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Shortness Of Breath - Should I Be Worried?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Mool Chand Gupta 93% (36921 ratings)
MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad  •  44 years experience
Shortness Of Breath - Should I Be Worried?

When you experience shortness of breath for no reason, you might wonder if there is something to worry. Breathing difficulty (dyspnea) affects around 1 in every 10 adults. The causes are varied, and just like other health problems like dizziness, fatigue, and abdominal pain, shortness of breath too has several causes. While a few are harmless, a few may be the signs of a possible complication. Though a common complaint in adults, it is a tough diagnostic challenge. Being aware of the symptoms will take you a step further in deciding whether or not the breathing difficulty is a cause of concern.


  • In older people: If you are an older person, then your breathing problems will most likely be associated with a heart or lung disease such as COPD, pneumonia, and heart failure. Other causes include a stroke and cancer. It is advised to consult a doctor if you are experiencing serious breathing problems since the past few days and more so if you see other symptoms. Symptoms to worry about are pain or trouble staying upright.
  • In the young: The common causes of shortness of breath in younger people are usually minor and partially treatable. Shortness of breath may occur due to myofascial pain syndrome. This is a condition in which trigger points or muscle knots occur in the respiratory muscles. Other causes are pneumonia and bad respiratory habits and/or weak breathing muscles.
  • Stress can be the cause: Another common cause of shortness of breath in teenagers and working professionals is anxiety. This is a very significant cause and should be taken seriously because this may not necessarily be a minor problem. Its diagnosis is still reassuring when compared to other medical problems since this can be worked upon with a few techniques.

Should you worry or not?

  • When the breathing difficulty is caused due to an acute condition like pneumonia or a chronic condition like asthma, treating the cause is imperative. Because, when the cause is treated, the episodes of shortness of breath is reduced.
  • Any patient suffering from any one or more of the problems mentioned above can still take a sigh of relief as remedies are available. Various pressure point massages can be performed with proper technique to ease out the trigger points when you are suffering from muscle knots.
  • When it comes to bad breathing habits, old habits die hard. Although changing your bad breathing habits may seem frustrating at first, it is relatively easier to achieve this if taken up with the mentality of achieving a goal. If regular breathing exercises are performed, respiratory strength can be increased. Moreover, breathing correctly has many long-term benefits as well.
  • Anxiety is more of a mind over body kind of thing. Although it may seem tough to overcome, determined and head strong people can find relief if they try.

Ensuring safety first
If you are wondering about whether your condition is serious or not, it is advised to tell your doctor about any persisting symptom. If you have developed any new symptoms such as a chronic wheeze or a cough, fatigue and pale appearance, dry, painful cough and shortness of breath during physical activity, then these are slow and sneaky indicators of an onset of some serious medical problem.

Thus, breathing difficulty occurring often is a reason to worry, and you must seek medical advice at the earliest.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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