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Shortness of Breath

Woman looking scared | Healthier Me Today

What is shortness of breath? Shortness of breath is a condition or moment when a person feels out of breath and has difficulty breathing. Shortness of breath is typically a symptom of a bigger problem or situation. The feeling is strange; people may feel a tightening in their chest, pain, pressure, and an uncomfortable squeezing sensation.

What Causes Obesity

There are many causes of shortness of breath. Some people feel this way because of a symptom of a health condition, while others feel shortness of breath when engaging in activities. Below are a few common causes.


Patients can feel a shortness of breath when they are obese. Obesity increases the pressure and weight on a body’s lungs and chest. The condition is painful but can be prevented and treated. It does not last forever.


When overexerting yourself while exercising, you can find yourself out of breath. This feeling is normal as you are getting used to a new activity. Always remember to breathe out of your nose to calm the racing of your heart. The feeling gets better as you exercise and practice; however, be careful not to overdo it as you can feel faint.


Asthma patient inhaling medication | Healthier Me Today

Asthma is a respiratory condition that people are typically born with. Babies with asthma have airways that naturally swell and narrow. The airways get smaller and fill with mucus which makes it difficult to breathe. Sometimes this condition is developed with underlying causes like untreated obesity.


Pneumonia is a Pulmonary and respiratory infection that causes difficulty breathing, uncomfortableness, and coughing with mucus. It is an infection that does go away but needs medication and monitoring as it can worsen.

What are the Symptoms of Obesity?

The causes are all different, and yet the symptoms for each cause are the same. People who feel a shortness of breath most likely have these common symptoms:

  • Tightening of chest
  • Out of breath sensation
  • Heart rapidly beating
  • Difficulty breathing in
  • Pressure of chest
  • Pain while breathing in or out

Diagnosing Obesity

Overweight Elderly Man | Healthier Me Today

Each condition requires its own diagnosis. Truthfully though, most of the time, a lifestyle change is necessary. However, if you are sick with an infection or asthma, your doctor may want to take a look at your lungs with an X-ray or CT scan. This way, they can see the mucus and inflammation and rule out any other respiratory conditions.

Other times, if you are sick with a cold, for instance, a doctor may simply do a physical check-up with a stethoscope to listen to your breathing. Once they rule out any serious conditions, both treatment and management can start.

Treatment and Management

Treatment depends on the condition, but you can always manage and prevent shortness of breath with a few lifestyle changes like not smoking. The air and fumes harm your lungs and cause lung cancer and asthma. Instead of smoking, go for a walk or pick up a new hobby.

It would be best if you also exercised regularly with activities like cardio. These activities strengthen not only your outside body but also the inside, like your lungs. Activities that are great for increasing the strength of your lungs are Aerobics, Cardio, Running, walking, jogging, and swimming.

With more serious health conditions, you should always monitor your symptoms. For example, if you have asthma, there are triggers that can worsen your condition. It is possible, however, to grow out of asthma as you grow older. Until you do, though, you should always keep an inhaler on you for emergencies!


  1. Is it normal to feel shortness of breath? Sometimes! With activities that require a lot of movement, it is normal to feel out of breath. Exercise is exhausting, and it pushes our bodies to be stronger. This includes our lungs. However, if you are out of breath walking or standing up, you should go to the doctor to get checked.
  2. How can I prevent feeling a shortness of breath? It is not always possible to prevent this feeling. However, if you are experiencing shortness of breath because you are exerting yourself, take a deep breath from your nose to calm and steady yourself. This way, you don’t overdo it. Always know your limits and breath through your nose, not your mouth, when exercising. 

Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!

Ask Doctor Carol

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