Causes of Severe Fatigue and Shortness of Breath

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Causes of Severe Fatigue and Shortness of Breath

Severe fatigue and a shortness of breath can interfere with your normal daily activities. It is frustrating and can interfere with your ability to participate in sports or effect your performance at work. Shortness of breath, or dyspnea, generally refers to difficulty breathing due to a lack of oxygen. It is a serious disorder. Learning more about the causes of this disorder can help you develop a treatment plan.

  1. Asthma

    • Asthma sufferers frequently suffer from shortness of breath and fatigue. You can be tested for asthma with a simple breathing test called a spirometry, which will give the doctor detailed information about how your lungs are working. You could have an obstruction in your airway. Asthma can be successfully treated with medications and inhalers.


    • Two of the most common symptoms of emphysema are shortness of breath and fatigue. With emphysema, lung capacity is drastically reduced. Smoking increases the symptoms of emphysema. If you are a smoker, quit now. You may not be able to reverse the effects of the disease, but it is possible to improve your condition.

    Spinal Cord Injuries

    • People with spinal cord injuries can suffer with fatigue and shortness of breath, among other symptoms. Over time, with rehabilitation and improvement in mobilization, these symptoms can improve. Losing weight can sometimes improve mobility and decrease the shortness of breath and fatigue symptoms.


    • One of the most common causes of fatigue and shortness of breath is overexertion. People who overexert themselves with work and exercise, often not getting enough sleep, can cause their body undue stress. The more severe the overexertion is, the greater the symptoms will be. Improving the diet, getting proper sleep and slowing down on activities can improve these symptoms.

    Emotional Disorders

    • People suffering from emotional disorders such as grief, phobias and anxiety disorders can sometimes experience temporary shortness of breath and fatigue. You may suffer hyperventilation, which is caused by breathing faster and deeper than necessary. People who experience panic attacks often hyperventilate. Getting the proper treatment from a health care professional for the emotional disorder is necessary to combat the fatigue, shortness of breath and other symptoms you are experiencing.

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    • If you are experiencing severe fatigue and shortness of breath, you should make an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation. He may do several tests, including X-rays, CT scans, an echocardiogram and blood tests.

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  • Photo Credit Image by, courtesy of Vincent Huang

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