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Breathing Blunders

Breathe in. Breathe out. Sounds simple enough, right? If you have trouble with an annoying cough or seasonal allergies, you're grateful for a few full breaths. For some, though, lung problems go far beyond theses common nuisances. If breathing burdens have you feeling blue, check out these signs, causes, and accompanying symptoms of lung problems to see if you should pay a visit to your doc.

Signs of Breathing Trouble
Any changes in breathing can be alarming and, sometimes, scary. Unexplained rapid, shallow, or deep breathing could be a sign that there may be an underlying condition to blame. If you notice that your breathing has been off, try to answer these questions:

  • When did you first detect your breathing problem?
  • When do you feel these problems? After certain activities?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • What medications do you take?

By answering these questions, you'll begin to see the full picture of your breathing patterns. For example, maybe you only experience shallow breathing after eating a certain food. This may be a sign that you're having an allergic reaction. Keep track of any severe changes in your breathing and/or coughing so that you can share them with your doctor.

Causes
Breathing is affected by all sorts of things -- dehydration, infections, disorders, and more. The three most common categories of breathing troubles are lung problems, heart problems, and emotions. Let's look at how these categories break down.

Lung Problems
Breathing problems that blame the lungs may be caused by disorders of the respiratory system. Allergies and asthma are common, but more serious disorders could be present. Bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affect breathing as well.

Heart Problems
A cardiovascular system disorder could also be the culprit. This could be a sign of a heart attack, cardiovascular disease, or a weakened heart muscle.

Emotions
A severe change in emotions can make breathing difficult. Anger, anxiety, and fear can all cause problems. Panic attacks, especially, cause a change in breathing patterns to the point where you may not be able to get a full breath.

Additional Symptoms
If you have other notable symptoms that come along with your breathing trouble, there may be a link between the two. If you experience any of these things in addition, you may want to talk to your doctor:

  • Worsening cough
  • Coughing up mucus or blood
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever and chills
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Change in heart rate
  • Confusion

Regardless of any accompanying symptoms, you know your body best. If something feels wrong, it's best to check in with your doc -- that's why he's there, you know! If you're tired of dealing with breathing problems, make an appointment and bring the answers to those above questions with you. To find a doctor who is right for you, visit The Chester County Hospital's Find a Doctor section or call 800-789-PENN (7366) . After all, when you breathe better, you feel better!

Last Updated: 4/5/2013