Exercise Induced Shortness of Breath

What is Exercise Induced Shortness of Breath?

Even professional athletes experience shortness of breath, or dyspnea, when exercising. But if an individual experiences breathlessness regularly, even when engaging in simple activities or light exercise, it may be a symptom of a more serious condition.

How does Exercise Induced Shortness of Breath affect your child?

Children are often very active and play a lot of sport. As well as the obvious health benefits of sport, for many children it is their main form of social interaction. Exercise Induced Shortness of Breath may therefore have a significant impact on their lives. It may be due to an underlying and treatable cause and so it is worthwhile speaking with your doctor if you feel your child is affected.

What are the causes of Exercise Induced Shortness of Breath?

Shortness of breath when exercising may be caused by:

  • Overexertion
  • Asthma
  • Hyperventilation
  • Physiological (natural) limitation
  • Panic attacks or anxiety
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Upper airway issues
  • Chest wall abnormalities

Exercise Induced Shortness of Breath Symptoms

Breathlessness is a symptom, rather than a condition, but patients who suffer from shortness of breath may also experience:

  • Wheeze
  • Anxiety (breathing difficulties are distressing)
  • Exhaustion
  • Tight feeling in their chest (like a band)
  • A feeling of suffocation
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Dizziness

Breath Shortness Diagnosis

The doctor will perform a physical examination and then ask questions about your child’s medical history. They will also want to know:

  • Whether breathlessness was sudden, or an ongoing problem
  • Wh ether there are any other symptoms (i.e. cough or pain)

Additional testing will vary depending on your child’s symptoms. Doctors may order:

  • Blood tests
  • Chest x-rays
  • CT Scans
  • Lung function tests
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Exercise  testing

Breath Shortness Treatments

Breath Shortness Treatments

Treatment for exercise induced breathlessness will vary depending on the underlying cause. Possible treatments may include:

  • Bronchodilators (drugs which widen the airways)
  • Inhaled Steroids
  • Montelukast
  • Breathing exercises
  • Cardiovascular/Athletic training
  • Treatment of anxiety