Shortness of breath can happen to anyone. The causes may also vary, which range from allergies asthma to lung ailments. Usually, shortness of breath is accompanied by pain in the chest. If this happens to you or the people closest to you, what should you do? Learn more about Shortness of Breath: What to do and First AID here.
Doing a lot of things with various activities, certainly makes you tired. There are a variety of factors that can cause shortness of breath whether it is accompanied by a cough or without coughing. You can find out what can cause and when to worry about shortness of breath, considering the shortness of breath can also be deadly if not handled properly.
Do you know what is Shortness of Breath?
Shortness of breath is a condition when a person has difficulty breathing. In medical terms, this condition is also known as dyspnea. It can also be a sign of a disease.
Shortness of breath can occur suddenly and in a short period (acute), but it can also occur over a long period or recurrent (chronic). If not treated properly, shortness of breath can result in the body lacking oxygen and causing serious complications.
What causes a individual to experience shortness of breath?
Shortness of breath occurs because the respiratory system and blood circulation are unable to circulate enough oxygen to the body. However, in addition, shortness of breath can also be a symptom of a person’s psychic disorder.
The following is an explanation of the types of disorders that can cause shortness of breath:
Shortness of breath due to impaired lungs can occur due to obstructions in the airways, reduced lung surface area, or un-elastic lungs. This condition can occur over a long or short time.
- Some lung disorders that can cause chronic shortness of breath are:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a lung disease that blocks airflow and makes breathing difficult).
- Interstitial pulmonary disease (a disorder that causes progressive scarring of lung tissue).
- This is long-term inflammation and scarring of the lungs due to asbestos fibers)
- Lung cancer
The disorder in the lungs is called pulmonary Edema. This disorder can be characterized by symptoms of shortness of breath. You can read more on Pulmonary Edema: Symptoms, Type, Causes and How to Treatment.
Meanwhile, lung disorders that can cause an acute shortness of breath include:
- Asthma attacks
- Pulmonary embolism: A condition where one or more blood vessels in the lungs become blocked by blood clots.
- Lung infections, such as pneumonia and COVID-19
- Fluid buildup in the lungs
- Heart disorders
Shortness of breath due to heart problems can occur when the heart is unable to pump oxygen-filled blood optimally. Several heart disorders that can cause shortness of breath are:
- Coronary heart disease: Damage or disease of the main blood vessels of the heart.
- Arrhythmia: Abnormal heartbeat, whether irregular, too fast, or too slow.
- Congestive heart failure: A chronic condition when the heart does not pump blood properly.
- Heart valve disease: a condition in which the heart valves do not function normally.
- Pericarditis: A swelling and irritation of the membrane such as a thin sac that wraps around the heart (pericardium).
Shortness of breath due to psychic disorders can occur because the respiratory muscles experience tension in response to stress or panic attacks. Psychic disorders that can cause shortness of breath, among others:
- Anxiety disorders
- Somatoform disorders
Somatoform disorder is a mental illness in an individual characterized by a group of erratic bodily complaints, but not observable during physical exam. The visual appeal of the disorder is usually brought on by anxiety and a great deal of thoughts.
Risk factors for shortness of breath
Shortness of breath can strike anyone. However, several factors can increase the risk of shortness of breath, namely:
- Being overweight or obese
- Too skinny
- Suffers from muscle-weakening diseases, such as myasthenia gravis or muscular dystrophy
- Suffering from anemia
- Work in an environment full of pollution or dust
- Located on the plateau
What are the symptoms of Shortness of Breath?
Shortness of breath is a condition when a person has difficulty breathing. This condition can be a symptom of certain diseases, such as lung disorders. A person experiencing shortness of breath usually experiences complaints such as the following:
- Chest sensations such as being bound or unable to move freely
- Such feelings need to catch your breath more or faster
- The body doesn’t feel enough to get air
- Difficulty breathing deeply
When to see a doctor?
Acute shortness of breath needs to be immediately checked to a doctor, especially if accompanied by symptoms, such as:
- Chest feels full for more than 30 minutes
- Chest pain
- Swelling of the feet and ankles
- Cough and fever
- There is a whistling-like sound when pulling and exhaling
- Bluish on lips and nails
- Tightness worsens while lying down
If you have acute shortness of breath which is a recurrent condition, such as asthma, do the treatment at home as instructed by the doctor. If the tightness still does not improve, immediately check with a doctor.
How to diagnose Shortness of Breath?
