Tests To Diagnose The Cause Of Shortness Of Breath
Dyspnea has many causes, which can make it difficult to find a diagnosis. To determine what might be causing your shortness of breath, your healthcare provider may recommend/perform one of these tests:
- Noninvasive cardiopulmonary exercise testing: This testing requires using catheters during exerciseusually stationary cycling or running on a treadmill to assess how the body is utilizing oxygen, and to measure heart and lung function. This type of advanced testing is not available in all hospitals, but it is the gold standard method to determine the cause of your shortness of breat.
- Electrocardiogram : Detecting abnormalities on an ECGa test involving attaching small electrodes to your chest to measure electrical impulses of the heartis helpful in diagnosing cardiac causes of shortness of breath. Common heart conditions that may be detected by ECG include arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, cardiac tamponade, and cardiomyopathy.
- Chest X-ray: This is helpful to identify obstructions or blockages and anatomical abnormalities that may cause shortness of breath.
- Pulmonary function testing : A group or series of noninvasive tests that show how well air is moving in and out of the lungs and how well oxygen is being transferred from the lungs to the blood by measuring lung volume, capacity, rates of flow, and gas exchange.
When To Go To The Hospital
You need to seek emergency treatment if you have any of these symptoms:
Chest pain should always be considered a serious symptom because it can indicate an emergency situation. If you’re experiencing chest pain and any of these factors apply to you, you should seek emergency care:
- You have a strong family history of early heart disease.
- You’re 45 years old or older and you have any of the risk factors for coronary artery disease, including obesity, smoking, family history, diabetes, high cholesterol, or a sedentary lifestyle.
- The pain is worse than any other chest pain you’ve had.
- The pain feels like it’s spreading to your neck, shoulders, upper abdomen, arms, back, or jaws.
- The pain is crushing, tight, heavy, or feels like squeezing.
- You also feel nauseous, fatigued, weak, short of breath, dizzy, sweaty, or you’ve fainted.
- You feel like something is very wrong.
- The pain keeps getting worse as the minutes pass.
- The pain is unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
Heart Attack Symptoms
If you have symptoms of a heart attack, be sure to seek emergency medical care. These symptoms include:
- Chest or arm pain, pressure, or discomfort that may spread to your neck, back, or jaw
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness and loss of coordination
- Difficulty breathing
If you’re with a loved one and suspect he or she is having a stroke, use these measures to help you determine if there’s a problem:
Sudden Cardiac Arrest
- Collapsing suddenly
When To Call Your Doctor
Seek medical care if you experience the following symptoms:
- Increased water retention with swelling of the legs, face, or hands
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Sudden fatigue or marked changes in energy levels
- Easy bruising
- Persistent or recurrent dizziness and lightheadedness
While these symptoms can be caused by any number of medical conditions, none should be considered normal. It is important to have them checked out.
On the other hand, you should seek immediate emergency care if you experience any of the following:
- Changes in the level of consciousness, including extreme sleepiness, difficulty waking up, or fainting
- Chest pain
Recommended Reading: Rotary Bending Fatigue Testing Machine
You May Like: What Is The Best Anti Fatigue Kitchen Mat
What You Should Do During A Heart Attack
If you think you are having a heart attack, you or someone nearby should call emergency services immediately. Its unsafe to drive yourself to the hospital during a heart attack, so call an ambulance. While you may feel awake and alert enough to drive, the chest pain could get so severe that you may have trouble breathing or difficulty thinking clearly.
Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing Can Help Reveal Unusual Reasons For These Common Symptoms And Also Shed Light On Long Covid
One of the vexing things about certain common health complaints is the range of possible underlying causes. For example, feeling short of breath is perfectly normal after a burst of vigorous exercise. But for some people, even mild exertion can trigger a sensation of breathlessness, or what doctors call dyspnea. Its often accompanied by symptoms such as fatigue and lightheadedness.
Most of the time, heart or lung issues are to blame. In many cases, routine tests including a chest x-ray, echocardiogram , lung function tests, and blood tests can uncover the underlying reason for a persons breathlessness.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
- Research health conditions
- Prepare for a doctors visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
You May Like: Can Fatigue Be A Sign Of Cancer
Don’t Miss: Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Fatigue
High Or Persistent Fever
The big worries: Fever is your bodys way of fighting infection. But fever of 103 degrees and higher warrants a trip to the doctor period, says David Bronson, M.D., president of the American College of Physicians. It may indicate a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, endocarditis or meningitis, which may require antibiotics to clear up. A persistent low-grade fever for several weeks with no obvious cause is characteristic of some infections, including a sinus infection, and some cancers, like lymphoma and leukemia. Cancer is on the list of things we think about, but it is usually not the first thing, says Ronan Factora, M.D., a geriatrician at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
What else it might be: Fever can be triggered by a virus, which, depending on your health and other symptoms, may require hospitalization.
