The shortness of breath is also known as respiratory distress or dyspnea, in medical terms.
Dyspnea is nothing more than the sensation of suffocation and chest tightness due to difficult breathing. Its intensity is not directly related to the severity of the disease that may be causing it and may be influenced or caused by emotions, personality, and external stimuli.
This sensation is one of the most frightening for the patient since he may feel imminent death.
Main symptoms of shortness of breath
The main symptoms that the patient may experience can be:
· Discomfort to breathe
· Difficulty breathing.
· Feeling of choking, suffocation, or suffocation.
· Chest tightness
· Inability to breathe in the necessary air.
Shortness of breath or dyspnea can be classified into 5 degrees depending on the symptoms and when they originate:
· Dyspnoea grade 0: respiratory distress that originates when carrying out intense physical activity (running, climbing, swimming, etc.)
· Grade I dyspnoea: shortness of breath that arises from walking fast or with a slight incline.
· Grade II dyspnea: respiratory distress that originates when walking short distances and at a normal speed, the person reports feeling tired when walking a distance less than one block.
· Grade III dyspnea: it is the respiratory difficulty that originates when walking short distances, the patient refers not being able to walk more than 100 meters without feeling tired and without having the need to stop and rest.
· Dyspnea grade IV: feeling short of breath even when at rest. The patient reports respiratory distress when lying down or sitting.
There is another classification, described by the New York Heart Association known as the NYHA scale for its acronym. It is used to qualify dyspnea of cardiac origin:
· Class I: There is no limitation of physical activity, ordinary activity does not cause fatigue, dyspnea or chest pain. The patient maintains a normal lifestyle.
· Class II: Slight limitation of physical activity, the patient is calm as long as he remains at rest. Ordinary activity causes fatigue, dyspnea, or chest pain. The patient reports these symptoms when climbing stairs or lifting weight.
· Class III: Marked limitation of physical activity, the patient reports feeling good when at rest but the slightest activity triggers fatigue, dyspnea or chest pain. The patient reports symptoms simply by combing or dressing.
· Class IV: the patient presents symptoms even while at rest, any physical activity worsens the clinical picture.
Causes of dyspnea
Respiratory difficulty is the main reason why patients consult the pulmonologist, but what they do not know is that lung or airway conditions are not the only causes of this alteration.
Various factors can cause respiratory distress, even in totally healthy patients. In a practical and simple way, it can be classified taking into account its three most common origins:
It occurs when the cardiovascular system does not function properly for physiological or anatomical reasons, for example in patients with heart failure that arises when the function of the heart is impaired or the heart muscle is not able to pump enough blood to supply the organs, muscles and tissues of the body.
Respiratory distress from pulmonary causes is one of the most common. In this category, the organ responsible for gas exchange and providing oxygen to the blood is affected, that is, the lung. Like the other structures that help to carry out this process.
Main respiratory disorders
The main respiratory disorders or pathologies that can cause dyspnea are:
· Asthma: where there is evidence of a decrease in the caliber of the airways, specifically the bronchi, which prevent the passage of air to the lung.
· Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs in which the airway is obstructed. Symptoms include, in addition to shortness of breath, coughing, excessive mucus production, and wheezing. The main cause of this disease is cigarette smoking for a long time.
· Pneumonia: pulmonary infection where the presence of alveolar infiltrate does not allow the correct exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
· Pulmonary collapse: caused by the entry of air or the presence of fluid (blood, pleural fluid or pus) in the pleural cavity, that is, in the space that forms between the layer that covers the lung and the one that is attached to the cavity thoracic inside.
· Pulmonary embolism: blockage of the pulmonary artery by a blood clot.
Within this classification we get those causes that are not directly related to the heart or lungs. For example, metabolic acidosis, anemia, pain, anxiety, neuromuscular diseases, among others.
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