Thursday, September 28, 2023

Does Pneumonia Cause Shortness Of Breath

When Should I Call My Doctor

Shortness of Breath Mnemonic: Causes and Examples

If you live in an area thats known to harbor Coccidioides fungal spores, and youve had flu-like symptoms for more than one week, contact your doctor. He or she can order the blood test to determine if you have the infection.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/19/2018.


What Does Shortness Of Breath Feel Like

Shortness of breath can make it hard to breathe. It can leave you gasping for air.

Your chest may feel too tight to inhale or exhale fully. Each shallow breath takes greater effort and leaves you feeling winded. It can feel like youre breathing through a straw.

It may happen when youre active or resting. It can come on gradually or suddenly.

High intensity or strenuous workouts, extreme temperatures, and high altitudes can all cause shortness of breath. Anxiety can also lead to changes in your breathing rate and pattern.

What Can I Do At Home To Feel Better

In addition to taking any antibiotics and/or medicine your doctor prescribes, you should also:

  • Get lots of rest. Rest will help your body fight the infection.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Fluids will keep you hydrated. They can help loosen the mucus in your lungs. Try water, warm tea, and clear soups.
  • Stop smoking if you smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoke can make your symptoms worse. Smoking also increases your risk of developing pneumonia and other lung problems in the future. You should also avoid lit fireplaces or other areas where the air may not be clean.
  • Stay home from school or work until your symptoms go away. This usually means waiting until your fever breaks and you arent coughing up mucus. Ask your doctor when its okay for you to return to school or work.
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier or take a warm bath. This will help clear your lungs and make it easier for you to breathe.

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Why Does It Take So Long To Recover From Pneumonia

I was diagnosed with pneumonia in October. The doctor told me to rest, really rest. She told me to expect to feel better after a couple of days of antibiotics, but that I still must rest. She told me I would have good days, but they would be followed by bad days.

After a week of antibiotics, the bacteria causing my illness presumably Streptococcus pneumonia should have been dead. Also called pneumococcus, this pathogen is the most common perpetrator of community-acquired pneumonia, which is pneumonia that people get outside hospitals and nursing homes. The antibiotic I received, a common first-line treatment, covers pneumococcus as well as other bacterial invaders.

Yet my doctor told me to expect weeks to months of recovery. Friends with recent pneumonia experience confirmed this rather depressing outlook. Pneumonia can vary in severity so not everyone will need months to recover.

The scientific literature concurs with the anecdotal evidence I collected. One study followed 576 adult patients with community-acquired pneumonia. Thirty days after diagnosis, 65 percent of them reported fatigue, nearly half of whom said their fatigue was moderate to severe 53 percent reported cough and 36 percent reported shortness of breath. Ninety days after diagnosis, 51 percent reported fatigue, 32 percent cough, and 28 percent shortness of breath.

Why does it take so long to recover from pneumonia?

Other Health Conditions That Can Cause Shortness Of Breath


Besides COVID-19, many other health conditions can trigger shortness of breath. Here are some of the most common:

  • Asthma. This obstructive lung disease causes the lining of your airways to swell, nearby muscles to tighten, and mucus to build up in your airways. This blocks the amount of air that can pass into your lungs.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.COPD is a group of progressive lung diseases, the most common of which are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. They can restrict your outward airflow, or lead to swelling and narrowing of the bronchial tubes, as well as mucus buildup.
  • Myocardial infarction. Also known as a heart attack, it can decrease blood and oxygen flow to and from your heart and lungs. This can lead to congestion in these organs, making it harder to breathe.
  • Interstitial lung disease .ILD includes more than 200 conditions that affect the airways, blood vessels, and air sacs inside your lungs. ILD leads to scarring and inflammation around the air sacs in your lungs, which makes it harder for your lungs to expand.

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Occupational And Regional Pneumonias

Exposure to chemicals can also cause inflammation and pneumonia. Where you work and live can put you at higher risk for exposure to pneumonia-causing organisms.

  • Workers exposed to cattle, pigs, sheep, and horses are at risk for pneumonia caused by anthrax, brucella, and Coxiella burnetii .

Inhalation or respiratory anthrax is a life-threatening infectious disease caused by inhaling the spores of the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Although the spores are dormant when breathed in, they germinate when exposed to a warm, moist environment, such as the lungs. Not all particles are small enough to pass into the alveoli, or air sacs, but those that do begin to multiply and may spread to the lymphatic system. When the spores germinate, several toxins are released. Particles illustrated are not to scale.

  • Agricultural and construction workers in the Southwest are at risk for coccidioidomycosis . The disease is caused by the spores of the fungi Coccidioides immitis and Coccidiodes posadasii.
  • Those working in Ohio and the Mississippi Valley are at risk for histoplasmosis, a lung disease caused by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. This fungus grows well in areas enriched with bird or bat droppings.

