Few sensations are as frightening as not being able to get enough air. Shortness of breath — known medically as dyspnea — is often described as an intense tightening in the chest, air hunger, difficulty breathing, breathlessness or a feeling of suffocation.

Very strenuous exercise, extreme temperatures, obesity and higher altitude all can cause shortness of breath in a healthy person. Outside of these examples, shortness of breath is likely a sign of a medical problem.

If you have unexplained shortness of breath, especially if it comes on suddenly and is severe, see your doctor as soon as possible.

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June 13, 2020

See also

  1. Acute coronary syndrome
  2. Acute kidney failure
  3. Acute lymphocytic leukemia
  4. Acute myelogenous leukemia
  5. Albuterol side effects
  6. Allergies
  7. Allergies and asthma
  8. Allergy medications: Know your options
  9. Allergy-proof your home
  10. Alpha-gal syndrome
  11. Amniotic fluid embolism
  12. Amyloidosis
  13. Anemia
  14. Angina
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  16. Aortic aneurysm
  17. Aortic calcification: An early sign of heart valve problems?
  18. Aortic dissection
  19. Aortic valve regurgitation
  20. Aortic valve stenosis
  21. Aplastic anemia
  22. ARDS
  23. Asbestosis
  24. Ascariasis
  25. Aspergillosis
  26. Aspirin allergy
  27. Asthma
  28. Asthma and acid reflux
  29. Asthma attack
  30. Asthma diet
  31. Asthma inhalers: Which one's right for you?
  32. Asthma: Colds and flu
  33. Asthma medications
  34. Asthma: Testing and diagnosis
  35. Asthma treatment: 3 steps
  36. Atrial fibrillation
  37. Atrial fibrillation and managing stress
  38. Atrial septal defect (ASD)
  39. Automated external defibrillators: Do you need an AED?
  40. Avoid rebound nasal congestion
  41. Blood Cancers and Disorders
  42. Blood clots during menstruation: A concern?
  43. Blood tests for heart disease
  44. Mitral valve clip to treat mitral regurgitation: Bob's story
  45. Bradycardia
  46. Mitral valve overview
  47. Aortic Surgery: What Patients Need to Know — Mayo Clinic
  48. How kidneys work
  49. Jack Long — Live Long, Beat Strong to Find a Cure
  50. A leaky tricuspid valve
  51. Leaky Valve Cone Procedure
  52. Mayo Clinic offers congenital heart care: Marcus' story
  53. Screenings of newborns and athletes for genetic heart disease
  54. Video: Septal myectomy and apical myectomy
  55. Treating Pericarditis
  56. Valve problems in children with heart disease: What patients and families should know
  57. Video: Valve-Sparing Aortic Root Replacement
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  59. Broken heart syndrome
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  64. Cardiac asthma: What causes it?
  65. Infographic: Cardiac sarcoidosis: A heart under attack
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  71. Chelation therapy for heart disease: Does it work?
  72. Chest pain
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  80. What are congenital heart defects? An expert explains
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  82. Infographic: Congenital Heart Disease and Lifelong Care
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  84. Congenital heart defects FAQs
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  88. What is coronary artery disease? A Mayo Clinic cardiologist explains.
  89. Coronary artery disease FAQs
  90. Coronary artery spasm: Cause for concern?
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  92. COVID-19: How can I protect myself?
  93. Herd immunity and coronavirus
  94. COVID-19 and pets
  95. COVID-19 and your mental health
  96. COVID-19, cold, allergies and the flu
  97. COVID-19 drugs: Are there any that work?
  98. Long-term effects of COVID-19
  99. COVID-19 in babies and children
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  101. COVID-19 travel advice
  102. COVID-19 vaccines for kids: What you need to know
  103. COVID-19 vaccines
  104. COVID-19 variant
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  120. Does older age increase the risk of atrial fibrillation?
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  136. Fight coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission at home
  137. Flu Shot Prevents Heart Attack
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  139. Four Steps to Heart Health
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  147. Healthy eating: One step at a time
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  189. Infographic: Lung Transplant for Cystic Fibrosis
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  191. Mayo Clinic Minute: You're washing your hands all wrong
  192. Mayo Clinic Minute: How dirty are common surfaces?
  193. Median arcuate ligament syndrome (MALS)
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  198. Mitral valve regurgitation
  199. Mitral valve stenosis
  200. MRI: Is gadolinium safe for people with kidney problems?
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  202. Myelofibrosis
  203. Myelofibrosis
  204. Myocardial ischemia
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  208. NSAIDs: Do they increase my risk of heart attack and stroke?
  209. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
  210. Obstructive sleep apnea
  211. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
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  213. Omega-6 fatty acids
  214. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
  215. Ozone air purifiers
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  217. Peanut allergy
  218. Pericardial effusion
  219. Pericarditis
  220. Planning to travel with atrial fibrillation?
  221. Pleurisy
  222. Pneumonia
  223. Pneumonitis
  224. Pneumothorax
  225. Polycythemia vera
  226. Polyhydramnios
  227. Polymyositis
  228. Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?
  229. Post COVID syndrome
  230. Pregnancy and atrial fibrillation
  231. Pregnancy and COVID-19
  232. PrEP to prevent HIV
  233. Protein: Heart-healthy sources
  234. Pulmonary atresia
  235. Pulmonary edema
  236. Pulmonary embolism
  237. Pulmonary fibrosis
  238. Pulmonary hypertension
  239. Pulmonary valve stenosis
  240. Put fish on the menu
  241. Red wine, antioxidants and resveratrol
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  243. Researchers Develop New Stents for Complex Aortic Aneurysms
  244. Rheumatic fever
  245. Robotic heart surgery treats mitral regurgitation: Ed's story
  246. Robotic or minimally invasive cardiac surgery for adult-adolescent congenital heart disease
  247. Safe outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic
  248. Safety tips for attending school during COVID-19
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  250. SCAD 2 Social Media as a Lifesaving Link
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  253. Should I make changes to my diet if I've been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation?
  254. Sick sinus syndrome
  255. Silent heart attack
  256. Sleep apnea
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  258. CPAP masks
  259. Small vessel disease
  260. Somatic symptom disorder
  261. Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD)
  262. Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD)
  263. Heart disease prevention
  264. Sudden cardiac arrest
  265. Sudden death in young people: Heart problems often blamed
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  267. Super Survivor Conquers Cancer
  268. Tachycardia
  269. Takayasu's arteritis
  270. Test anxiety: Can it be treated?
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  273. Thalassemia
  274. Thoracic aortic aneurysm
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  276. Transposition of the great arteries
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  278. Tricuspid atresia
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