Nothing comes free in this materialistic world except the air we breathe in. Unfortunately, there are many people who have to pay (in the form of medication) even to breathe, as a consequence of their breathing trouble. Dyspnea, a medical word for troubled breathing is a common symptom produced due to lung and heart problems.
When a person has breathing trouble, he is not able to inhale enough amount of air or oxygen that is required by the body. This may have severe implications on his overall health, sometime even life threatening.
A person may experience shortness of breath in many circumstances. It can occur while doing exertional work which is considered normal, however when there is troubled breathing even at rest or while lying down or doing some non exertional work it is time to consult a doctor.
What Are The Causes Of Breathing Problems?
There are wide varieties of causes that can give rise to troubled breathing.
- Pulmonary diseases such as Asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, lung fibrosis, lung cancer, emphysema, pleural effusion and pneumothorax are some them.
- At other times weakness of chest wall due to some muscular disease such as myasthenia gravis, polio myelitis or polyneuropathy may be the cause.
- Cardiovascular reasons include heart attack, left ventricular failure, heart valve diseases etc.
- Allergies to environmental pollution, smoking, obesity, physical overexertion, foreign body inhalation are other common causes triggering difficulty in breathing.
- Anxiety and hysteria are some of the psychological problems that may give rise to troubled breathing.
- Recently, sleep apnea syndrome has been recognized as an important cause of breathing difficulty. Typical symptoms include abnormal behavior during sleep, cough, snoring headache, chronic insomnia etc.
Signs And Symptoms Of Trouble Breathing
Here are some of the common sign and symptom that may indicate troubled breathing. In most cases the attitude of the patient gives a clue of respiratory distress.
- Rapid breathing is obvious sign of breathing trouble.
- Cough: it is the most important symptom that is present in most of the respiratory diseases. It is referred as a ‘watch dog’ of the respiratory system. When there is troubled breathing as a result of inhaling a foreign body or due to excessive accumulation of mucus, the body tries to expel it out by coughing.
- Use of accessory muscles of breathing, nasal flaring and retraction of ribs while examining a patient gives important clue for the physician regarding his dyspnea problem.
- Chest pain: pain in chest is one of the symptom associated with many respiratory problems such as pneumonia, pleural effusion, asthma etc. It can also occur in the event of heart attack together with breathing difficulty as a prominent symptom.
- Wheezing: it is an abnormal breath sound many times audible to other when a person is suffering from asthma, emphysema. It is low whistling sound mostly aggravated at night and while lying down in an asthmatic.
- Cyanosis: the tips of finger digits and nails become blue. Sometimes the lips and tongue may also appear blue. It occurs as a result of defect of gas transfer or due to obstruction in the air passages.
- Difficulty in talking: patient finds difficult to talk when he has breathing trouble.
- Weakness and excessive sweating are accompanying symptom.
- Congestion and expulsion of mucus.
- Nasal blockage.
Treatment For Trouble In Breathing
- Those who experience breathing difficult, no matter how minor it is should always seek medical help. Early recognition and treatment can prevent untoward catastrophic event.
- It also gives a clue regarding the underlying disease. A person who may experience severe respiratory distress may require oxygen therapy. It is necessary to maintain normal oxygen saturation in the bloodstream. He may require to be hospitalized.
- In moderate and mild breathing trouble, use of bronchodilator as in case of asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema may be necessary.
- Besides, antibiotics are useful in certain conditions such as pneumonia.
- Preventing the stress level by doing yoga and meditation helps in reduce anxiety. It is also useful in patients who are known to have hysteria.
- Patient suffering from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) may benefit by practicing breathing exercises. Deep inhalation with slow exhalation through pursed lips helps the gas mix within the lungs. Physiotherapy lung exercise helps to improve effort tolerance even though there may not be improvement in lung function.