While it’s normal to get a bit out of breath when you’re exercising, if shortness of breath comes on with no reason, it can be the sign of a serious medical emergency. During our Raleigh CPR training classes, we discuss how shortness of breath is a sign that immediate medical treatment is necessary and shouldn’t be ignored.
Let’s look at some of the common causes of difficulty breathing and treatments.
What Does Shortness of Breath Mean?
When a person describes feeling short of breath, they are referring to having difficulty when breathing. They may feel like they can’t take a deep breath, aren’t getting enough air, or are experiencing discomfort when breathing.
There isn’t a medical standard to what constitutes shortness of breath or how severe it is. However, it can be a sign of a serious illness that requires immediate medical attention, which is why it’s so important to take it seriously and not ignore it, even if it seems mild.
Causes of Shortness of Breath in Raleigh
Most causes of difficulty when breathing are due to heart and lung issues. Because your heart and lungs transport oxygen through your body, if there are problems with either organ, your breathing will be affected. Shortness of breath may be caused by :
People with asthma have a chronic lung issue that causes difficulty when moving air in and out of the lungs through swollen airways. In cases of an asthma attack, something has triggered additional swelling in the airways, making breathing difficult.
When blood flow to the heart is blocked, the heart tissues begin to die. Shortness of breath, along with chest pain, nausea, dizziness, and sweating are symptoms of a heart attack. If someone is showing these symptoms, it’s important to call 911 immediately.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is given off by burning gasoline, wood, propane and other fuels. In enclosed spaces or non-ventilated spaces, the gas can build up dangerously. Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs by replacing oxygen in the red blood cells, damaging tissues and possibly causing death, and signs include difficulty breathing, nausea, headache, and confusion.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that causes the immune system to release antibodies to defend against a foreign substance. This excessive chemical release can send the body into shock with symptoms that include swollen or constricted airway, tong, or throat, skin reactions, nausea, dizziness, and low blood pressure. If not treated, anaphylaxis can be deadly, and even with the use of an EpiPen, it’s still important to seek medical treatment immediately.
Other Factors that Cause Shortness of Breath
- Broken ribs
- Pulled muscles
- Pleurisy (inflammation in the lungs)
- Inhaling a foreign object, choking
When to Seek Medical Treatment for Shortness of Breath in Raleigh
If you or someone near you is experiencing difficulty breathing that comes on suddenly or is accompanied by chest pain, fainting, or nausea, you should call 911 immediately. It’s important to seek medical treatment if your shortness of breath is accompanied by swelling in your extremities, it’s worse when you lie flat, or you’re experiencing a fever, chills, or a cough.
Become CPR Certified to Save Lives
It’s important to take CPR training classes in Raleigh in the event that a loved one, co-worker, or even a passerby goes into cardiac arrest while awaiting emergency care for shortness of breath. CPR saves lives when administered correctly and provides an improved chance of survival in the event of cardiac arrest.
CPR Educators offers CPR classes at our Raleigh training center, and we also offer on-site training for businesses and organizations. Call us today at (919) 639-4848 or fill out our contact form to learn more.