Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.


Dyspnea on Exertion Overview

What is dyspnea on exertion?
Breathing difficulty or dyspnea is the feeling that the act of breathing requires more effort than usual. Dyspnea on exertion is excessive or abnormal shortness of breath on exertion. Dyspnea on exertion is a common symptom of heart or lung disease. One of the most common causes of dyspnea on exertion is congestive heart failure.

What other symptoms are often associated with dyspnea on exertion?
There are a number of symptoms that are commonly associated with dyspnea on exertion, such as increased shortness of breath when lying flat (orthopnea) and sudden waking in the middle of the night short of breath (paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea). Other symptoms include rapid breathing rate, rapid pulse, wheezing, cough, chest pain, excessive sweating, and leg swelling.

How does the doctor treat dyspnea on exertion?
Treatment for dyspnea on exertion depends on the underlying cause. Options include oxygen, heart medications, diuretics, antihypertensives, and bronchodilators to reverse wheezing.

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