition of the individual.
Adenovirus 14 (Killer Cold Virus)
Adenovirus infection, particularly Ad14, or the "killer cold virus" has been on the increase in the past two years. Symptoms range from those experienced with colds, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, pinkeye, fever, bladder infection, and neurological conditions. Diagnosis and treatment options need to be discussed with your physician.
An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. When these allergens come in contact with the body, it causes the immune system to develop an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to it. It is estimated that 50 million North Americans are affected by allergic conditions. The parts of the body that are prone to react to allergies include the eyes, nose, lungs, skin, and stomach. Common allergic disorders include hay fever, asthma, allergic eyes, allergic eczema, hives, and allergic shock.
ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Symptoms, Causes, Life Expectancy
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease) is a neurological disease that progresses rapidly. The disease attacks the nerve cells responsible for the control of voluntary muscles. Early symptoms include cramping, twitching, or stiffness of the muscles; slurred nasal speech; difficulty swallowing or chewing, and muscle weakness in an arm or leg. Currently, the cause of ALS is not known. ALS is a fatal disease. No cure has been found for ALS, however, the drug riluzole (Rilutek) is FDA approved, and this drug reduces the damage to motor neurons by decreasing the release of glutamate.
Amyloidosis is a group of diseases resulting from abnormal deposition of certain proteins (amyloids) in various bodily areas. The amyloid proteins may either be deposited in one particular area of the body (localized amyloidosis) or they may be deposited throughout the body (systemic amyloidosis). There are three types of systemic amyloidosis: primary (AL), secondary (AA), and familial (ATTR). Primary amyloidosis is not associated with any other diseases and is considered a disease entity of its own. Secondary amyloidosis occurs as a result of another illness. Familial Mediterranean Fever is a form of familial (inherited) amyloidosis. Amyloidosis treatment involves treating the underlying illness and correcting organ failure.
Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that affects a number of different areas of the body at one time, and can be fatal. Causes of anaphylaxis can be food allergy, latex allergy, allergy to insect or but stings/bites, asthma, or other materials or conditions. Symptoms include flushing, itching, hives, anxiety, rapid or irregular pulse. Severe symptoms may be throat and tongue swelling, swallowing, and difficulty breathing. Some disorders appear similar to anaphylaxis such as fainting, panic attacks, blood clots in the lungs, heart attacks, and septic shock. If you think that you may be having an anaphylactic reaction, seek emergency care or call 911 immediately.
Anemia is the condition of having less than the normal number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. The oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is, therefore, decreased. There are several types of anemia such as iron deficiency anemia (the most common type), sickle cell anemia, vitamin B12 anemia, pernicious anemia, and aplastic anemia. Symptoms of anemia may include fatigue, malaise, hair loss, palpitations, menstruation, and medications. Treatment for anemia includes treating the underlying cause for the condition. Iron supplements, vitamin B12 injections, and certain medications may also be necessary.
Angina (Symptoms, Causes, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment)
Angina is chest pain due to inadequate blood supply to the heart. Angina symptoms may include chest tightness, burning, squeezing, and aching. Coronary artery disease is the main cause of angina but there are other causes. Angina is diagnosed by taking the patient's medical history and performing tests such as an electrocardiogram (EKG), blood test, stress test, echocardiogram, cardiac CT scan, and heart catheterization. Treatment of angina usually includes lifestyle modification, medication, and sometimes, surgery. The risk of angina can be reduced by following a heart healthy lifestyle.
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems, and irritability. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. Treatment for anxiety may incorporate medications and psychotherapy.
Aortic dissection is a small tear in the large blood vessel that leads from the heart and supplies blood to the body. There are two types of aortic dissection, type 1 and type 2. Signs and symptoms of aortic dissection include a tearing or ripping pain, nausea, sweating, weakness, shortness of breath, sweating, or fainting. Treatment depends on the type of aortic dissection, and the severity of the tear in the aorta.
