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What can cause dyspnea?

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Quick Answer

Some common causes of dyspnea, or shortness of breath, include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and interstitial lung disease, according to Mayo Clinic. High altitude, strenuous activities, obesity and temperature extremes can cause shortness of breath in otherwise healthy individuals.

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Full Answer

Asthma is a chronic condition of the lungs characterized by inflammation of the airways, as stated by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Symptoms range widely in severity and include shortness of breath, coughing and tightness of the chest. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder is a progressive condition often caused by smoking, and patients may experience wheezing, chest tightness and a productive cough as well as shortness of breath. The condition is most common in middle-aged and older patients, and symptoms of COPD can eventually inhibit routine tasks, such as walking.

Interstitial lung disease is an umbrella terms for various illnesses that affect the interstitium of the lungs, as confirmed by WebMD. These diseases may be acute or chronic and include idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, interstitial pneumonia, sarcoidosis and asbestosis. Causes include certain bacteria, fungi and viruses as well as exposure to asbestos, silica dust or other irritants. Shortness of breath can result from numerous conditions affecting the heart, lungs and other parts of the body, so an affected person should make an appointment with a qualified health care professional for an accurate diagnosis, as recommended by Mayo Clinic.

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