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When Severe Shortness of Breath is a Warning Sign of Pneumonia

Having difficulty to breathe or feeling short of breath can be frightening, especially if it comes suddenly, within a few minutes or hours. It might feel as if you cannot get enough air or tightness, pain or pressure in your chest. There are many causes to shortness of breath, and most of them can be treated quick. Feeling out of breath does not cause damage to the lungs, but it is usually a warning sign to another health problems. It is actually a very common symptom to other serious conditions, including pneumonia.

What causes severe shortness of breath?

Severe shortness of breath usually occurs with other symptoms and can have different causes, including:

  • Respiratory infections, including pneumonia or bronchitis

  • Severe allergic reaction, anaphylaxis

  • Asthma

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

  • A foreign object blocking the respiratory tract, inhaled by accident

  • Blood clot blocking an artery in the lungs

  • The lung collapsing, pneumothorax

  • A heart attack, preventing the blood flow to the heart

  • Heart failure

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Low blood pressure

  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome

  • Myasthenia gravis

  • A normal change during pregnancy

When is it sign of pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of one or both lungs. As the air sacs get filled with mucus and other fluids, oxygen cannot reach the blood, leading to coughing and difficulty breathing. Pneumonia has a wide range of severity, from mild to even life-threatening. It can affect anyone at any age, but it is more common and serious for infants, the elderly. Also at risk are people who suffer from health problems like heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes or a weakened immune system.

If your shortness of breath is accompanied by the following symptoms, it may be a sign of pneumonia. Many of these symptoms may feel like a cold or the flu, but they last for a longer period of time.

  • Fever and shaking chills

  • Extreme sweating

  • Coughing, coughing with mucus

  • Chest pain that gets worse when breathing or coughing

  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing

  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

  • Confusion or unclear thinking and awareness

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Sore throat

When should you call Premier?

If you experience severe shortness of breath and suspect you have pneumonia, don’t ignore those symptoms! Contact Premier Care as soon as possible, especially if you are in the high-risk group. Pneumonia can worsen and cause complications if not treated properly.