Aortic Valve Stenosis (Symptoms, Causes, Surgery)
Aortic valve stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the aortic valve of the heart. The causes of aortic stenosis are wear and tear of the valve in the elderly, congenital, or scarring or scarring of the aortic valve from rheumatic fever. Symptoms include angina, fainting, and shortness of breath. Treatment is dependant upon the severity of the condition.
Asthma is a condition in which hyperreactive airways constrict and result in symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Causes of asthma include genetics, environmental factors, personal history of allergies, and other factors. Asthma is diagnosed by a physician based on a patient's family history and results from lung function tests and other exams. Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) and long-acting bronchodilators (LABAs) are used in the treatment of asthma. Generally, the prognosis for a patient with asthma is good. Exposure to allergens found on farms may protect against asthma symptoms.
Asthma in Children
Asthma in children manifests with symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. Rates of asthma in children are increasing. Asthma in children is usually diagnosed based on the description of symptoms. Lung function tests may also be used. A variety of medications are used for the treatment of childhood asthma.
Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Treatment Drugs
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a heart rhythm disorder that causes irregular and often rapid heartbeat. The medications to treat AFib include beta-blockers, blood thinners, and heart rhythm drugs. Atrial fibrillation drugs can cause serious side effects like seizures, vision changes, shortness of breath, fainting, other abnormal heart rhythms, excessive bleeding while coughing or vomiting, blood in the stool, and bleeding into the brain.
Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms (AFib Warning Signs)
Atrial fibrillation or AFib is a type of hear rhythm abnormality. Early warning signs and symptoms of atrial fibrillation include chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness. Treatment for atrial fibrillation includes medical procedures, surgery, and medication.
Atrial Fibrillation vs. Ventricular Fibrillation (AFib vs VFib Symptoms, ECG Strips)
Atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) is an abnormality in the heart rhythm which involves irregular and often rapid beating of the heart. Symptoms may include heart palpitations, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Atrial fibrillation treatment may include medication or procedures like cardioversion or ablation to normalize the heart rate. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) and ventricular fibrillation (VFib) are problems with the heart that cause abnormal heart rhythms. Causes of these heart conditions include, heart disease, drugs and medications, excessive alcohol consumption, high cholesterol, advancing age, a diet that contains high levels of animal meat (fat), high blood pressure, stress, stimulants like caffeine, nicotine. Ventricular fibrillation is the more serious of the conditions because if it isn't treated immediately the person will likely die. Symptoms of AFib are confusion, anxiety, fatigue, a fluttering in the chest, and the feeling that you may pass out or faint. Atrial fibrillation is treated with medications, cardioversion therapy, and surgery. If a person with ventricular fibrillation does not seek medical help immediately they will mostly likely suffer from sudden cardiac arrest or sudden death.
Atrial Flutter vs. Atrial Fibrillation (What Are the Differences?)
Atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation (AFib) are two types of a heart problem called atrial tachycardia. Both of these conditions involve the heart's electrical activity, but they are not the same disease. Both diseases are serious and need medical treatment. Common symptoms of these diseases are similar and include: Fatigue Blurry vision Lightheadedness Palpitations Feeling like you may faint Serious symptoms of both conditions are similar and include: Fainting Sweating Severe shortness of breath Chest pain Atrial flutter and AFib are heart conditions that require medical diagnosis (ECG) and treatment by a doctor or other medical health-care professional.
Botulism is an illness caused by a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are three types of botulism: food-borne, wound, and infant. Symptoms include muscle paralysis, dry mouth, constipation, slurred speech, and blurred vision. If food-borne and wound botulism are detected early enough, they may be treated with an antitoxin. Infant botulism is treated intravenously with BabyBIG (Botulism Immune Globulin).
Bronchiectasis has three types, 1) cylindrical bronchiectasis, 2) saccular or varicose bronchiectasis, and 3) cystic bronchiectasis. Causes of bronchiectasis includeinfection, environmental exposure, drug or alcohol abuse, and alpha-1 antitrypsin (congenital). Symptoms of bronchiectasis include shortness of breath, fatigue, chronic cough, bloody sputum, and wheezing. Treatment for bronchiectasis include antibiotics and possibly surgery.
