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What is Dyspnea, and When Should It Concern You?

22 Feb 2017
| Under Lung Disease, Medical, Related Conditions | Posted by | 10 Comments
What is Dyspnea, and When Should It Concern You?

Feeling a little short of breath? You’re in the right place.

The state of feeling out of breath can be deeply distressing, and for nearly a third of those with lung disease, it is a condition that is frequently debilitating. In short, we need oxygen to live, and to feel as though that has been cut off—even momentarily—can be a terrible ordeal. Unfortunately, for those who live with chronic lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis or emphysema, this struggle to breathe can be a daily occurrence. Although there are a variety of alternative treatment options available such as inhalers, oxygen, and stem cell therapy, for many Americans, shortness of breath (also known as dyspnea) is a symptom of lung disease that can have a significantly detrimental effect on quality of life.

With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to give you the information you need to figure out What is Dyspnea, and When Should It Concern You?

So, What is Dyspnea?

As we mentioned earlier, dyspnea is the condition of feeling out of breath. Although this condition is typically used to describe general breathlessness, in chronic cases, it is most often associated with chronic lung disease. For those who live with lung diseases such as COPD, pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema, the feeling of breathlessness can be a continuous source of stress and fatigue. In judging whether or not one has dyspnea—particularly if experiencing it habitually—it is important to refer to a physician as soon as you feel that something is amiss.

In the cases of COPD diagnoses specifically, many Americans are not diagnosed until they have progressed to stage 3 or 4 because the feelings associated with breathlessness are often attributed to old age. If you are feeling particularly breathless after any strenuous or engaging activity, it is vitally important to go see your doctor, describe these symptoms as accurately as possible and get a spirometry test as soon as possible. In treating lung disease, time is a continual factor when looking to save one’s quality of life from further damage.

How Do You Cope with Dyspnea?

In the course of coping with dyspnea, the solution is similar to treating chronic lung disease; it starts with changing one’s lifestyle. For starters, quit smoking. At the Lung Institute, we cannot stress this enough. Quitting smoking is incredibly difficult, and for those who have smoked since they were teenagers and young adults, quitting the habit of smoking is similar to changing a core aspect of your personality.

It’s not easy, and for 80% of people who try to quit, they fail. And that’s okay. It may take a while to quit but the act of trying is what’s most important because continued smoking will only decrease your lifespan. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to drop the habit, the next step is addressing your diet and getting more exercise. Start slow and give yourself room to fail. Missteps and mistakes are okay as long as you stay focused on your goal and pick yourself back up.

When Should Dyspnea Concern You?

What is Dyspnea, and When Should It Concern You?

The problem with COPD and other lung diseases is that they often go undiagnosed until the disease has progressed to a more dangerous stage. In addressing the concerns of lung disease, it’s critical to know yourself and your body. Monitor your body closely and take note when something inside doesn’t feel quite right. Seeking medical help promptly can help you address your condition proactively. If you’ve been feeling out of breath consistently for a few weeks now, it may be time to take a trip to the doctor.

Moving Forward

The feeling of breathlessness or dyspnea can often be debilitating. As a core symptom of chronic lung disease, frequent shortness of breath can have a devastating effect on your quality of life. However, by changing your diet, consistently exercising and quitting smoking, it’s possible to greatly affect the pronouncement of symptoms within those with COPD, pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema. When lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than simply addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life. As in the case of Don C., stem cell therapy can mean the difference between struggling to get out of bed to getting through his day-to-day activities without oxygen.

If you or a loved one has a chronic lung disease like COPD, PF or ILD, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult stem cell treatment options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for stem cell therapy, and find out what stem cell therapy could mean for you.

Interested in our article on What is Dyspnea, and When Should It Concern You? Share your thoughts and comments below.


  1. Phoebe

    2 months ago

    Hi Don,

    At this time, stem cell therapy for chronic lung diseases is not covered by insurance. While we are hopeful that treatment will be covered in the future, it may take some time. We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell therapy, so feel free to give us a call at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Don

    2 months ago

    When will stem cell be covered by the insurance?

