Shortness of breath / Dyspnea


At The Respiratory Practice, we provide quality,
professional medical services and genuinely care for you.

Shortness of breath / Dyspnea

This is a feeling of which there are not get enough air in your lungs and they are many causes. They can range from non-serious causes to life threatening causes and this should not be ignored. Common causes include:

  1. Lungs – asthma, infective bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism (blood clot in lungs), pulmonary hypertension(high blood pressure in lungs)
  2. Heart – heart valve leakage or abnormality, heart failure with water in the lungs,  holes between heart chambers
  3. Anemia – lack of red blood cells
  4. Brain – anxiety with hyperventilation
  5. Poor stamina/deconditioning
  6. Allergic nose with post nasal drip
  7. Gastro-esophageal reflux

In our specialist clinic, we see patients referred to us for shortness of breath. Our doctor will do a clinical assessment followed by the tests and investigations. These include:

  • Chest X-Ray
  • Lung function tests
  • Blood test including hemoglobin level and oxygen level in the blood
  • ECG- hearting tracing to look for abnormal rhythm

After all above tests are done and the cause is still unknown, further tests are required. These include:

  • CT chest – this is more accurate than chest XR and may show subtle findings that are not obvious on chest XR, including lung scarring, lung collapse, blood clot, COPD changes
  • Bronchoscopy – this is occasionally done if obstruction of the airway is suspected. Blockage of airway can be caused by foreign body, tumour mass etc.
  • Echocardiogram – ultrasound of the heart to look at the heart valves and the heart function
  • Treadmill test – to look for any lack of oxygen to the heart while doing physical exercise
  • Muscle and nerve testing – to look for any weakness of the breathing muscles

Treatment is dependent on the cause of shortness of breath.