Bronchitis (Acute) Contagoius Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Recovery Time
Bronchitis is inflammation of the airways in the lung. Acute bronchitis is is short in duration (10 to 20 days) in comparison with chronic bronchitis, which lasts for months to years. Causes of acute bronchitis include viruses and bacteria, which means it can be contagious. Acute bronchitis caused by environmental factors such as pollution or cigarette smoke is not contagious. Common symptoms for acute bronchitis include nasal congestion, cough, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue. Acute bronchitis in children also my include runny nose, fever, and chest pain. Treatment for acute bronchitis are OTC pain relievers, cough suppressants (although not recommended in children), and rest. Infrequently antibiotics may be prescribed to treat acute bronchitis.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a condition where the heart's ability to pump blood is decreased because the heart's main pumping chamber is enlarged and weakened. Symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy include chest pain, heart failure, swelling of the lower extremities, fatigue, weight gain, fainting, palpitations, dizziness and blood clots.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy, the rarest form of cardiomyopathy, is a condition in which the walls of the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) are abnormally rigid and lack the flexibility to expand as the ventricles fill with blood. The pumping or systolic function of the ventricle may be normal but the diastolic function (the ability of the heart to fill with blood) is abnormal. Therefore, it is harder for the ventricles to fill with blood, and with time, the heart loses the ability to pump blood properly, leading to heart failure.
Chagas Disease (American Trypanosomiasis or Kissing Bug Disease)
Chagas disease is an infection caused by the T. cruzi parasite. Symptoms of Chagas disease include rash, swollen lymph nodes, fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and the Romaña sign. An ELISA test is used to diagnose Chagas disease. Treatment depends upon the phase of the disease and the patient's age.
Chest pain is a common complaint by a patient in the ER. Causes of chest pain include broken or bruised ribs, pleurisy, pneumothorax, shingles, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, angina, heart attack, costochondritis, pericarditis, aorta or aortic dissection, and reflux esophagitis. Diagnosis and treatment of chest pain depends upon the cause and clinical presentation of the patient's chest pain.
Chronic Bronchitis (Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Remedies)
Chronic bronchitis is a cough that occurs daily with production of sputum that lasts for at least three months, two years in a row. Causes of chronic bronchitis include cigarette smoking, inhaled irritants, and underlying disease processes (such as asthma, or congestive heart failure). Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Treatments include bronchodilators and steroids. Complications of chronic bronchitis include COPD and emphysema.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or SEID)
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) is a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that lasts six months or longer, is not improved by bed rest, and may be worsened by physical or mental activity.
Colon cancer (bowel cancer) is a malignancy that arises from the inner lining of the colon. Most, if not all, of these cancers develop from colonic polyps. Removal of these precancerous polyps can prevent colon cancer.
COPD vs. Emphysema
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the term doctors and other healthcare professionals use to describe a group of serious, progressive (worsens over time), chronic lung diseases that include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and sometimes asthma. The number one cause of COPD or emphysema, is smoking, and smoking is the third leading cause of death in the US.
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are referred to as type 1 (insulin dependent) and type 2 (non-insulin dependent). Symptoms of diabetes include increased urine output, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. Treatment of diabetes depends on the type.
Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Signs
Pregnancy symptoms can vary from woman to woman, and not all women experience the same symptoms. When women do experience pregnancy symptoms they may include symptoms include missed menstrual period, mood changes, headaches, lower back pain, fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, and heartburn. Signs and symptoms in late pregnancy include leg swelling and shortness of breath. Options for relief of pregnancy symptoms include exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes.
Emphysema is a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) that often occurs with other obstructive pulmonary problems and chronic bronchitis. Causes of emphysema include chronic cigarette smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, and in the underdeveloped parts of the world. Symptoms of emphysema include chronic cough, chest discomfort, breathlessness, and wheezing. Treatments include medication and lifestyle changes.
Enterovirus (Non-Polio Enterovirus Infection)
Non-polio enteroviruses cause a variety of infections, including aseptic meningitis, hand, foot, and mouth disease, herpangina, and the common cold. Symptoms and signs of enterovirus infection include hypoxia, eye pain, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fever. Treatment of non-polio enterovirus infection involves supportive care that reduces the symptoms and signs, as there are no antiviral medications approved for treatment.
