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What causes shortness of breath and wheezing? 37 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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This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

When people with severe allergies are exposed to their allergen, a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can result: a series of symptoms such as rash, abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing and shock.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Pulmonary Embolism

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

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that affects blood flow to the lungs. It can damage part of the lung due to restricted blood flow, decrease blood oxygen. The most common symptom is shortness of breath.

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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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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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Respiratory Acidosis

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

Respiratory acidosis, also called respiratory failure or ventilatory failure, causes the pH of blood and other bodily fluids to decrease, making them too acidic. Respiratory acidosis occurs when the lungs can't remov...

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Heart Failure

Right-side heart failure occurs when the right ventricle can't properly pump blood to your lungs to collect oxygen. Excessive fatigue, shortness of breath and abdominal bloating are signs.

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

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Food Allergy Basics

Food allergies are overblown responses by the immune system to foods that aren't typically harmful - like eggs and peanuts. Continue reading and learn more about food allergies, and how to prevent or treat sever...

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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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Swallowed (or Inhaled) Foreign Object

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

Anyone can swallow a foreign object. However, infants and toddlers have a natural tendency to put things in their mouths, which puts them at higher risk.

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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.