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Answers From Experts & Organizations (1)

Internal Medicine
Emory University
131 Answers
108,399 Helpful Votes

Dyspnea is difficulty breathing. Dyspnea can have a wide range of causes, including:

  • Being out of shape (deconditioning)
  • Problems in the lungs (infections, emphysema, asthma)
  • Problems with the heart (congestive heart failure, pulmonary embolism)
  • Anemia (a low red blood cell count)
  • Problems with the chest wall or breathing muscles (muscular dystrophy).

Everyone has dyspnea with exercise—even Olympic athletes breathe faster after running up a flight of stairs. With increasing regular exercise, it takes higher levels of exertion to bring on dyspnea.

Shortness of breath that occurs with a level of activity that used to be easy, or dyspnea that’s getting worse, might be due to a medical condition. Generally speaking, worsening or unexplained dyspnea should prompt a call to your doctor.

This answer should not be considered medical advice...down arrowThis answer should not be considered medical advice and should not take the place of a doctor’s visit. Please see the bottom of the page for more information or visit our Terms and Conditions.up arrow

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