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Shortness of Breath on Exertion

Shortness of Breath on Exertion

If you experience shortness of breath while performing mild physical activities such as climbing stairs or walking, it is indicative of poor physical health. This HealthHearty write-up provides the contributing factors for this condition.
Rahul Thadani
Shortness of breath (SOB), which is medically referred to as dyspnea, is characterized by the feeling of breathlessness. The affected individual might experience the sensation of not getting enough air or oxygen. Though it is normal to experience such a sensation after performing extremely strenuous physical activities, medical assistance must be sought by those who experience breathlessness after performing physical activities of a mild nature.
Contributing Factors
Basically, breathlessness occurs when less oxygen is reaching your lungs, and sufficient amount of carbon dioxide is not being expelled. This could occur when lungs are affected by certain medical conditions, due to which they are unable to perform the effective transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The following conditions could put one at an increased risk of developing SOB:
Pneumonia
Asthma
Chronic bronchitis
Bronchiolitis
Pulmonary hypertension
Emphysema
Pleural effusion
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Pulmonary embolism
Interstitial fibrosis
Pregnancy
Heart disease
Obesity
Anemia
Difficulty in breathing could also occur, if the heart is unable to pump oxygenated blood. Obesity and smoking are risk factors as well. Dyspnea on exertion is likely to be experienced by those who live a sedentary lifestyle. As a result, performing even a mild physical activity could also cause breathlessness. If something as simple as climbing a few steps causes you to feel breathless, then you surely need to consult your healthcare provider. Factors such as age, gender, lifestyle, medical history, and general state of health are taken into consideration by the doctors.
Symptoms
Seek medical assistance, if you experience the following symptoms on performing any physical activity:
Air hunger
Hyperventilation
Gasping for breath
Passing out
Sweating excessively
Dizziness
Chest pain
Pallor (pale skin) or cyanosis (skin turns blue)
Swelling in the ankles and legs
Treatment and Preventive Measures
If a person has been experiencing dyspnea frequently, he/she must consult a doctor. Besides analyzing the patient's medical history and conducting a physical examination, diagnostic procedures such as chest X-rays, blood tests, CT scan, ECG, pulse oximetry, and pulmonary function test would be conducted to identify the underlying cause. For those who have a sedentary lifestyle, labored breathing should actually be taken as a warning sign. Such individuals must make some lifestyle-related changes, which include following a healthy diet and an exercise regimen. Following an exercise regimen will keep you physically fit. Also, refrain from smoking.
It is normal to experience dyspnea after heavy exertion. So, don't panic, if you experience shortness of breath after performing strenuous physical activities. However, seek medical help, if you experience breathing difficulty even after mild exertion.