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 you’ve struggled with your breathing for a while, don’t ignore it. See your GP as it’s 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 you’ve been active, or when you’re 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 can’t 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.
Is Pots More Common In Certain People
There are no established risk factors for POTS. However, it is known to run in families, so it could have a genetic component. Researchers have also established a link between POTS and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome . So if you have one of these conditions, you might also have the other.
A big group of those diagnosed with POTS is young women and teens. However, this doesnt mean they are more likely to develop this condition.
Shortness Of Breath Or Chest Pain After Covid
Shortness of Breath
You want to consult a doctor if any of your symptoms are severe, especially shortness of breath, Post says. She recommends using a commercially available O2 saturation monitor.
Shortness of breath by itself is not always a sign of a serious problem, but if you have that symptom along with low O2 , that is a reason to be concerned. Sometimes people are short of breath with exertion after COVID-19 because they have been less active for a long time and need to gradually build their fitness level back up.
COVID-19 Chest Pain
What about lingering chest pain, another common post-COVID complaint? Chest pain may be nothing serious, but if you are having severe chest pain, get help, especially if it is persistent or if you are also having nausea, shortness of breath or lightheadedness: These could be symptoms of a heart attack.
If you have chest pain when you inhale, you might have lung inflammation. Sudden, severe chest pain could be a blood clot in the lung , Post says.
Family doctor or cardiologist?
If your symptoms are not severe but you want to be checked out, Post says a cardiologist doesnt need to be your first stop if youve never had heart problems before and are not at risk. For nonemergency post-COVID-19 symptoms, your primary care practitioner can advise you, she says.
Heart Failure and COVID-19
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What Are Breathing Problems
Breathing problems are when you feel you cant get enough air, your chest feels very tight, you are breathless or you feel like youre being suffocated.
You might feel short of breath if you are obese or if you have just done some strenuous exercise. It can also happen in extreme temperatures or if you are at high altitude.
If you have breathing problems for any other reason, it is probably the sign of a medical problem.
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.
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Shortness Of Breath And Fatigue Are Side Effects Associated With
Potassium-sparing Diuretics: Diuretics increase urination to relieve fluid retention. They are used to treat many conditions including heart conditions and premenstrual syndrome . Potassium-sparing diuretics, such as Amiloride, Spironolactone, and Triamterene, help the body retain potassium while expelling fluid, and can have side effects that include shortness of breath, skin rashes, and itching.
Indera: Indera is a beta blocker used to treat tremors, high blood pressure, chest pain, heart rhythm disorders, migraines and to prevent heart attack. Side effects can include shortness of breath, fatigue, depression, impotence, memory loss, and slow heart rate.
Lopressor: Lopressor is another beta blocker. It is used to treat chest pain and high blood pressure and to prevent high blood pressure. Metoprolol can have side effects that include fatigue, shortness of breath, impotence, inability to achieve orgasm, fainting, depression, swelling of the ankles and feet, and cold hands and feet.
Digoxin: Digoxin is widely used in the treatment of various heart conditions, namely atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and sometimes heart failure. It decreases the conduction of electrical impulses through the AV node and increases the force of contraction of the heart. However, Digoxin is very dose-sensitive, as was demonstrated by the many victims in pending digoxin lawsuits over the recalled brand Digitek.
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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.
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What Are Heart Palpitations
Most of the time you wont notice your heartbeat, but if you suddenly become aware of it, this may concern you or come as a surprise. The feeling of being aware of your heart beating is described as a palpitation.
Palpitations can range from simply being aware of your hearts activity to the sensation of it beating faster and harder than usual. It can sometimes feel like your heart is missing beats or you have a heart flutter.
Changes to your heartbeat are usually not serious. But always see your doctor if you have palpitations or feel you have an irregular heart beat.
Dial triple zero if you have heart palpitations along with these symptoms:
- severe shortness of breath
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Can I Experience Heart Palpitations During Panic Attacks
The startle effect releases substances in the body such as adrenaline which cause the heart rate to increase and the heart to beat more vigorously, creating a sensation of panic, heart pounding and heart racing. This is the experience of becoming aware of a natural or normal functioning of the nervous system. Anxiety, panic, and startling cause the adrenaline level to rise and create the sensation of palpitation.
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How Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosed
Right now, theres no test to tell if someone has chronic fatigue syndrome. Doctors ask a lot of questions . They also will do a thorough physical exam.
Doctors also usually order blood, urine , or other tests to check for conditions that cause similar symptoms. They may send a person to see other specialists to help with the diagnosis.
A doctor may suggest meeting with a psychologist or a therapist who can see whether mental health disorders might contribute to or mask CFS.
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Fatigue And Shortness Of Breath Are Not Signs Of Aging
Have you noticed your energy level is lower and you are more short of breath even when performing the normal activities in your daily life? Dont ignore these feelings, or chalk them up to getting old. This is not a normal part of the aging process. It is your body telling you that it is struggling, maybe even with something as serious as a heart attack.
Shortness of breath and fatigue are frequently experienced by patients prior to having a heart attack. But you may not be aware just how far in advance these symptoms start to show. Its not necessarily a matter of minutes or hours. Many people who survive a heart attack start feeling as if something is not right several weeks, or even months, prior to the episode.
If the heart cannot supply itself with enough blood because of narrowed or blocked arteries, all of your body organs will suffer. These symptoms may progress at such a slow rate that they go unrecognized over time. Ive had many patients tell me they had been less active in the past month or two because of fatigue and shortness of breath, but they just didnt think about it in relation to heart disease until after they had a heart attack.