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What Can I Do To Feel Better If I Have Pneumonia

  • Finish all medications and therapies prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop taking antibiotics when you start feeling better. Continue taking them until no pills remain. If you dont take all your antibiotics, your pneumonia may come back.
  • If over-the-counter medicines to reduce fever have been recommended , take as directed on the label. Never give aspirin to children.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen phlegm.
  • Quit smoking if you smoke. Dont be around others who smoke or vape. Surround yourself with as much clean, chemical-free air as possible.
  • Use a humidifier, take a steamy shower or bath to make it easier for you to breathe.
  • Get lots of rest. Dont rush your recovery. It can take weeks to get your full strength back.

If at any time you start to feel worse, call your doctor right away.

Side Effects Of Antibiotics

How to Approach and Manage a Patient with Shortness of Breath or Dyspnea [The BREATHE Mnemonic]

Most antibiotics have the following side effects :

  • Allergic reactions . These reactions can range from mild skin rashes to rare but severe — even life threatening — anaphylactic shock.
  • Infection with Clostridium difficile, the bacteria responsible for causing severe diarrhea, inflammation of the colon , and abdominal pain. This condition can be fatal.
  • Interactions with certain drugs, including some over-the-counter medications and supplements. People should inform their doctors of all medications and OTC preparations they are taking, as well as any drug allergies they might have.
  • Stomach problems .
  • Vaginal infections. Taking Lactobacillus acidophilus supplements or eating yogurt with active acidophilus cultures may help restore healthy bacteria that reduce the risk for such infections. There is no strong evidence that this helps prevent yeast infections.

Read Also: Difference Between Viral And Bacterial Pneumonia

Six Signs Your Heartburn Could Be Something More Serious

That burning, uncomfortable sensation in your chest? Itâs probably heartburn. Heartburn is a very common ailment that affects many people for many reasons. It occurs when digestive acid escapes the stomach and irritates the delicate lining of the esophagus.

Usually, itâs the result of eating certain foods, or simply overeating, and can be treated with over-the-counter antacids. But sometimes, heartburn is a symptom of bigger problems, that require other solutions. Hereâs when to call a doctor:

What Are The Main Causes Of Shortness Of Breath

1. Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the main causes of shortness of breath in people who dont have any other health problems. When faced with an anxiety attack, a panic attack, or highly stressful situations, the sufferer may feel short of breath or feel like they are suffocating.

In these cases, the key is to learn how to identify these attacks. When a person suffers from an anxiety attack, theyll first need to sit down to try to calm down. Then, they need to try to breathe normally to try to control the situation.

Often, its necessary to seek professional help from an expert who can teach them specific tools to help them cope with these types of situations and overcome them. Theres nothing wrong with getting some extra help. In fact, it can really make a difference and help prevent future attacks!

2. Excessive exercise

Sometimes, too much exercise, or carrying out exercise incorrectly, can lead to shortness of breath. This can happen both to people who are used to playing sports and to people who are in poor shape. However, its more common in people who have a sedentary life or who are overweight.

In these cases, the key is to adapt the activity to your individual physical condition and then increase the intensity as your capacity increases. Little by little, well be able to carry out more strenuous exercises.

When you feel shortness of breath, then you must slow down the pace of exercise and try to calm your breathing without panicking.

3. Heart problems

4. Pregnancy

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Defining Pneumonia By Origin Of Infection

Health care providers often classify pneumonia based on where the disease is contracted. This helps predict which organisms are most likely responsible for the illness and, therefore, which treatment is most likely to be effective.

Community-Acquired Pneumonia

People with this type of pneumonia contracted the infection outside of a hospital setting. It is one of the most common infectious diseases. It often follows a viral respiratory infection, such as the flu.

One of the most common causes of bacterial CAP is Streptococcus pneumoniae. Other causes include Haemophilus influenza , Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and Chlamydia pneumoniae .

How Can I Help Myself Feel Better

Laughing Makes Me Cough Shortness Of Breath

If your doctor has prescribed medicine, follow the directions carefully.

You may feel better in a room with a humidifier, which increases the moisture in the air and soothes irritated lungs. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, especially if you have a fever. If you have a fever and feel uncomfortable, ask the doctor whether you can take over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to bring it down. But don’t take any medicine without checking first with your doctor a cough suppressant, for example, may not allow your lungs to clear themselves of mucus.

And finally, be sure to rest. This is a good time to sleep, watch TV, read, and lay low. If you treat your body right, it will repair itself and you’ll be back to normal in no time.

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Severe Nausea Diarrhea And/or Vomiting

Although rare, propranolol can potentially cause severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in some people. These symptoms are often associated with an overly high dose of propranolol.

As with other serious side effects of propranolol, if you experience severe nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, you should contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

A Problem With Your Lungs Or Airways

Sudden breathlessness could be an asthma attack. This means your airways have narrowed and you’ll produce more phlegm , which causes you to wheeze and cough. You’ll feel breathless because it’s difficult to move air in and out of your airways.