Gallbladder Pain (Gall Bladder Pain)
Gallbladder pain (often misspelled "gall bladder") is generally produced by of five problems, biliary colic, cholecystitis, gallstones, and pancreatitis. Causes of gallbladder pain include intermittent blockage of ducts by gallstones or gallstone inflammation and/or sludge that also may involve irritation or infection of surrounding tissues, or when a bile duct is completely blocked. Treatment of gallbladder depends on the cause, which may include surgery.
Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD)
Graft versus host disease (GVHD) is a condition that happens when immune cells from transplanted donor tissue attack the recipient's tissues. Signs and symptoms of acute GVHD include enteritis, hepatitis, and dermatitis. Chronic GVHD symptoms and signs include rash, skin discoloration, dry mouth or eyes, jaundice, fatigue, and wheezing, among others. The standard of GVHD treatment is immunosuppressant medications.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a disease transmitted by rodents. Symptoms include fever and muscle pain. HPS can be prevented by sealing up rodent entry holes, trapping rats and mice with an appropriate snap trap, and cleaning up rodent food sources.
A heart attack happens when a blood clot completely obstructs a coronary artery supplying blood to the heart muscle. A heart attack can cause chest pain, heart failure, and electrical instability of the heart.
Heart Attack Treatment
A heart attack involves damage or death of part of the heart muscle due to a blood clot. The aim of heart attack treatment is to prevent or stop this damage to the heart muscle. Heart attack treatments included medications, procedures, and surgeries to protect the heart muscle against injury.
Hereditary Angioedema (HAE)
Hereditary angioedema or HAE is a genetic disease that causes swelling of the skin and tissues beneath it. Symptoms of HAE include shortness of breath, mood changes, laryngeal edema (a medical emergency), swelling of the hands and feet, muscle aches, and skin tingling. Treatment of HAE includes medication and avoidance of triggers.
Histoplasmosis (Cave Disease)
Histoplasmosis (cave disease) is a disease caused by a fungus called Histoplasma capsulatum. The symptoms are similar to those of pneumonia and include chest pain, fever, and sweats. Antifungal medications are used in treatment.
Hodgkin's disease is a cancer of the lymphatic system with symptoms that include unexplained, recurring fevers, unexplained weight loss, itchy skin, and painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, and groin. Treatment for adult Hodgkin's disease depends on the staging of the disease, the size of the lymph nodes, and the health of the patient.
Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis is an inflammation of the lung caused by small airborne particles such as bacteria, mold, fungi, or inorganic matter. There are two types of hypersensitivity pneumonitis, acute and chronic. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, body aches. Examples of hypersensitivity pneumonitis include bagassosis, mushroom worker's disease, sauna taker's disease, pigeon breeder's disease, and farmer's lung disease. Most commonly, it results from exposure to pet birds.
Hypothyroidism is any state in which thyroid hormone production is below normal. Normally, the rate of thyroid hormone production is controlled by the brain by the pituitary gland. Hypothyroidism is a very common condition and the symptoms of hypothyroidism are often subtle, but may include, constipation, memory loss, hair loss, and depression. There are a variety of causes of hypothyroidism, and treatment depends on the cause.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Life Expectancy)
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or IPF is a progressive lung disease. There is no known cause of IPF. Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, fatigue, mild fevers, muscle pain, clubbing fingers, and ankle swelling. Treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is directed at managing the signs and symptoms of the disease. The prognosis and life expectancy of idiopathic fibrosis is poor.
Internal bleeding occurs when an artery or vein is damaged and blood to escapes the circulatory system and collects inside the body. Internal bleeding can be caused by a variety of situations such as blunt trauma, deceleration trauma, medications, fractures, and spontaneous bleeding. Treatment of internal bleeding depends on the cause of the bleeding.
