A healthy person breathes throughout life without being aware of it. But when a person becomes aware of the act of breathing it is distressing.
This condition is technically known as, “dyspnoea”. He or she has to exert more to breathe.
Breathlessness is associated with many uncomfortable sensations like palpitations, restlessness; sweating e.t.c. breathlessness is normal if somebody does severe unaccustomed exertion.
Sudden fright or anxiety or excitement can also produce breathlessness. But this is occasional and short lived. Similarly climbing uphill can produce dyspnoea in one who is not habituated to it.
Obesity also produces breathlessness. A fat man or woman starts panting just after walking few steps, but when they loose weight they can walk or work as much as a normal healthy person.
Breathlessness is also produced by a number of diseases. The most common harmless malady causing breathlessness is a choked nose. Every person must have had experienced the discomfort caused by a choked nose some time. But this is a harmless condition and short lived.
Bronchial asthma is another common cause of breathlessness. The moment one prone to asthma is exposed to dust or fumes, or a change in weather, he or she starts suffering from shortness of breath.
This is a reversible condition. Medicines provide relief and the affected person remains comfortable till the next attack.
Long standing anemia is also a cause for breathlessness. Those who smoke for a long time, develop chronic damage to the lungs .Result is productive cough and breathlessness on slight exertion.
Quitting smoking at this stage helps to prevent further damage to the lungs, but the one already occurred cannot be undone. Therefore smokers need to watch out for this condition.
Persons working in factories or mines or quarries are also prone to develop similar condition because of chronic exposure to dust of various kinds.
Some unfortunate people suffer from deformity of the spine. These deformities cause disfigurement, difficulty in walking and even breathlessness. Because, due to the deformity, space of the lungs is encroached upon hampering good functioning.
Chronic lung diseases like pulmonary tuberculosis or chronic pneumonias damage the lung not only during the active disease, but also during healing by producing scarring, leading to breathlessness.
Any allergy is known to induce severe breathlessness. But the breathlessness subsides, once the offending drug is withdrawn.
A more sinister reason for breathlessness is pulmonary edema, where fluid accumulates in the lungs, as in cardiac failure, cirrhosis of liver, kidney failure, severe anemia, e.t.c. All these conditions are irreversible in the sense that with the medication given, symptoms are abated but the basic underlying pathology continues in most of the cases thus perpetuating breathlessness.
The problem of breathlessness develops slowly. Initially the affected person gets breathless on doing the amount of work; he or she is not habituated to.
Later on the amount of work done to induce dyspnoea reduces i.e. the affected person gets breathless easily. Up to this stage, if the underlying cause is corrected, the problem of breathlessness can be cured.
But if the cause persists, this problem persists and is aggravated. In the later stages, the person becomes breathless even on sitting and lying down. The poor sufferers spend whole night, sitting up.
Chronic breathlessness not only troubles a person it affects his work also. Severe breathlessness can be fatal.
Early diagnosis and therapeutic intervention can help prevent progress of a disease causing breathlessness.
Avoiding smoking and chronic exposure to dust is useful to prevent lung diseases. Maintaining a good general health and resistance by means of balanced diet, regular exercise, disciplined life and good exposure to sunlight and air, keeps away the diseases causing breathlessness.
Breathing exercises are very useful in keeping patients of spinal deformity, asthma and chronic lung diseases comfortable and free from breathlessness.
Thus one should not breathe well till last in life, but on slightest problem of breathing he should take immediate steps to get it halted.