Your GP may advise you to use a spacer device with your asthma inhaler. This delivers more medicine to your lungs, helping to relieve your breathlessness.

Pneumonia may also cause shortness of breath and a cough. It’s usually caused by an infection, so you’ll need to take antibiotics.

If you have COPD, it’s likely your breathlessness is a sign this condition has suddenly got worse.

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Drugs That Cause Shortness Of Breath: The Risk Of Abusing Drugs

Reviewed by Tania Kelly

Use of some medications may result in different side effects of drugs. Dyspnea, which is one of them, is very common affecting about 25% of patients in an ambulatory setting. Medically referred to as dyspnea, shortness of breath is the bodys inability to allow full flow of air into the lungs. This can be very painful and distressing. Some causes of Dyspnea include asthma, anxiety disorders, collapsed lungs, heart attacks, and exposure to drugs. Though it is rare, several drugs can contribute to dyspnea if they are abused.

This article will discuss drugs that cause shortness of breath and their effects on the respiratory system. Signs that indicate respiratory issues and how to treat respiratory problems that are drug-related will also be covered.

Pleural Effusions Empyema And Pleurisy

The 7 Causes of Shortness of Breath â Dr.Berg on Breathing Problems

There are two layers of tissue surrounding your lungs called the pleura. One wraps around the outside of your lungs and the other lines the part of your chest where your lungs sit. They help your lungs move smoothly when you breathe.

If your pneumonia isn’t treated, the pleura can get swollen, creating a sharp pain when you breathe in. If you don’t treat the swelling, the area between the pleura may fill with fluid, which is called a pleural effusion.

If the fluid gets infected, it leads to a problem called empyema. Tell your doctor if you are having any of these symptoms:

  • Hard time breathing
  • You don’t want to breathe deeply because it hurts

Your doctor may look for swelling or fluid with an X-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan. They might also give you an electrocardiogram to make sure that a heart problem isn’t the cause of your chest pain.

If you do have pleurisy, you may need medications that can stop the swelling.

For pleural effusions and empyema, your doctor may suggest a procedure that removes fluid from your body with a needle. Antibiotics are also an option to treat empyema.

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Is Walking Pneumonia Contagious If So How Is It Spread And Who Is Most At Risk

Yes, walking pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae is contagious . When an infected person coughs or sneezes, tiny droplets containing the bacteria become airborne and can be inhaled by others who are nearby.

The infection can be easily spread in crowded or shared living spaces such as homes, schools, dormitories and nursing homes. It tends to affect younger adults and school-aged children more than older adults.

The risk of getting more severe pneumonia is even higher among those who have existing respiratory conditions such as:

The symptoms of walking pneumonia may come on slowly, beginning one to four weeks after exposure. During the later stages of the illness, symptoms may worsen, the fever may become higher, and coughing may bring up discolored phlegm .

What Causes Shortness Of Breath In Copd

Shortness of breath is one of the main symptoms of both emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Most people with COPD have symptoms of both of those conditions, so shortness of breath is common.1

Emphysema can cause a feeling of breathlessness in different ways. It is a disease that affects the millions of tiny air sacs within the lungs. People with COPD develop emphysema due to damage to their lungs from breathing in irritants, such as cigarette smoke.

In healthy lungs, these air sacs have walls that are flexible and stretchy. To breathe in air, a muscle called the diaphragm uses energy to inflate the tiny sacs with air, like a balloon. To breathe out, the muscle relaxes and the tiny sacs bounce back to their smaller size and push the air out of the lungs without any effort needed.

Emphysema is caused by two kinds of damage to these air sacs in the lungs:

  • The walls of the air sacs lose their natural stretchiness
  • The walls that separate the air sacs from each other are destroyed

The first kind of damage means that instead of needing effort only to breathe in, people with emphysema need to use effort to breathe in and breathe out. This means they have to use twice as much effort to breathe as people with healthy lungs. This can cause a feeling of breathlessness.

Chronic bronchitis can cause breathlessness in other ways for people with COPD. This is because people with chronic bronchitis have airways that are partly blocked by:

Read Also: How Would You Know If You Had Walking Pneumonia

Is There A Vaccine For Pneumonia

There isnt a vaccine for all types of pneumonia, but 2 vaccines are available. These help prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. The first is recommended for all children younger than 5 years of age. The second is recommended for anyone age 2 or older who is at increased risk for pneumonia. Getting the pneumonia vaccine is especially important if you:

  • Are 65 years of age or older.
  • Smoke.
  • Have certain chronic conditions, such as asthma, lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, sickle cell disease, or cirrhosis.
  • Have a weakened immune system because of HIV/AIDS, kidney failure, a damaged or removed spleen, a recent organ transplant, or receiving chemotherapy.
  • Have cochlear implants .

The pneumococcal vaccines cant prevent all cases of pneumonia. But they can make it less likely that people who are at risk will experience the severe, and possibly life-threatening, complications of pneumonia.

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