It is normal to breath hard with vigorous exercise or activity. In medical practice, the complaint “short(ness) of breath” can be simply defined as an abnormal amount of breathlessness for a given level of activity. The medical term for short of breath (SOB) is dyspnea. SOB or dyspnea can be caused from several broad types of problems:
- Lung Diseases, a very broad category includes the following conditions:
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Pneumonia or other lung infections
- Lung cancer
- Pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lung)
- Pleural effusions (fluid around the outside of the lung)
- Obesity/deconditioning, the medical term for stating someone is overweight and out of shape. This situation may be the primary cause of perceived SOB in an individual, but it is often combined with other conditions outlined here to compound the SOB problem.
- Heart disease, a particular concern among older individuals, and especially in current or ex-smokers since tobacco abuse is a well-recognized cause of both lung and heart diseases.
- Anemia, a common condition referring to a low red blood cell count, will cause SOB depending on the degree of anemia.
- Diseases or conditions causing fatigue and malaise, in which an individual may feel that an inability to perform normal activities is caused by SOB is in reality caused by overwhelming fatigue. One of the more common conditions we see at SEC Lung that falls in this category is obstructive sleep apnea.
For individuals undergoing an initial evaluation for SOB at SEC Lung, we carefully evaluate your symptoms, perform a physical examination and Lung Function Tests, and review recent chest xrays in order to identify the cause of SOB. Once the cause is identified, we develop a treatment plan that will address the SOB.