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This information was reviewed and approved by Andrew M. Freeman, MD, FACC, FACP (12/1/2012).

Dyspnea, or shortness of breath, may indicate that your body is hungry for air. It tells you that something is not working right. There are many possible causes for dyspnea, including:

  • Obstruction of the air passages of the nose, mouth, throat from allergies, congestion, foreign objects, etc.
  • Strenuous exercise (especially when you don't exercise regularly)
  • Obesity
  • Acute pneumonia
  • Severe bronchospasm or asthma
  • Heart disease, coronary disease, and other heart conditions such as valvular disease
  • Chronic lung diseases
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Chest injuries
  • Emotional distress, anxiety
  • High altitude exposure
  • Extreme weather conditions (such as cold)

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