Interstitial Pneumonitis (Interstitial Lung Disease)
Interstitial lung disease refers to a variety of diseased that thicken the tissue between the lungs' air sacks. Viruses, bacteria, tobacco smoke, environmental factors, cancer, and heart or kidney failure can all cause interstitial lung disease. Shortness of breath, cough, and vascular problems are symptoms caused by interstitial lung disease, and their treatment depends on the underlying cause of the tissue thickening.
Is Pleurisy Contagious?
Pleurisy or pleuritis is an inflammation of the lining around the lungs. Some of the causes of pleurisy include TB, the flu, heart attack, some forms of arthritis, and lupus. The treatment for pleurisy is generally aimed at the underlying cause of pleurisy.
Is Pneumonia Contagious?
Pneumonia is inflammation of the lung usually caused by bacterial or viral infection (rarely, also by fungi) that causes the air sacs to fill with pus. If inflammation affects both lungs, the infection is termed double pneumonia. If it affects one lung, it is termed single pneumonia. If it affects only a certain lobe of a lung it's termed lobar pneumonia. Most pneumonias are caused by bacteria and viruses, but some pneumonias are caused by inhaling toxic chemicals that damage lung tissue.
Is Poison Ivy Contagious?
Poison ivy produces urushiol, an oily chemical, that causes an itchy, painful reddish rash in people who come in contact with the plant. The rash lasts for one to three weeks. People should seek medical care for poison ivy exposure if the resulting rash covers a large portion of the body, if the rash develops on the genitalia or face, or if there is swelling around the eyes or of the throat.
Is Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Contagious?
Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis is characterized by severe coughing fits and whooping sound produced during inhalation. The bacteria spreads via airborne droplets produced during sneezing or coughing. There is a whooping cough vaccine that is typically administered during childhood vaccinations.
Kidney (Renal) Failure
Kidney failure can occur from an acute event or a chronic condition or disease. Prerenal kidney failure is caused by blood loss, dehydration, or medication. Some of the renal causes of kidney failure include sepsis, medications, rhabdomyolysis, multiple myeloma, and acute glomerulonephritis. Post renal causes of kidney failure include bladder obstruction, prostate problems, tumors, or kidney stones.Treatment options included diet, medications, or dialysis.
Lung cancer kills more men and women than any other form of cancer. Eight out of 10 lung cancers are due to tobacco smoke. Lung cancers are classified as either small-cell or non-small-cell lung cancers.
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease. Lupus can cause disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and nervous system. When only the skin is involved, the condition is called discoid lupus. When internal organs are involved, the condition is called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Marfan syndrome is hereditary (genetic) condition affecting connective tissue. A person with Marfan syndrome may exhibit the following symptoms and characteristics: Dislocation of one or both lenses of the eye A protruding or indented breastbone Scoliosis Flat feet Aortic dilatation Dural ectasia (a problem with the sac surrounding the spinal cord) Stretch marks Hernia Collapsed lung Though there is no cure for Marfan syndrome, there are treatments that can minimize and sometimes prevent some complications.
MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)
MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) infection can be spread through respiratory secretions. Symptoms include fever, dry cough, and severe shortness of breath. Treatment focuses on supportive care.
Monkeypox is a viral disease that causes symptoms such as fever, sweating, and a rash with papules and pustules on the face and chest. PCR, ELISA, or Western blot tests are used to diagnose monkeypox. Treatment usually involves administering a smallpox vaccination, cidofovir, and possibly vaccinia immune globulin.
Mucormycosis (zygomycosis) is a fungal infection caused by Zygomycetes. Symptoms and signs include fever, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, bloody vomit, and possible altered mental status. Treatment usually involves debridement of infected tissue and antifungal drugs.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Life Expectancy
Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disorder in which brain and spinal cord nerve cells become demyelinated. This damage results in symptoms that may include numbness, weakness, vertigo, paralysis, and involuntary muscle contractions. Different forms of MS can follow variable courses from relatively benign to life-threatening. MS is treated with disease-modifying therapies. Some MS symptoms can be treated with medications.
Myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease. Varying degrees of weakness of the voluntary muscles of the body are the main characteristics. A defect in the transmission of nerve impulses of the muscles is the cause of myasthenia gravis. Myasthenic crisis is when the muscles that control breathing weaken, which requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include weakness of the eye muscles, facial expression, and difficulty swallowing. Treatment of myasthenia gravis includes medical therapies to control the symptoms of the disease.
