Why does it become difficult to breathe? 16 reasons


What can be dangerous difficulty breathing?


Shortness of breath is a condition in our body that does not cause any harm. If you have difficulty in breathing for no apparent reason or it is accompanied by other symptoms like chest pain, heart rhythm disturbance, coughing that lasts a few minutes or more then that can be a sign of a serious problem that requires immediate medical attention.

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What causes difficulty in breathing?

Temporary causes of breathing difficulties

  1. After physical activity. Shortness of breath after doing physical activity is perfectly normal as it the body’s reaction to the increased load. Breathing is usually recovered after about two minutes
  2. Emotional tension is also a common cause of breathing problems and it is frequent and superficial when there is an increase in heart rate. However, the discomfort disappears after a while.
  3. Staying in a stuffy room or in the highlands. This causes breathing problems as a result of the low pressure because a person will tend to breathe more often so that they may get the right amount of oxygen.

Heart and circulatory diseases that cause respiratory disorders

All diseases of the heart usually cause breathing problems due to one major reason; either hypoxia or lack of oxygen. However, they have different effects on the body:

  • Ischemic heart disease: This is a diseases that is caused when the myocardium (heart muscle), receives less oxygen than it needs due to coronary artery damage (vessels that feed the myocardial).
  • Arrhythmia: This is heart rhythm disorder. It is brought about when blood moves throughout the body too slowly and hence it does not have enough time to increase the concentration of oxygen in the vessels of the lungs.
  • Malformations and heart failure: These also lead to stagnation of blood and its insufficient circulation in the body.

Heart disease can easily be noticed. Aside from shortness of breath, the patient will experience pain in the chest and the limbs will become swollen and blue. These signs and symptoms are clear to the doctor as they will help during the diagnosis.

Lung and respiratory diseases

Any disease that causes narrowing if the airways brings about difficulty in breathing.

  1. Foreign bodies in the nasal cavity, throat, bronchus interfere with the flow of air. Breathing will therefore become frequent, loud and less deep and often the patient will panic. In such a situation, immediate medical attention should be provided.
  2. Pneumo and hydrothorax which are the accumulation of gas or fluid in the pleura of the lungs. Apart from frequent breathing, other symptoms that will be experienced are dry cough, frequent heartbeat, tears and the feeling of panic and fear.
  3. Tumours and cysts can either narrow the airways (if they are in the nasopharynx) and they may disrupt the operation of oxygen metabolism (if located in the lungs).
  4. Bronchial asthma that causes a sudden narrowing of the bronchi in response to allergen, stress or lack of air.
  5. Respiratory diseases also reduce the ability to breathe freely.
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Diseases of the nervous system that disrupt breathing

Diseases of the nervous system that cause difficulty in breathing can be associated with pathologies of the brain, spine and peripheral nerves.

  1. Brain lesions such as trauma, growth, stroke, encephalitis can cause breathing difficulties as a result of the disturbance of the respiratory system. Breathing is usually controlled by the brain and conditions related to its functioning can cause frequent and rare breathing and in severe cases, breathing may stop.
  2. Inter-rib neuralgia causes severe pain when moving the chest. The patient will rarely breathe well so as to avoid discomfort.
  3. The curved spine can push nerves and blood vessels and this will cause bronchial cramps, narrowing of the artery lumen and pain when trying to take a deep breath.

Doctors often relate breathing disorders to neuroses or tantrums. However, they can easily be treated using sedatives and they are not a sign of any other serious condition. However, you should still consult with a neurologist and/or a psychotherapist.

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Cornelius Arthur
I am an English language and literature teacher. I have worked in many cities of the world. I am currently producing content at upwork as a freelance. I find and produce the right content by doing good research.


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