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What causes cough and shortness of breath? 68 possible conditions

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


Asthma Overview

Learn about asthma. Explore the types of asthma and read information about their symptoms, causes and treatments. Continue reading!

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Emphysema is a lung disease that, along with chronic bronchitis, represents a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Lack of oxygen may give skin and lips a bluish hue.

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Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic condition that affects the chambers of your heart. CHF refers to fluid buildup around your heart.

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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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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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Pulmonary Edema

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

Pulmonary edema is a condition in which the lungs fill with fluid. When this occurs, the body struggles to get enough oxygen, often resulting in breathlessness, coughing, excessive sweating, and bluish skin or lips.

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Lung Cancer Overview

Lung cancer is a cancer that originates in the lungs. Lung cancer often goes undetected in the early stages, since symptoms don't usually present themselves until the advanced stages of the disease.

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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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Bronchiectasis is a condition in which the bronchial tubes of the lungs are permanently damaged and enlarged, which causes infections and blockages in the airways, and gives the skin a blue appearance.

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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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Heart Attack Overview

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

A clot blocks the blood flow to the heart (heart attack), and damages heart muscle. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and a blue or grey tinge to the skin.

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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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Croup is a viral condition that causes swelling around the vocal cords. It is characterized by breathing difficulties and a bad cough that sounds like a barking seal. Many of the viruses responsible for croup also caus...

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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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Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition that causes lung scarring and stiffness. This keeps the body from getting enough oxygen.

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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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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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COPD Overview

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is a lung condition usually caused by smoking. It makes breathing difficult, and wheezing, tightness in chest, and chest infections are common.

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An empyema is a condition in which pus collects in the pleural space, which is the area between your lungs and the inner surface of your chest wall.

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RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) Infection

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common virus that causes infections of the lungs and airways. Common symptoms include fever, wheezing, and bluish skin from oxygen deprivation.

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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.