Obesity is the state of being well above one's normal weight. A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are more than 20% over their ideal weight. That ideal weight must take into account the person's height, age, sex, and build.
Occupational asthma is a type of asthma caused by exposure to a substance in the workplace. Symptoms and signs include wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. The usual treatment for occupational asthma involves removal from exposure and the use of bronchodilators and inhaled anti-inflammatory medicines.
There are many types of ovarian cancer, epithelial carcinoma is the most common. Women with a family history of ovarian cancer have an increased risk of developing the disease. Some ovarian cancer symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and abnormal vaginal bleeding, however, they usually do not present until the disease has progressed. Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment.
Palpitations (Causes and Symptoms)
Palpitations are uncomfortable sensations of the heart beating hard, rapidly, or irregularly. Some types of palpitations are benign, while others are more serious. Palpitations are diagnosed by taking the patient history and by performing an EKG or heart monitoring along with blood tests. An electrophysiology study may also be performed. Treatment of palpitations may include lifestyle changes, medication, ablation, or implantation of a pacemaker. The prognosis if palpitations depends on the underlying cause.
About 1% to 2% of people in the U.S. have a peanut allergy. Symptoms and signs of a peanut allergy include rash, hives, redness, and itching. Severe reactions may cause difficulty breathing, nausea, decreased blood pressure, lightheadedness, and behavioral changes. People with a peanut allergy should carry an epinephrine auto-injector with them at all times.
Plague (Black Death)
Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. Transmission to humans occurs via fleas that have bitten infected rodents. There are three forms of plague that infect humans: bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic. Antibiotics are the standard treatment for plague.
Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Symptoms and signs include cough, fever, shortness of breath, and chills. Antibiotics treat pneumonia, and the choice of the antibiotic depends upon the cause of the infection.
Polymyositis is a disease of the muscle featuring inflammation of the muscle fibers. It results in weakness of the muscles which can be severe and when associated with skin rash, is referred to as dermatomyositis. Although the cause of this disease is unknown, diagnosis includes physical examination of muscle strength, blood tests for muscle enzymes, electrical tests of muscle and nerves, and conformation by a muscle biopsy. Treatment of polymyositis and dermatomyositis includes high doses of cortisone-related medications, immune suppression, and physical therapy.
Popcorn Lung (Bronchiolitis Obliterans Symptoms, Causes, Life Expectancy
Popcorn lung is a term for the lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans. Popcorn lung is caused by diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione, chemicals used when manufacturing flavorings for food certain products like popcorn, coffee. E-cigarettes also may cause popcorn lung. Diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione damage lung tissue that is irreversible. Symptoms of popcorn lung develop gradually over time. The main symptoms are chronic cough and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include night sweats, weight loss, and fever. Symptoms of severe exposure to diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione include inflammation of the skin, eyes, nose, and/or throat. Popcorn lung often resembles tobacco-related COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) so it often is difficult to diagnose. Lung biopsy and surgery may be necessary. There is no cure for popcorn lung. Life expectancy for a person with (bronchiolitis obliterans) depends upon how early the disease was diagnosed and level of exposure to diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione.
Pregnancy Planning (Tips)
Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes taking prenatal vitamins, eating healthy for you and your baby, disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections, avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby, how much weight gain is healthy exercise safety and pregnancy, travel during pregnancy.
Psoriatic arthritis is a disease that causes skin and joint inflammation. Symptoms and signs include painful, stiff, and swollen joints, tendinitis, and organ inflammation. Treatment involves anti-inflammatory medications and exercise.
Pulmonary edema (swelling or fluid in the lungs) can either be caused by cardiogenic causes (congestive heart failure, heart attacks, abnormal heart valves) or noncardiogenic causes such as: ARDS, kidney failure, high altitude, pneumothorax, pleural effusion, aspirin overdose, pulmonary embolism, and infections. The treatment of pulmonary edema depends on the cause of the condition.
