What are the Causes of Common Breathing Problems?

We live because we breathe. Breathing is an important function of our body and every cell in our being depends so much on this process to carry out their individual task. So be thankful for every gulp of air that fills your lungs. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have a good set of lungs.

Breathing problems can cause a lot of inconvenience to people. If you suffer from breathing problems, then it will be difficult for you to perform your daily tasks without experiencing shortness of breath. Breathing problems are currently experienced by 15.7% of the American population according to CDC. This is the reason why a greater understanding of breathing problems is important so that you will know how to deal and manage your breathing problem.

There are many reasons why people suffer from breathing problems. Many common breathing problems are either acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). These problems cause different symptoms including a runny nose, nasal congestion, watery eyes, wheezing, cough, shallow, and labored breathing. So, what exactly causes these irritating and sometimes dangerous breathing problems? Below are the common causes of common breathing problems.


COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and it is a type of progressive lung diseases. There are many diseases that are classified under COPD which include emphysema and bronchitis. COPD makes it very difficult for people to breathe. People also experience tightness of the chest and wheezing. Moreover, they experience a recurrent cough as they have a strong need to clear their throat most of the time.

This condition is caused by smoking and exposure to irritants in the air. Unfortunately, there is no cure for COPD but the treatments that are available can help manage the complications as well as improve the quality of their lives. If left untreated, it may lead to worsening respiratory infections and heart problems.


Asthma is a type of inflammatory disease of the lungs. People who have asthma find it difficult to breathe, with their attacks being characterized by wheezing, coughing and tightness of the chest. Asthma occurs when the lining of the air passages in the bronchi become inflamed and the muscles around the air passages tighten. There are different types of asthma, including the following:

  • Allergic asthma: This type of asthma is triggered by allergens like food, mold, pet dander, dust and pollen.
  • Non-allergic asthma: Caused by irritants present in the air such as cigarette smoke, air fresheners, cold air, perfumes and household cleaning products.
  • Exercise-induced asthma: As the name implies, this type of asthma occurs a few minutes after doing a physical activity.


Bronchitis is the inflammation of our bronchial tubes. Bronchial tubes deliver air to the lungs. People who have chronic bronchitis have trouble breathing because the bronchial tubes are filled with mucus. Bronchitis can be either acute or chronic. While the former is usually caused by viral infection and lasts for 10 days, the latter persists for a few weeks. This condition is also often associated with asthma. Symptoms of bronchitis include a cough, nasal dripping, and pneumonia if not treated properly.


A disease of the lungs, emphysema is common among smokers and people who are commonly exposed to irritants. This condition destroys the air sacs also called alveoli. The alveoli are the site in the lungs where oxygen exchange happens. Once the air sacs are destroyed, they become weak, thus reducing the capability of the lungs to take in more air. This also reduces the amount of oxygen that is sent to the bloodstream.

Emphysema is an irreversible condition and usually takes years to develop. The signs of emphysema include exhaustion, weight loss, and faster heart beat because the heart is also working more to get more oxygen. Moreover, people who suffer from emphysema develop bluish-gray fingernails or lips due to the lack of oxygen. This condition is lethal if not treated right away.


Breathing problems are not only caused by anomalies in the lower respiratory tract. In fact, even minor diseases like sinusitis can cause breathing problems. Sinusitis is a condition wherein the lining of the sinuses within the nose cavity gets inflamed. It is often caused by viral infection. People who suffer from sinusitis often experience excessive mucus production that drains through the nose and its many channels. It is also characterized with a fever, toothache, headache and tenderness of the cheeks and forehead.

Congestive Heart Failure

Heart problems can also cause breathing problems. Congestive heart failure is a chronic condition that affects the pumping ability of your heart thus fluid buildup within and around the heart. The fluid that has built up around the heart is eventually pumped back into the abdomen, lungs, liver and the lower body. This condition does not only cause shortness of breathing but it is also a life-threatening condition that needs to be addressed fast.

Schedule a Consultation

With good management, breathing problems can be controlled. If you suspect any of these common breathing problems, it may be time to discuss a prevention and treatment plan with your doctor. To get you started, discuss and review your treatment options in order find the perfect option for you. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Shukla today, for treatment options.

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