  3. Phoebe

    2 months ago

    Hi Shirley,

    First and foremost, we’re sorry to hear about the challenges you have been facing with shortness of breath. People with chronic lung diseases often have difficulty with shortness of breath. It’s important to tell your pulmonologist about the severity of your shortness of breath. Your pulmonologist may want to perform certain tests like a pulmonary function test, oxygen saturation test or exercise tolerance test. Often, shortness of breath associated with chronic lung disease doesn’t go away. However, there are things you can do to help reduce shortness of breath. Because shortness of breath is frustrating and scary, many people feel anxious, and anxiety may worsen shortness of breath. Staying calm is the first step. You can read more about tips to cope with shortness of breath by clicking here. And, remember to talk with your doctor. Because your doctor knows you and your health situation well, he or she will be able to best guide you.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  4. Shirley blank

    2 months ago

    I’m 74. For the past 20 years my breathing has been getting worse. Last year i felt like i was dying. I could hardly walk 1/4 of a block. I had to hold on to walls. Chairs. Anything within reach. I am overweight. I had pneumonia and was hospitlized for a week during which time they. Did a cT scan and said i needed surgery for a Hugh hiatial hernia. I had surgery there were complications which kept me in the hospital for 2weeks and then rehab for more than a month. Now I am seeing pulmonologIsts. Is the shortness of breath permanent? I swim for exercise almost every day for the last 35 years. I used to play tennis but had to stop about 9 years ago.

  5. Matt

    4 months ago

    Hello Joy,
    Thank you for your question. Please give us a call at (855) 313-1149. That way our staff can learn more about your brother’s medical situation and determine if he is a candidate for stem cell therapy. Thanks again and have a great day.

  6. Joy

    4 months ago

    My Brother was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. we went through all the tests for a transplant but he was denied. he is currently on seven liters of oxygen all the time. we have exhausted all of our know options. I was wondering if stem cell therapy would be an option for him.

  7. Phoebe

    5 months ago

    Dear Joy,

    Thanks for your comment and questions. First and foremost, we’re sorry to hear about the challenges you have been facing with back surgery and shortness of breath. It’s important to have an open line of communication with your doctor. If you feel like you would like to see a pulmonologist, you can discuss it with your doctor to gain his or her advice. Doctors may use a variety of procedures or tests to help them make a lung disease diagnosis, such as chest x-rays, CT scans, blood tests, pulmonary function tests and more. It’s best to discuss your questions and concerns with your doctor. Because your doctor knows you and your health situation well, he or she will be able to best guide you. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  8. Joy Walsh

    5 months ago

    I had OPEN BACK SURGERY JUNE 2016 & my recovery has gone well & last set of x-rays was great(THANK you Lord )! Walking is the absolute best to do for my back. But just within the last 3 months I’ve had shortness of breath when I just walk short distances (<1/4 mile). my dr looked for problems w/my heart and from blood work, echocardiogram, nuclear stress test & chest xray – everything appears to be ok. The chest xray did show a large hiatal hernia & because I've taken acid reflux medicine for at least 30 yrs, he's scheduled me for an endoscopy – April 27th. I have never been a smoker but both parents did. My father had copd For yrs, did not pass from that though, mother had ovarian cancer-died from complications. In your opinion do you think i should tell my dr.that I would like to be referred to a pulmonlogist next? Chest xrays-would they show issues with my lungs such as some type of lung disease?

  9. Matt

    6 months ago

    Hello Elizabeth,
    Thank you for your post. First and foremost we’re sorry to hear about the struggles with your health. At times it can be difficult, but remember to stay positive. If you are still unsure about your current lung health, please tell your doctor about your concerns. Because your doctor knows about your health situation the best, they will be able to guide you through this process. If you are interested in learning more about stem cell therapy and the Lung Institute, please give us a call at (855) 313-1149. Thanks again and have a great day.

  10. Elizabeth

    6 months ago

    Had pnmecocial pneumonia 3 yrs ago. Admitted to hospital. In for 5 days. Asked if I had lung cancer due to my father passed away from it. I was terrified. DR. SAID THAT THEY WOULD DO A CAT SCAN NEVER had, asked if it was COPD FORMO SMOKER. KNOW CONFORMATION. SHE NEVER CAME NEAR ME OUR LISTEN TO MY LUNGS 3 wks later urgent care. Dr. Took crazy. Comment “your lungs are terrible. DX Copd, Asthma, sinusitis. Use daily inhaler. Got bronchitis. What y if my lungs are so bad I have no different DX. I’LL NEVER RETURN TO OCALA REGIONAL HOSPITAL. I’M TERRIFIED WITH KNOW ANSWERS. WHEN BREATHING IS BAD ANXIETY IS OUT OF CONTROL AND HARDER TO BREATHE… WHAT DO I DO. JUST DIE??? Help me please

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

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