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Dyspnea/Difficulty Breathing

What is dyspnea or difficulty breathing?

Dyspnea is defined as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. It is a common occurrence in sufferers of lung cancer, and is sometimes referred to as "air hunger."

How does it occur?

While lung cancer is a common cause of dyspnea instances, it can also be caused by a number of conditions, including:

  • COPD
  • Physical exertion
  • And many more

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of dyspnea include difficulty catching one's breath or getting enough air into one's lungs. Some patients report that they feel as if they're suffocating during instances of dyspnea. These periods of breathlessness can lead to panic, causing the breathing difficulties to worsen.

How is it diagnosed?

When you suffer from dyspnea, your healthcare provider will need to conduct a thorough evaluation to determine what underlying condition might be causing it. Your physician will examine your airways, breathing and circulation, and may conduct a physical examination as well as other, more specialized tests. In some cases, a chest X-ray and blood tests may be taken.

How is it treated?

Treatment for dyspnea is dependent upon its root cause. Treating the underlying condition is the primary goal of dyspnea treatment. In some cases, supplemental oxygen may be necessary.

How can I take care of myself?

When you experience an occurrence of dyspnea, calming your breathing and breaking the cycle of breathlessness is the primary goal. This can be achieved by practicing controlled breathing with pursed lips, by practicing abdominal breathing techniques or by relaxing.