Feeling short of breath is the sensation that, even though you are breathing normally, you can't get in enough air, or that after exercise it takes much longer than typical to recover a normal breathing pattern which can be frustrating, frightening, and tiring.

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There are two kinds of shortness of breath that are talked about by doctors. Acute means that the symptoms come on suddenly, whereas chronic means that the symptoms generally come on more slowly, and last for weeks or more.

Shortness of breath is a symptom of almost all pulmonary diseases, including:

  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Pneumonia

But is also a factor in many heart problems and diseases. Shortness of breath can also become a symptom in neuromuscular diseases such as ALS or multiple sclerosis.


If you are experiencing acute shortness of breath, you may need emergency treatment, especially if you have a history of asthma, COPD, or heart disease. If you have prescribed rescue medications, use them before calling emergency numbers.

To treat chronic shortness of breath, the most important step is to find and treat the underlying cause. If you have asthma, medications can be used to reduce overall lung inflammation, for example. The specific treatment will depend on the pulmonary or heart disease that is causing your symptoms.


Feeling like you can't catch your breath is an awful feeling. Contact Dr. Rahul Kakkar at Prana Health to speak to a medical professional with many years of experience and expertise treating pulmonary diseases, and start feeling better.