Galleria (214) 238-6270 | Park Cities (214) 238-6440

Having shortness of breath can be a normal part of life. If you’ve been exercising or been physically active, it’s common to experience some temporary changes in breathing. However, when shortness of breath comes on suddenly and you’re not sure what’s wrong, then it’s time to go to Advance ER where board-certified physicians are ready to help you at a moment’s notice.

You may ask, when is your shortness of breath serious? Here are 3 signs that your breathing difficulties need immediate medical intervention:

It’s Acute or Severe

You don’t have to do anything special for the symptoms of chronic shortness of breath to show itself. It can be a change in the weather, the use of cleaning products or a common cold that opens the door. Spring weather in Texas can lead to allergy attacks, bronchitis and pneumonia. Any one of these conditions can reduce lung function and capacity. As a result, you can feel weak and run-down. If you’re finding it difficult to breath, especially while laying down, you need to get to the emergency room.

It Interferes with Life and Work

If you have been diagnosed with asthma or COPD, severe shortness of breath is particularly dangerous. “If you’ve been experiencing a chronic case of shortness of breath—especially with chest pain, wheezing, coughing, swollen ankles or other symptoms—it could be one of several serious conditions,” says Advance ER Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Peters. “It’s a good idea to come in right away if you are having trouble breathing so we can try to help you. If it’s a disease or long-term condition, you need to know how to treat it as soon as possible.”

It’s Accompanied by Chest pain, Nausea and Fainting

There are several conditions you could be experiencing if your shortness of breath is accompanied by any of these three symptoms. Their severity can range from a moderate to high threat. In the heat of the moment, it should never be considered a waste of time to get to the emergency room for any of these conditions.

  1. Anxiety Disorders. Experiencing moments of high stress is normal. Anxiety disorders are characterized by episodes of intense fear, worry and sheer panic that can be crippling. They may seem out of proportion to the situation at hand, they can be triggered by any situation and can be experienced by anyone.
  2. Angina. If you can feel it in your chest when you’ve overexert yourself, it could very well be angina. You get a squeezing or tightening pain in your chest, or it can be dull like indigestion. An episode doesn’t last long, and is usually better with rest. But as a symptom of coronary artery disease, it needs to be diagnosed and treated by your physician.
  3. Heart Attack. Everyone experiences the early warning signs of a heart attack differently. You experience pain in varying degrees, or you may experience cardiac arrest as a first symptom. The key is to trust your body. While you can express your pain or discomfort, make someone aware then call 911.

What Causes Shortness of Breath?

This is a short list of many different things that could be causing your breathing difficulties:

  • Asthma
  • Fluid around the heart
  • Low blood pressure
  • Blood clot
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart failure
  • Hernia
  • Blockage in airway
  • Heart or lung disease
  • Anemia
  • Obesity

What tests will be run by my Advance ER doctor?

Your physician will immediately treat your breathing problem if you are in distress. “After the patient’s breathing is more stable, we will do a complete physical exam including blood pressure, listening to the heart and lungs and checking the abdomen,” says Dr. Peters. “After that, we will do a blood test to check for infection and pulmonary function tests to check oxygen levels and more. These tests will help us narrow down the cause of your breathing problem.”

Advance ER is available in two locations for your convenience:

Meet Dr. Nick Peters

Nick Peters, M.D., FACEP, is board-certified in emergency medicine. He received his medical degree from Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, NE, and he completed two emergency medicine programs from LAC King/Drew Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, and University of Arizona Medical Center, Tucson, AZ.

Dr. Peters’ two decades of experience includes his past positions as the Medical Director and Chairman of Emergency Medicine for a major hospital, Regional Medical Director, and Vice President of Medical Operations for a national health care provider. He transitioned from corporate medicine to become a founding Managing Partner and the Chief Medical Officer for Advance ER where his commitment to quality patient service continues.