Shortness of breath, or dyspnea, is an uncomfortable condition that makes it difficult to fully get air into your lungs. Problems with your heart and lungs can harm your breathing.
Some people may experience shortness of breath suddenly for short periods of time. Others may experience it over the long term several weeks or more.
Shortness of breath has become widely associated with this illness. Other common symptoms of COVID-19 include dry cough and fever.
Most people who develop COVID-19 will only experience mild symptoms. However, seek emergency medical attention if you experience:
- trouble breathing
- persistent tightness in your chest
- blue lips
- mental confusion
If your shortness of breath isn’t caused by a medical emergency, you could try several types of home treatments that are effective at helping alleviate this condition.
Many simply involve changing position, which can help relax your body and airways.
Prevention of Breathing Difficulties
There are many steps you can take to help you avoid breathing problems. To start:
Stay hydrated. Taking in plenty of fluids helps keep the mucus in your respiratory system thin, so it can trap large particles that you breathe. This helps your lungs cleanse themselves.
Be active. “Like the rest of your body, vigorous activity gives your lungs a good workout, which helps expand their capacity,” Varner says.
Lose weight if your body mass index is 30 or higher. Being significantly overweight or obese forces your heart and lungs to work harder, which can make breathing more difficult and aggravate conditions like COPD that are linked to shortness of breath.
Minimize your exposure to smog. Check daily air pollution forecasts in your area at AirNow.gov. Keep windows closed and limit your time spent outdoors when levels are high.
Reduce pollutants in the home. These include secondhand smoke, bleach and chemicals in cleaning products, mold from standing water, burning wood, and scented candles, according to the ALA.
Gray also advises airing out freshly dry-cleaned clothes by hanging them in your garage for a few days before bringing them into your home and opening your windows for a little while on days when the air quality is good.