Pulmonary Embolism (Blood Clot in the Lung)
A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a piece of a blood clot from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) breaks off and travels to an artery in the lung where it blocks the artery and damages the lung. The most common symptoms of a pulmonary embolism are shortness of breath, chest pain, and a rapid heart rate. Causes of pulmonary embolism include prolonged immobilization, certain medications, smoking, cancer, pregnancy, and surgery. Pulmonary embolism can cause death if not treated promptly.
Pulmonary fibrosis is scarring throughout the lungs. Pulmonary fibrosis can be caused by many conditions including chronic inflammatory processes, infections, environmental agents, exposure to ionizing radiation, chronic conditions, and certain medications. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, and diminished exercise tolerance. Treatment options are dependent on the type of pulmonary fibrosis; lung transplant and/or medications are options.
Pulmonary Hypertension (Symptoms, Treatment Medications, Life Expectancy)
Pulmonary hypertension is an increase pressure in the pulmonary arteries that carry blood from the lungs to the heart. The most common symptoms are fatigue and difficulty breathing. If the condition goes undiagnosed, more severe symptoms may occur, for example: Ankle swelling (edema) Heart palpitations Chest pain Dizziness Tiredness Decreased appetite Pain in the upper right side of the belly (abdomen) As pulmonary hypertension worsens, some people with the condition have difficulty performing any activities that require physical exertion. For example: Fainting (syncope) Lightheadedness, particularly during physical activity Swelling in the legs and ankles A bluish color to the lips and skin Researchers and doctors do not know what causes one type of pulmonary hypertension called idiopathic pulmonary hypertension. However, they do know that the can be caused diseases or condition you already have, for example, heart disease, high blood pressure, connective tissue disease, congenital heart disease, liver disease, pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs), COPD, and emphysema.People at risk of developing pulmonary hypertension are those who: Live at high altitudes Have a family history of the condition. Have diseases and conditions that may put them at risk of developing pulmonary hypertension Use illegal drugs like cocaine, and certain diet drugs. While there is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, it can be managed and treat it with drugs like diuretics, blood thinners, calcium channel blockers, and using supplemental oxygen to increase blood oxygen levels. The prognosis and life expectancy for a person with pulmonary hypertension depends upon the severity of their condition. REFERENCES: NIH. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "What is Pulmonary Hypertension?" Updated: Aug 2011 NIH. PubMed Health. "Pulmonary Hypertension (PH)." CDC. Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. "Pulmonary Hypertension Fact Sheet." Updated: Jul 22, 2014.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease. The 16 characteristic early RA signs and symptoms include the following. Anemia Both sides of the body affected (symmetric) Depression Fatigue Fever Joint deformity Joint pain Joint redness Joint stiffness Joint swelling Joint tenderness Joint warmth Limping Loss of joint function Loss of joint range of motion Many joints affected (polyarthritis)
Sarcoidosis, a disease resulting from chronic inflammation, causes small lumps (granulomas) to develop in a great range of body tissues and can appear in almost any body organ. However, sarcoidosis most often starts in the lungs or lymph nodes.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV. Symptoms include fever and shortness of breath. Patients with SARS often require oxygen and severe cases require mechanical ventilation.
Scoliosis causes an abnormal curvature of the spine. When the cause of scoliosis is unknown the disorder is described based on the age when the scoliosis develops (infantile, juvenile, or adolescent idiopathic scoliosis). In functional scoliosis, curvature develops due to a problem somewhere else in the body. With neuromuscular scoliosis, there is a problem when the bones of the spine are formed. Treatment typically involves observation, bracing, and surgery and is dependent upon the severity of the curvature.
Sepsis (blood poisoning) is a potentially deadly infection with signs and symptoms that include elevated heart rate, low or high temperature, rapid breathing and/or a white blood cell count that is too high or too low and has more than 10% band cells. Most cases of sepsis are caused by bacterial infections, and some cases are caused by fungal infections. Treatment requires hospitalization, IV antibiotics, and therapy to treat any organ dysfunction.
