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What causes cough, headache and shortness of breath? 22 possible conditions

See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.


Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is your body's response to specific allergens. It causes uncomfortable symptoms like sneezing and itchy eyes.

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Cold and Flu Overview

Common colds and influenza are contagious infections that affect the respiratory system. Both are airborne illnesses, spread through coughing and sneezing. Shared symptoms include headache, cough, sore throat, and more.

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Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. General symptoms include chest pain, fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

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Swine Flu

Swine flu, also known as H1N1, is a highly contagious virus with symptoms similar to common influenza types. It spreads quickly from person to person, and can linger on tables and surface areas.

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Tuberculosis (TB) is a highly infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs. A severe and long-lasting cough, fever, and night sweats could indicate an active TB infection.

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The Atypical Facts About Atypical Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection that causes inflammation of the lungs. Atypical pneumonia is a kind that isn't caused by the bacteria that causes typical pneumonia.

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MRSA (Staph) Infection

MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus) is a type of contagious bacterial infection that is resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics. CA-MRSA typically causes lesions that are red, swollen, and painful to touch.

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Allergies Overview

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

An allergy is the immune system's response to a foreign substance (allergen) that is not typically harmful to a person's body. This attack response may involve inflammation, sneezing, and a host of other symptoms.

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Infectious Mononucleosis

Infectious mononucleosis, or "mono," is a group of symptoms caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. One potential symptom is a pink rash that looks like the measles.

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Chronic Bronchitis

People often develop acute bronchitis after a viral chest infection. Blue-colored lips ankle or foot swelling can result.

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Learn about sarcoidosis and its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and potential complications.

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Acute Mountain Sickness

Acute mountain sickness (altitude sickness or high altitude pulmonary edema) occurs in high altitudes, especially when exercising. A lack of oxygen can give the skin and lips a blue tinge.

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Histoplasmosis is a noncommunicable disease caused by certain fungal spores. Red bumps on the lower legs are one sign of this condition.

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Absence of Gamma Globulin in Blood

Agammaglobulinemia (AGMX) is an inherited immune system disorder. Passed from parent to child, it is also known as Bruton’s agammaglobulinemia, congenital agammaglobulinemia, and X-linked agammaglobulinemia. AGM...

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Bird Flu

Bird flu, also called avian influenza, is a viral infection that can also infect humans and other animals. However, most forms of the virus are restricted to birds. H5N1 is also the most common form of bird flu. No...

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Aspergillosis is an infection, allergic reaction, or fungal growth caused by the Aspergillus fungus. The fungus usually grows on decaying vegetation and dead leaves. Being exposed to the fungus does not necessarily mea...

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Malignant Hypertension (Arteriolar Nephrosclerosis)

This form of high blood pressure comes on very quickly and requires immediate medical help. You're especially at risk if you already have hypertension or smoke.

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Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)

Coccidioidomycosis, also known as valley fever, is a fungal infection that starts in the lungs and can potentially spread to the rest of the body. Fever, chills and sweating are common.

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This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Anthrax is a serious illness caused by a microbe that lives in soil, called Bacillus anthracis. Inhalation may result in cold and flu symptoms; signs of ingestion include nausea and abdominal pain.

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SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a particularly serious form of viral pneumonia. In addition to fever, dry cough, breathing problems, and several other symptoms, one symptom of SARS is a rash.

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This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.