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Lung diseases

Shortness of breath

09/15/2008

Question:

I am a 44 year old female working in the administrative sector. A couple of months back, I started experiencing shortness of breath (it was more like a gasp for breath with heavy breathing)especially during the mornings and afternoons. I have a history of childhood asthma and suffered from chronic bronchitis during my late 30s`. I had a `bout of pneumonia two years ago and it seems that my lungs function had sort of deteriorated.

I have not been exercising at all other than walking to and from the office to the subway station.I have not been sleeping well lately(I sleep with the air-conditioning on because of the traffic noise). My office airconditioning is rather cold (between 19 - 23 degrees) and I have been working in this office for a couple of years.

I suffer from cold hands and feet too. I have to catch my breath if I talk to my colleagues. Recently, I saw the GP for head and neck stiffness and partial loss of vision in the right eye and she booked me an appointment to the neurologist as she suspected TIA. Should I be seeing the chest and lung specialist as well? Thank you.

Answer:

There are many things that can cause shortness of breath. While most of these things are due to abnormalities in the respiratory system, other problems such as cardiac disease or anemia also need to be considered. I would encourage you to discuss your shortness of breath in detail with your GP who can initiate a basic evaluation and then arrange for referral to a specialist if necessary.

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Response by:

Jennifer  McCallister, MD Jennifer McCallister, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University