Dyspnea Specialist

Respiratory, Critical Care, and Sleep Specialists

Pulmonology & Critical Care located in Des Plaines, IL & Portage Park, Chicago, IL

Shortness of breath, or dyspnea, is a frightening sensation that can make you feel like you’re suffocating. The experts at Respiratory, Critical Care, and Sleep Specialists diagnose and treat dyspnea at three clinics in Chicago, Des Plaines, and Oak Park, Illinois. If you experience unexplained shortness of breath, call the office as soon as possible. You can also book an appointment online.

Dyspnea Q & A

What is dyspnea?

Dyspnea is an uncomfortable condition that’s commonly known as shortness of breath. If you’ve ever felt breathless, or like you can’t get enough air, that’s dyspnea. People describe dyspnea as an unpleasant tightness in the chest or a feeling of suffocation.

What causes dyspnea?

Dyspnea can be a symptom of an underlying medical problem, or it may occur temporarily after an intense workout. Many health conditions can cause shortness of breath to come on suddenly, including:

  • Asthma
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Pneumonia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Collapsed lung
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Upper airway obstruction
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

If shortness of breath occurs suddenly and without a clear cause, seek emergency medical care right away. This may be a sign of a life-threatening problem, such as a heart attack.

Shortness of breath that doesn’t come on suddenly and persists for at least four weeks is considered chronic. The most common causes of chronic dyspnea are COPD, heart disease, and poor physical conditioning. Dyspnea related to asthma is both a chronic problem and acute (short-term) emergency.

How is dyspnea diagnosed and treated?

Because so many conditions can cause dyspnea, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis at Respiratory Critical Care and Sleep Specialists. Your skilled provider begins by carefully reviewing your symptoms and medical history. They perform a physical exam, focusing on your heart and lungs.

They may also take tests, such as:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Pulmonary function tests

After they diagnose the cause of your dyspnea, your provider develops a treatment plan to correct the underlying disorder. Depending on your needs, treatment may include:

  • Supplemental oxygen
  • Medications
  • Lifestyle changes like smoking cessation

Because shortness of breath is a symptom and not a disease, improvement depends on your ability to manage the cause. The team at Respiratory Critical Care and Sleep Specialists helps you create a plan to avoid potential dyspnea triggers so you can live a happier and healthier life.

If you or a loved one experiences shortness of breath, call Respiratory Critical Care and Sleep Specialists or book an appointment online today.