Possible causes of shortness of breath during exertion?

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The shortness of breath during exertion has various causes. In most cases, it is due to issues with the lungs, heart or airways. Other issues that might cause shortness of breath during exertion include lung issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Even asthma can affect the airways and cause shortness of breath. Additionally, congestive heart failure can also cause shortness of breath. If you want to learn how to manage this usual symptom, you can register for first aid training today. If the individual suffers from persistent shortness of breath, it is best to consult a doctor for proper assessment.


It is important to note that asthma is quite similar to chronic bronchitis which involves the narrowing of the airways along with excess production of mucus. Nevertheless, chronic bronchitis is always present while asthma is instigated by highly sensitive airways. The usual triggers of asthma include dust, animals, smoke, weather changes and exercise. Once the condition is triggered, the constricted airways will cause shortness of breath.

Shortness of breath-exertion
Angina and heart attacks can also lead to shortness of breath and typically instigated by the constricted arteries in the heart.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has been considered as a single disease with two variants – chronic bronchitis and emphysema. An individual with COPD possesses elements of both. With emphysema, it involves the loss of the normal lung tissue. Carbon dioxide and oxygen are not exchanged with the environment in an efficient manner due to the tissue loss, making it hard to compensate for the high demand of oxygen during exertion. As for bronchitis, it involves the narrowing of the airways which makes it hard to transfer air between the lungs and the atmosphere as well as the clogging up of the narrow airways with mucus.

Congestive heart failure

When it comes to congestive heart failure, it occurs once the heart is weakened due to coronary artery disease, heart attack or infection. As a consequence, the kidneys do not received enough blood and react by holding fluid in the body, thus adding to the workload of the heart. The fluid will back up into the lungs and tissues. Take note that the fluid in the lungs along with the added strain on the weakened heart will eventually lead to shortness of breath while the individual is engaging in any physical activity.

Other possible issues

Other health issues can also cause shortness of breath while exertion. The formation of blood clots in the lungs called as pulmonary emboli usually cause shortness of breath. Angina and heart attacks can also lead to shortness of breath and typically instigated by the constricted arteries in the heart. When an individual is at high altitude, a limited supply of oxygen is available to the lungs, thus causing shortness of breath. Additionally, if the individual lacks exercise as well as obesity are also contributing factors to be considered.

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