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Stethoscope on table


Breathing should be the most natural thing in the world but sometimes it can seem a struggle and it’s important to work out why.

What is Breathlessness?

It’s a sensation that breathing is difficult or uncomfortable.  It can be normal with strenuous exertion but when it occurs with simple exertion then that can be a cause for concern.

What are the symptoms or signs of Breathlessness?

It can manifest itself as a fast breathing rate or panting.  It can be associated with other symptoms such as wheezing or chest tightness.

What are the causes of Breathlessness?

There are multiple causes.  It can simply reflect poor fitness or deconditioning. However there can be specific medical conditions including  Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Bronchitis, Pneumonia Pulmonary Embolism, Small Airways Disease, Heart Failure, Hyperventilation and Pulmonary Fibrosis.

X-Ray of the lungs

How is Breathlessness diagnosed?

The doctor will ask a variety of questions and also listen to your chest.  An oxygen probe on your finger will give information too. Breathing tests, Xrays and sometimes blood tests may be required. 

How is Breathlessness treated?

The treatment will depend on the underlying cause(s).  It may involve exercise or losing weight. Inhalers are commonly used to open up the breathing tubes.  Tablets may be required in some cases.


The New Victoria Hospital
184 Coombe Lane West
Kingston Upon Thames
Surrey KT2 7EG