Breathing difficulties can be described in several different ways. You may be short of breath, unable to take a deep breath, gasping for air, or feel like you are not getting enough air.
Difficulty breathing - first aid; Dyspnea - first aid; Shortness of breath - first aid
If you are having difficulty breathing, it is almost always a medical emergency (other than feeling slightly winded from normal activity like exercise or climbing a hill).
Difficulty breathing has many potential causes. Some of the most common are:
Collapsed lung, which can happen if you have emphysema or asthma, but may also happen spontaneously in young, healthy people
Heart disease, asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or heart failure
- High altitudes, which can be a problem even in young people
- Injury to the neck, chest wall, or lungs
Life-threatening allergic reaction
Pulmonary embolism, or a blood clot in the lung, which can cause very abrupt and severe difficulty breathing
- Sudden illness or infections like
pneumonia, acute bronchitis, whooping cough, croup, or epiglottitis