A Chest That Is Heavy & Tiredness With A Shortness Of Breath
With the advent of the Internet and ready access to medical information, both professional and lay, researching illnesses and their symptoms is just a few mouse clicks away. This easy availability of information sometimes makes for arm-chair doctors when the real thing is necessary. Its important to rationally review your symptoms and, if ever in doubt, seek medical advice.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
You May Like: Stomach Ache And Fatigue After Eating
An Inability To Do What You Were Able To Do Before
Defining this symptom can be somewhat difficult because its less a universal heart attack sign and more dependent on your individual experiences and baseline energy levels.
Its a significant change in your functional status, is how I would put it, says Dr. Cho. You were able to be on the treadmill 20 minutes, but now you can barely do 10 because you just feel so tired.
Anxiety And Panic Attack
Experiencing chest pain and shortness of breath is also a common observation in case of an anxiety attack, or a panic attack. If you have been going through a lot of stress, anxiety, or have experienced a panic attack lately, then this could justify as to why you have been experiencing the symptoms we are currently discussing. In fact, while most of us think of a heart problem while experiencing this symptom , the findings of the condition mostly point towards the stress that one is going through in their day-to-day life. So, make sure that you get yourself checked by a doctor and relax as much as you can.
You May Like: Reasons For Exhaustion And Fatigue
Woman 78 With Dyspnea Dry Cough And Fatigue
Natalie Orbach, PA-C
Natalie Orbach works in pulmonary medicine at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore and at a private primary care office in Lutherville, Maryland.
A 78-year-old woman presented to the emergency department complaining of shortness of breath, a dry nonproductive cough, fatigue, hypoxia, and general malaise lasting for several months and worsening over a two-week period. She denied having fever, chills, hemoptysis, weight loss, headache, rashes, or joint pain. She reported sweats, decrease in appetite, wheezing, cough without sputum production, and slight swelling of the legs. The patient complained of chest pain upon admission, but it resolved quickly.
The patient, a retired widow with five grown children, denied recent surgery or exposure to sick people, had not travelled, and reported no changes in her home environment. She claimed to have no pets but admitted to currently smoking about four cigarettes a day she had previously smoked, on average, three packs of cigarettes per day for 60 years. She denied using alcohol or drugs, including intravenous agents.
The patients medical history was significant for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. She had also been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , transient ischemic attack, patent foramen ovale, hyperlipidemia, seizure disorder, and hypothyroidism. She had no known HIV risk factors and had had no exposure to asbestos or tuberculosis.
Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack
Not all heart attacks are alike
Did you know that you can have a heart attack without feeling any chest pain? Heart failure and heart disease dont show the same signs for everyone, especially women.
The heart is a muscle that contracts to pump blood throughout the body. A heart attack occurs when the heart muscle doesnt get enough blood. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. When there isnt enough blood flowing to your heart muscle, the affected part can get damaged or die. This is dangerous and sometimes deadly.
Heart attacks happen suddenly, but they normally result from long-standing heart disease. Typically, a waxy plaque builds up on the walls inside your blood vessels that feed the heart muscle. Sometimes a chunk of the plaque, called a blood clot, breaks off and prevents blood from passing through the vessel to your heart muscle, resulting in a heart attack.
Less commonly, something like stress, physical exertion, or cold weather causes the blood vessel to contract or spasm, which decreases the amount of blood that can get to your heart muscle.
There are many risk factors that contribute to having a heart attack, including:
A heart attack is a medical emergency. Its really important to listen to what your body is telling you if you think you might be having one. Its better to seek emergency medical treatment and be wrong than to not get help when youre having a heart attack.
Don’t Miss: How To Reduce Mental Fatigue
What Causes Shortness Of Breath From Anxiety
Shortness of breath and other physical symptoms happen in the fight-or-flight response to protect you. With anxiety, you may not be running for your life. But your body still responds as if you are.
You experience chest tightening, shortness of breath, and faster breathing because your body is trying to get more oxygen to your muscles, preparing you to run. Your heart rate increases and you may feel hot as more blood pumps to your muscles, preparing you to fight.
All of these symptoms are normal body responses designed to save your life.
Of course, you probably arent often running or fighting for your life from wild bear attacks or men with chain saws. But your body still reacts to your trip to the crowded grocery store, your work presentation, and other anxiety-provoking events as if you were.
Recommended Reading: Spit Test For Adrenal Fatigue
What Is Kidney Failure
Kidney failure, also known as end-stage kidney disease, occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to adequately remove waste from your blood and control the level of fluid in your body. Kidney failure can happen suddenly or gradually. People with kidney failure need dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive.
