Information for Patients
When you're short of breath, it's hard or uncomfortable for you to take in the oxygen your body needs. You may feel as if you're not getting enough air. Sometimes you can have mild breathing problems because of a stuffy nose or intense exercise. But shortness of breath can also be a sign of a serious disease.
Many conditions can make you feel short of breath:
- Lung conditions such as asthma, emphysema, or pneumonia
- Problems with your trachea or bronchi, which are part of your airway system
- Heart disease can make you feel breathless if your heart cannot pump enough blood to supply oxygen to your body
- Anxiety and panic attacks
If you often have trouble breathing, it is important to find out the cause.
When you breathe, your lungs take in oxygen from the air and deliver it to the bloodstream. The cells in your body need oxygen to work and grow. During a normal day, you breathe nearly 25,000 times. People with lung disease have difficulty breathing. Millions of people in the U.S. have lung disease. If all types of lung disease are lumped together, it is the number three killer in the United States.
The term lung disease refers to many disorders affecting the lungs, such as asthma, COPD, infections like influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis, lung cancer, and many other breathing problems. Some lung diseases can lead to respiratory failure.
Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health