Sick Building Syndrome
Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) or also referred to as sick building syndrome or environmental illness is the name given by some to a condition in which various symptoms reportedly appear after a person has been exposed to any of a wide range of chemicals. The exposure may occur as a major event, such as a chemical spill, or from long-term contact with low-levels of chemicals, such as in an office with poor ventilation. As a result of exposure, people with MCS (Si ck Building Syndrome) develop sensitivity and have reactions to the chemicals even at levels most people can tolerate.
Smoking (How to Quit Smoking)
Smoking is an addiction. More than 430,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. from smoking related illnesses. Secondhand smoke or "passive smoke" also harm family members, coworkers, and others around smokers. There are a number of techniques available to assist people who want to quit smoking.
A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding (hemorrhagic). Symptoms of a stroke may include: weakness, numbness, double vision or vision loss, confusion, vertigo, difficulty speaking or understanding speech. A physical exam, imaging tests, neurological exam, and blood tests may be used to diagnose a stroke. Treatment may include administration of clot-busting drugs, supportive care, and in some instances, neurosurgery. The risk of stroke can be reduced by controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stopping smoking.
Novel H1N1 influenza A virus infection (swine flu) is an infection that generally is transferred from an infected pig to a human, however there have been reported cases where infection has occured with no contact with infected pigs. Symptoms of swine flu are "flu-like" and include fever, cough, and sore throat. Treatment is generally with the antibiotics oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza).
Thymoma is an uncommon cancer of the thymus gland. Many thymomas are asymptomatic. When symptoms do occur, they include chest pain, shortness of breath, and cough. Treatment of thymomas includes surgery, and sometimes, radiation and chemotherapy. The prognosis for thymoma is excellent when it is found in the early stages.
Ticks are known transmitters of disease to humans and animals. Tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Q fever, tularemia, babesiosis, and Southern tick-associated rash illness. Infected ticks spread disease once they've bitten a host, allowing the pathogens in their saliva and mouth get into the host's skin and blood. Tick bites are typically painless, but the site of the bite may later itch, burn, turn red, and feel painful. Individuals allergic to tick bites may develop a rash, swelling, shortness of breath, numbness, or paralysis. Tick bite treatment involves cleaning and applying antibiotic cream.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). Symptoms and signs of TB include bloody sputum, fever, cough, weight loss, and chest pain. Treatment depends upon the type of TB infection.
Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) is a disease caused by the inhalation of the Coccidioides immitis or C. posadasii fungus. Symptoms are flu-like and resolve over two to six weeks. Infection typically requires no treatment, though there are many antifungal drugs to treat valley fever.
Vasculitis (Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Types)
Vasculitis (arteritis, angiitis) is a general term for a group of uncommon diseases which feature inflammation of the blood vessels. Each form of vasculitis has its own characteristic pattern of symptoms. The diagnosis of vasculitis is definitively established after a biopsy of involved tissue demonstrates the pattern of blood vessel inflammation. Treatment is directed toward decreasing the inflammation of the arteries and improving the function of affected organs.
Williams syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects many parts of the body. Signs, symptoms, characteristics and features may include intellectual disability, learning problems, unique personality characteristics, distinctive facial features, and heart and blood vessel problems. Williams syndrome is a genetic condition that involves chromosome 7.
Examples of Medications for Shortness of Breath
- Advair Diskus, Advair HFA (fluticasone and salmeterol oral inhaler)
- albuterol (Ventolin, Proventil)
- albuterol and ipratropium inhaler (Combivent Respimat)
- beclomethasone dipropionate inhaler (Qvar)
- budesonide (oral inhalation, Pulmicort, Pulmicort Flexhaler)
- cromolyn, Nasalcrom, Gastrocrom (Intal, Opticrom are discontinued)
- fluticasone propionate oral inhaler (Flovent)
- ipratropium bromide inhaler (Atrovent)
- prednisone (Prednisone Intensol, Rayos) Corticosteroid
- salmeterol (Serevent)
- theophylline (Elixophyllin, Theo-24)
- triamcinolone acetonide inhaler, Azmacort
- zafirlukast (Accolate)
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter