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Why am I having trouble breathing?

Picture of Leslie Merrill

Leslie Merrill

Health Writer

You can expect to have some trouble breathing after exercising, but for the most part you should be able to breathe without difficulty. If you or someone near you is having trouble breathing then this is a serious situation and you should visit your local Emergency Room or call 911 immediately.

Breathing emergencies may come with the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breathe
  • Wheezing
  • Breathlessness
  • Quick, shallow breathing
  • Coughing
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Blue discoloration around the lips or fingers
  • Confusion

Shortness of breath can be caused by many things, including:

  • Asthma
  • Heart attack
  • Lung damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Allergies
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood clots
  • Altitude sickness

What to Do When Someone is Having Trouble Breathing

First and foremost, call 911 and clearly explain the situation to the dispatcher. While waiting for help to arrive, you can loosen any tight clothing that might be restricting airways or blood flow. If the person has an inhaler, make sure they have access to it. If you or anyone else in the room knows CPR, be prepared to administer it.

Try to keep the atmosphere calm. Anxiety can make breathing problems worse. You’ve done the right thing by contacting medical professionals. Take comfort knowing that you have taken action.

Learn More at the American Lung Association

Learn how to keep your lungs healthy and get the facts about lung disease symptoms, causes and treatments, as well as advice for managing different lung diseases.  The American Lung Association provides this information and more.

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