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Dyspnea is breathing discomfort. It is often described as shortness of breath and can occur during rest or activity.


Follow up with your healthcare provider or specialist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Breathing strategies:

  • Reposition yourself: Lean forward on your elbows when you sit. This helps your muscles expand and may make it easier to breathe.
  • Pursed-lip breathing: This can be used any time you feel short of breath. Breathe in through your nose and then slowly breathe out through your mouth with your lips slightly puckered. It should take you twice as long to breathe out as it did to breathe in.

Do not smoke:

If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking increases your risk for dyspnea as well as lung and heart damage. Ask for information if you need help quitting.

Follow your treatment plan:

This includes taking medicines to help manage medical conditions such as lung or heart disease. Follow your exercise and weight loss plan as directed by your healthcare provider.

Contact your healthcare provider or specialist if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your signs and symptoms are the same or worse within 24 hours of treatment.
  • You have shaking chills or a fever over 102°F.
  • You have new pain, pressure, or tightness in your chest.
  • You have a new or worse cough or wheezing, or you cough up blood.
  • You feel like you cannot get enough air.
  • The skin over your ribs or on your neck sinks in when you breathe.
  • You have a severe headache with vomiting and abdominal pain.
  • You feel confused or dizzy.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.