Phaedra McDonough is a Nurse Practitioner with The Center for Cardiovascular Health at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. She can be reached at 802-275-3699.
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A Stiffening Of The Heart
Cardiac amyloidosis is an often overlooked medical conditionalthough it is becoming increasingly recognized. The most common form is usually diagnosed in men over the age of 70.
Amyloid proteins build up in the heart, causing stiffness and pressure. The condition often leads to heart failure.
That’s because as amyloid proteins take up space in the wall of the heart, the heart’s ability to fill up with blood between heartbeats becomes more difficult, leading to breathlessness.
Dr. Patel says that as many as a quarter of patients over the age of 80 may suffer from cardiac amyloidosis, but many aren’t diagnosed for an average of 3 yearsmaking it crucial to see a specialist if you or a loved one suspects the condition.
To diagnose cardiac amyloidosis, patients often undergo a series of tests, including imaging scans of the heart, blood and urine tests, and in many cases, genetic testing.
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Causes Of Shortness Of Breath
Heart and lung conditions cause most cases of shortness of breath. You may feel shortness of breath for many reasons. Factors can include your overall health, medical history, and genetics. Talk to a health care provider to find out more about why you feel shortness of breath.
Acute Shortness of Breath
Acute shortness of breath can come on suddenly and last for a short period of time. Causes include:
- Increased fluid around the heart
- Panic attacks
Chronic Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath can also be chronic, meaning it lasts for several weeks or longer. Causes include:
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What Do Heart Palpitations Feel Like
Heart palpitations can occur once in a while or regularly. Some people even experience heart palpitations all day. They may vary in strength too. Some people have mild flutters and others have them so strong that they feel like a heart attack. The sensation can be different from person to person too. Some people experience a pounding heart rate, others feel as if their heart is flipping, fluttering, skipping a beat. Sometimes they can be a pounding in the chest or neck and other times they may just manifest as a general feeling of unease.
This variability shows just how worrying this symptom can be. Fortunately, most palpitations are caused by a harmless, momentary interruption in the hearts rhythm. But others can be a signal for more serious problems in the heart or elsewhere.
Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Disease
Heart disease often develops over time. You may have early signs or symptoms long before you have serious heart problems. Or, you may not realize you are developing heart disease. The warning signs of heart disease may not be obvious. Also, not every person has the same symptoms.
Certain symptoms, such as chest pain, ankle swelling, and shortness of breath may be signals that something is wrong. Learning the warning signs can help you get treatment and help prevent a heart attack or stroke.
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Microvascular Angina: Why Women Shouldnt Ignore Chest Pain And Fatigue
A sharp twinge, a sense of heaviness weve all felt chest pain from time to time. Sometimes its indigestion or a panic attack. But other times, its more serious.
Microvascular angina is an especially worrisome source of cardiac chest pain, and its often misdiagnosed because it doesnt show up as a blockage in the larger heart arteries during testing. This fact can cause doctors to miss the underlying cause.
Its concerning because the problem can be missed. It doesnt show up on a traditional angiogram, which can lead to delayed diagnosis if physicians dismiss the chest pain as nothing, says Erin Michos, M.D., associate director of preventive cardiology at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.
This chest pain in one of the hearts arteries is more common in women than in men, says Michos.
Symptoms Of Anxiety And Shortness Of Breath
Anxiety is your bodys natural fear response. This is known as the the fight-or-flight response. Your body reacts in physical and mental ways to prepare you to either fight or run from the situation.
Shortness of breath is one of those responses. You may feel like you cant catch your breath, tightness in your chest, or like youre suffocating or hungry for air.
Studies have shown a strong association between anxiety and respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath.
Other symptoms that can occur during this response and as a result of anxiety include:
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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.
- Chronic conditions:Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia cause severe, long-lasting 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.
How Are Heart Palpitations Diagnosed
Your doctor will talk to you about how the palpitations start , how long they last, how often they happen and any other symptoms you may have and your family history.
They may send you for further testing, including an electrocardiogram to measure your hearts electrical activity. This may be done by wearing a Holter monitor, a device that you wear for 24 hours while going about your normal activities.
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Exercise Can Help Counter The Effects Of Fatigue
Exercise can often help relieve the effects of fatigue, especially more short-lived, acute forms of fatigue. Remaining physically active is important for patients with CFS, however, the approach to exercise must be individualized since exercise can cause the symptoms to become worse for some people. Other things that may help: better hydration, better diet, relaxation, and, of course, more rest and better sleep.
Caffeine and other stimulants may help fight fatigue in the short term, but longer-term, they may actually contribute to the problem.
Shortness Of Breath Vs Normal Breathing
Shortness of breath occurs when your bodys ability to breathe doesnt match the brains orders to breathe. Ordinarily, your airway, lungs, breathing muscles, heart, and blood vessels work together with the brain to maintain sufficient oxygen levels in the body.
Sometimes theres an imbalance between the brains signals to breathe and the ability to breathe. The brain orders the breathing muscles to work harder, and you feel shortness of breath.
In a healthy person, shortness of breath can be caused by:
- Very strenuous exercise
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Allergic reaction
If you have unexplained shortness of breath, especially if it comes on suddenly and is severe, see a doctor as soon as possible. Breathlessness may be more serious if its accompanied by:
- Chest pain or pressure
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