Dyspnea can be defined as difficulty in breathing, being unable to draw adequate breath, a difference in respiration that makes the individual feel uncomfortable, a jamming feeling in chest. Difficulty in breathing is known as “dyspnea” in medicine.
Dyspnea is a very common symptom and it can depend on problems in three organ systems. Respiratory, cardiovascular and circulatory systems.
In cases, which the respiratory and/or circulatory systems are inadequate to fulfil the needs of the body, dyspnea develops. Dyspnea can be seen in a lot of disease and it is most common with lung and cardiac diseases.
Dyspnea is divided into two groups as dyspnea related with lungs and dyspnea related with other causes.
Causes of dyspnea caused by problems that are not related with lungs: Coronary failure, anaemia, reflux, upper respiratory tract occlusion, chest deformities like scoliosis, especially high urine levels for patients with kidney disorders, hyperthyroidism, nervous system diseases, psychological problems can be the causes.
Folllowing can be the causes of dyspnea related with lungs:
Asthma: Sudden dyspnea may depend on an asthma attack. That means constriction in respiratory tracts and increase of phiegm that causes coughing and wheezing.
Pneumonia: Lung infection can cause coughing and dyspnea. Usually it depends on an infection that must be treated with antibiotics.
COPD: – In COPD (chronic obstructive respiratory disease) that develops with smoking, the structure of the lungs degenerates and this causes dyspnea.
Lung Cancer: It is the most important cause of dyspnea.
Emphysema: The oxygen in the air cannot be transferred to blood vessels efficiently. Therefore, the patient does not get enough oxygen and this causes dyspnea.
Sudden dyspnea usually makes us consider cardiac problems. On the other hand, for patients with both lung and cardiac problems, it can be extremely difficult to determine which one causes dyspnea.
If the dyspnea started suddenly, it is advised to visit a health centre for an examination to search for the causes.
Dyspnea, which develops when the patients lie down, is more common for the patients with left heart failure or mitral valve disease. Usually, it also causes coughs. The difficulty in breathing that develops two or three hours after going to bed usually eases, when the patient sits.
When there is no evident cause of dyspnea, that points out that there is an underlying health problem. Dypsnea complaints that last longer than one month fall in to the chronic dyspnea group. Chronic dyspnea affects the life quality and spoils the activities of the patients, which they enjoy doing.
Some of the cases that a health problem must be considered are;
- Difficulty in breathing while resting
- Asphyxia after activities or exercising
- Dyspnea while lying down
- Asphyxia that develops with various triggers like allergens
- Dyspnea with chest pain
- Difficulty in breathing with arm, chin or neck pain
- Dyspnea with swelling in legs and wrists
- Dyspnea with loss of appetite, involuntary weight loss or gain
- Dyspnea with unusual exhaustion
- Dyspnea with sweating
- Dyspnea with fever
- Hearing voices like whistling or growling when breathing and dyspnea
- Persistent cough with dyspnea
- Dyspnea with fainting feeling and dizziness