If you have kidney disease, it does not mean that you will develop kidney failure. One in ten Australians aged 18 and over has at least one sign of chronic kidney disease, and over 23,000 Australians receive dialysis or a kidney transplant for kidney failure.
You can lose up to 90 per cent of your kidney function before experiencing symptoms. In many cases, the signs of disease arent noticed until the kidneys are close to failure.
Recommended Reading: Can Fatigue Cause Shortness Of Breath
When Should You Call 911 For A Heart Problem
At certain times, calling 911 right away is a must. If youre having chest pressure or chest tightness that started that day, you should not wait to go to your general practitioner, says Dr. Cho. Go to the emergency room.
You should also call 911 and get help right away if you have chest pain or discomfort along with any of the following symptoms, especially if they last longer than five minutes:
- Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including the arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
- Sweating or cold sweat.
- Light-headedness, dizziness, extreme weakness or anxiety.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats.
He Noticed He Was Breathless At Night And Went To See His Doctor
Nobody told me that, well I was told that every time I had a heart attack the muscles in my heart died a little or were damaged, and that they wouldn’t recover at that time and up to the present time there is no recovery, although they’re working on it! And…the consultant, no not the consultant, the surgeon that actually did the thing said that he didn’t think he would get rid of my breathlessness completely with this but it should do me. It should prevent any more heart attacks coming and should look after me for… I think approximately 10 years. And that was that. I had a triple bypass and I had a nurse come and take out the stitches and see me here, and then she went ill and I never saw anybody again for about 7′ years. When I started getting very alarmingly puffy, and especially alarming was getting breathless lying down in bed and I thought well this is not right, this is something wrong. And… it was then I went down to the local doctor and it was an emergency appointment so it was a lady doctor, who was very good, and she decided to send me for a scan in the the hospital. And there was an Irish lady doctor there, who had a good look at everything and said there hadn’t been any great deterioration in my heart, but it might be a good thing to see the consultant.
Also Check: Can Dry Eyes Cause Fatigue
When To Phone A Doctor
You should phone your GP immediately if you have sudden unexpected shortness of breath, as there may be a problem with your airways or heart.
Your GP will assess you over the phone, and may either visit you at home or admit you to hospital. If your shortness of breath is mild or the result of anxiety, you may be asked to come to the surgery rather than a home visit.
If youve struggled with your breathing for a while, dont ignore it. See your GP as its likely you have a long-term condition, such as obesity, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , which needs to be managed properly.
Your doctor may ask you some questions, such as:
- Did the breathlessness come on suddenly or gradually?
- Did anything trigger it, such as exercise?
- How bad is it? Does it only happen when youve been active, or when youre not doing anything?
- Is there any pain when you breathe?
- Do you have a cough?
- Do certain positions make it worse for example, are you unable to lie down?
Feeling like you cant get enough air can be terrifying, but doctors are well trained in managing this. You may be given extra oxygen to breathe if this is needed.
What Medical Conditions Cause Fatigue
Hundreds of conditions and disorders lead to fatigue. Some of the most common causes of fatigue include:
- Disease and infection: Cancer, kidney disease and multiple sclerosis are just a few diseases that cause fatigue. Fatigue can also be a sign of infections such as mononucleosis, HIV and flu.
- Mental health conditions: Fatigue from depression or anxiety may make it difficult or impossible to perform daily activities.
- Autoimmune disorders: Fatigue is a symptom of many autoimmune diseases, including diabetes, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Hormonal imbalances: Problems with your endocrine system can lead to exhaustion. Hypothyroidism is a common cause of fatigue.
- Heart and lung problems: Fatigue is a common symptom of cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome , chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , emphysema and congestive heart failure.
- Deficiencies:Anemia and other vitamin deficiencies are often responsible for fatigue. Dehydration can cause fatigue because the body needs plenty of fluids to function.
- Weight problems and eating disorders:Anorexia, bulimia, obesity or being underweight can lead to fatigue and a range of other symptoms.
Don’t Miss: Adrenal Fatigue The 21st Century Syndrome
Food Allergies Food Intolerance And Fatigue
Symptoms: Fatigue, sleepiness, continued exhaustion
Although food is supposed to give you energy, medical research suggests that hidden food intolerances or allergies can do the opposite. In fact, fatigue may be an early warning sign of food intolerance or food allergy. Celiac disease, which happens when you cant digest gluten, may also cause fatigue.
Ask your doctor about the elimination diet. This is a diet in which you cut out certain foods linked to a variety of symptoms, including sleepiness within 10 to 30 minutes of eating them, for a certain period of time to see if that makes a difference. You can also talk to your doctor about a food allergy test or invest in a home test such as ALCAT which may help you identify the offending foods.
Dont Miss: Labs To Check For Fatigue