Shortness of breathe

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Sometimes it can be hard to know how serious your shortness of breath is. In fact, sometimes the most severe shortness of breath can be something that’s not life-threatening—like hyperventilation or a panic attack, and the mildest symptoms can be related to serious causes.

Serious causes can be accompanied by other symptoms.

When to Call 911

Symptoms that suggest shortness of breath may be serious include:

  • Chest pain
  • A bluish tinge to your fingers or lips (cyanosis)
  • Swelling or a feeling of fullness in your throat or lips
  • Lightheadedness
  • Inability to talk due to difficulty breathing
  • Rapid worsening of your symptoms
  • Redness or swelling of your legs
  • Coughing up blood

If you are trying to decide whether to call 911, it’s best to get urgent help.

Some of the causes of shortness of breath can be life-threatening and need immediate medical attention.

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