To diagnose shortness of breath, the doctor will ask questions about the individual’s history and symptoms of this disease, in addition to if the symptoms start to appear. Then, the physician will conduct a thorough physical exam.
After the question and answer and physical examination are completed, the doctor may also perform supporting examinations, such as:
- Occimetry, to measure oxygen levels in the blood and how efficiently oxygen flows in the blood
- Spirometry test, to find out how much air can come in and out and the timeframe to do so
- Blood test, to detect infection and to know hemoglobin levels in the blood
- X-ray or CT scan of the chest, to detect the presence of lung or heart disorders
- Electrocardiogram (ECG), to measure and record the electrical activity of the heart
What to do and how First AID for Shortness of Breath?
Take it to a quieter place and away from the crowds
When the sufferer experiences shortness of breath, try to stay away from the crowd. A calm atmosphere is important to make the patient’s condition stable.
Immediately call for medical assistance
Immediately call for medical help when there are sufferers who experience shortness of breath. Therefore, keep the emergency number of the health center or hospital that can help.
Comfortable with sitting position
Make people with shortness of breath feel comfortable with the sitting position. Give him a backrest to make it more comfortable. Place the pillow on your back or head so that it is higher than the foot.
Do not let the sufferer sleep
Lay people may think that the sleeping position is a comfortable position for people with shortness of breath. It’s not true at all. Sit down the best. By sitting down, the lungs develop more easily and inhale oxygen.
Remind sufferers to breathe long and deep
Calm the sufferer by asking him slowly to take a deep and deep breath. Aim to exhale through the nose, hold it for three seconds, then exhale through the mouth.
Loosen the patient’s clothes to make breathing easier
To make it easier for the sufferer to breathe, loosen the victim’s clothes. Especially if she wears tight and thick clothes.
Give warm water to warm the chest of the sufferer
The warm water serves to restore the airway as it was. Give warm water to taste.
Give asphyxiation relieves medicine
If necessary, give a reliever of breathlessness, salbutamol, or nebula. If possible you can ask the sufferer if he has prepared his own medicine.
Give a massage on the thumb of the sufferer
The big toe is the main point of the pulmonary nerve. Press 3-5 cm of the patient’s thumb segment. This is useful to help the patient’s breathing to return to normal. Do it slowly, do not be too hard because it will only make the sufferer worse.
Make sure patients with shortness of breath get medical treatment from experts
Although shortness of breath can stop, make sure that the sufferer checks with the doctor. That way, the sufferer will know the diagnosis. Particularly if this event of shortness of breath is experienced.
How to treat Shortness of Breath?
The purpose of the treatment of shortness of breath is to address the underlying causes and relieve complaints. Therefore, the treatment will be adjusted to the cause.
Some methods of treatment that can be done by the doctor to overcome shortness of breath are:
- Administration of inhalers or bronchodilators, for shortness of breath caused by narrowing of the airways, such as asthma.
- Administration of antibiotics, for shortness of breath caused by pulmonary disorders due to bacterial infections, such as chronic bronchitis or pneumonia.
- Administration of blood supplements, for shortness of breath caused by anemia.
- Administration of medications to treat heart disorders, such as diuretics, arrhythmia medications, or hypertensive medications.
- Installation of chest tubes or special hoses in the chest, for shortness of breath caused by trauma or pneumothorax.
- Administration of additional oxygen to relieve the work of the lungs or heart.
Complications and Dangers of Shortness of Breath
Lack of oxygen is one of the effects of shortness of breath. This condition can cause complications, namely confusion or loss of consciousness.
If you don’t get treatment, the oxygen deprivation condition will get worse and can lead to more serious complications, such as:
- Hypoxaemia: a condition in which oxygen levels in the blood are low
Hypoxia is a term used to describe conditions when the body’s tissues do not get adequate oxygen intake. It generally occurs due to insufficient oxygen concentration in the blood or called hypoxemia.
- Respiratory failure
- Brain damage
- Renal failure
How to prevent Shortness of Breath?
The risk of developing shortness of breath can be reduced by taking precautions against disorders that can cause this condition. Some things that can be done to prevent such interference are:
- Avoiding cigarette smoke, irritants, allergens, and other air pollution
- Adequate daily intake of water
- Exercise regularly
- Keeping the ideal weight
- Eating foods with balanced nutrition, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
- Plan your trip carefully to avoid bad weather and conditions
- Maintain hand hygiene by diligently washing your hands
- Keeping a distance from people with respiratory infections