Causes Make an Appointment Refer a Patient Ask a Question Reviewed by Andrew M. Freeman, MD, FACC, FACP (December 01, 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) Diagnosis Clinical Trials For more than 100 years, National Jewish Health has been committed to finding new treatments and cures for diseases. Search our clinical trials.