People can experience difficulty breathing while walking for a variety of reasons. Sometimes this occurs as a result of conditions such as anxiety, asthma, or obesity.
Less often, shortness of breath indicates a more serious underlying condition.
In this article, we’re going to discuss what shortness of breath is, what causes it, how to deal with it, and when to seek help.
Shortness of breath or breathlessness is a feeling of uncomfortable breathing. It can feel different from person to person and vary in intensity. People may feel out of breath or as if breathing requires more effort than usual.
Dyspnea can be acute or chronic. Acute dyspnea lasts a few hours to a few days, while chronic dyspnea lasts longer than 4 to 8 weeks.
Physical activities such as walking can cause or worsen breathlessness in some people.
Shortness of breath is different from difficulty breathing. People who have difficulty breathing should call 911 or their local emergency room for immediate medical attention.
Anxiety is a common mental illness that, along with many other symptoms, can make you breathless, such as:
- Muscle tension
- a fast heartbeat
- a feeling of fear or panic
- a feeling of not being in control
People with anxiety may feel persistently nervous, which can make them feel tired or short of breath on a regular basis.
People with anxiety often respond to psychiatric treatment that can improve their quality of life. This can include:
- Talking therapies that can help people understand the reasons for their fear and manage their emotions
- Drugs such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- Activities like mindfulness
Learn more about treating anxiety here.
Asthma is a common condition with varying degrees of severity. In some people, it causes mild, occasional symptoms that only appear in response to certain triggers. In other cases, movement is a trigger, which can mean experiencing symptoms while walking.
The symptoms of asthma include:
People with asthma also often have hay fever or eczema.
Not all asthma requires medical treatment. Some people may be able to relieve their symptoms by avoiding things that trigger their symptoms, such as tobacco, dust mites, animals, or pollen. If a person has obesity and asthma, achieving moderate weight can reduce symptoms.
Often times, when a person needs medical treatment, a doctor will prescribe bronchodilators or anti-inflammatory drugs.
Obesity is a condition where people become overweight or wear body fat, which can affect their health. People with obesity are at higher risk for other conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.
People with obesity can also have:
People with obesity should work with their doctor or nutritionist to ensure a healthy, balanced diet. Sometimes it can be helpful to discuss the underlying mental illness with a therapist.
Some people with obesity may take weight loss medication or have surgery, such as a sleeve gastrectomy.
Arrhythmias are conditions in which a person’s heart has an irregular rhythm. Some people with arrhythmias do not experience symptoms, others.
Symptoms of an arrhythmia include:
Treatment for irregular heartbeat depends on the type of irregular heartbeat. Doctors can prescribe drugs to stop, prevent, or control arrhythmias.
In some cases, people may need a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator to monitor the heart’s rhythm and help the heart beat at a normal rate.
Other people may need cardioversion, which uses electrical power to get the heart back into a natural rhythm. Another possible procedure is catheter ablation, which destroys any diseased tissue and causes arrhythmias.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. The infection can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Symptoms of pneumonia include:
- rapid breathing
- Fast heart rate
- Fever with or without chills
- shallow breathing or shortness of breath
- Crackling in the lungs
People can treat mild pneumonia at home. Doctors can prescribe antibiotics, antiviral drugs, or antifungal drugs. People can also buy over-the-counter medicines to treat a fever or muscle pain.
Some people may need hospital treatment. A hospital can provide antibiotics and fluids through an intravenous line and use oxygen therapy to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common condition that makes people increasingly difficult to breathe.
The most common cause of COPD is long-term exposure to cigarette smoke. However, exposure to other types of air pollutants can also lead to it.
Symptoms of COPD include:
- Barrel crate
- shortness of breath
- Breathing disorder
- Muscle weakness
Doctors can treat mild COPD cases with bronchodilators, corticosteroids, and antibiotics. People with severe COPD and people who need to be hospitalized may need oxygen and bronchodilator therapy.
Some people with COPD may need surgery, such as: B. a bullectomy or a lung transplant.
Pulmonary embolism is a condition that occurs when blood flow in the pulmonary artery is disrupted. The most common symptoms of pulmonary embolism are:
There are many different causes and risk factors for pulmonary embolism. This may be more likely in people using certain types of contraception or during pregnancy, for example.
If a person thinks they have a pulmonary embolism, they should see a doctor as soon as possible. Most people with pulmonary embolism can take anticoagulants, which should allow them a full recovery.
Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a term that refers to a group of lung diseases that have similar causes. This condition can occur due to long-term exposure to environmental factors such as toxic gases.
ILD can also be the result of autoimmune diseases, certain medications, and other diseases such as pneumonia. Symptoms of ILD include:
- gradual onset of shortness of breath
- to cough
- Chest pain
People can try to relieve their symptoms by avoiding known triggers like cigarette smoke.
Doctors can prescribe corticosteroids and immunosuppressive therapies. In some cases, people may need additional oxygen.
There are several ways a person can deal with shortness of breath.
People who have difficulty breathing may feel like they need to breathe deeper or breathe faster. However, this can make the shortness of breath worse as the muscles have to work harder.
Breathing techniques that people can try to relieve this symptom include:
- Inhale gently through your nose and blow air out through pursed lips as if you were blowing out a candle
- Breathe in before doing something and breathe out afterwards, e.g. B. breathe in before getting up and breathe out straight up once
- gradual breathing, e.g. B. Inhale one step while walking and one or two steps while exhaling
If a person regularly experiences shortness of breath while walking, they should seek advice from a doctor. Doctors can diagnose the cause and offer the most appropriate treatment options.
If a person has difficulty breathing or loses consciousness, emergency medical services must be contacted immediately.
There are many causes of shortness of breath, some of which can worsen from physical activity such as walking.
In cases where the shortness of breath is mild, a person may be able to manage it by avoiding triggers and doing breathing exercises. In other cases, this may indicate an underlying condition that needs treatment.