Learn More About the Causes of and Treatments for Difficulty Breathing

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Every day, people suffer from scary symptoms that can be serious or can be common but scary. People who suffer from a difficulty breathing can go to their primary care doctor, to urgent care clinics, and emergency rooms all over the country. It is one of the most common reasons for emergency room visits in the United States. Everyday Health has taken a look at this problem and what it can mean.

According to their experts, the problem of difficulty breathing can be very scary. The thing is that it can also be a common symptom and can mean a lot of things.

The sensation itself also called a shortness of breath, is basically the feeling that it takes more energy and work to get the breath in and out. This problem also goes by the name dyspnea and people have described this as a tightness in the chest. At its worst, people can start to panic. It can feel like the people who are suffering from this are actually suffocating.

When this happens more often and is considered to be a more chronic problem, it can be often a secondary problem to obesity. Chronic breathing difficulty can be caused by lung disease or heart disease. There are a number of people who experience this every day. It has been estimated that about 25% of the people in the United States suffer from this on a daily basis. People who are suffering from this also experience an increased heart rate, wheezing, gasping for air, and some experience cyanosis. That is when a lack of oxygen causes the feet and hands can start to turn blue.

Going to a high altitude is a common cause of difficulty breathing. This is because the pressure is lower and that makes the amount of oxygen available to the body to decrease. Typically, people can experience this at heights greater than 4,000 feet. People who suffer from altitude sickness also complain of nausea, headaches, and light-headedness.

For people who have no underlying medical problem that would cause difficulty breathing, the experience can be very scary. The best thing to do is do whatever you can to remain calm until you can find the reason for your problem. If you have this more than once, it is a good idea to keep a journal so that you can see if there is a pattern. Allergens and pollutants can cause it. If you cannot determine the cause, it is worth it to head to the local emergency room.

Here are some things that people with difficulty breathing should do:

  • Quit smoking. The damage that is done by smoking can be undone when people quit smoking. This can take some time but the lungs are resilient and can heal over time.
  • Keep the air in your home clean. It is important to clean your air filters to get allergens and toxins out of your air. This is especially true if you have asthma or allergies.
  • Get to a healthy weight. Obesity is another major cause of problems breathing. If you can get to a healthy weight, it will help your breathing.
  • Pay attention to your health. If you have underlying, chronic medical problems, take care of them.
  • Talk to your doctor. If you have a problem that leads you to have a hard time breathing, talk to your doctor about medications that can help.
  • Pay attention to altitude. If you go to a place where you have never been and it is at 4,000 feet or higher, give yourself some time to acclimate. If you are going to be much higher than that, talk to your doctor about getting Diamox, this is a medication that can help your body get used to the higher altitude. If you are at a higher altitude and develop a headache that will not go away with over the counter medications, go to a lower elevation.
  • Take care of your supplemental oxygen equipment. If you need to use it, you need to take care of it. Keep everything clean and make sure you have everything that you need to keep it running.

A sudden attack of shortness of breath can be scary but it can also be easily treated.

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