Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.


Orthopnea Overview

What is orthopnea?
Orthopnea is shortness of breath that is triggered by lying flat. When orthopnea becomes severe the person will often prop themselves up with two or more pillows to make breathing easier. Orthopnea is a common symptom of heart or lung disease. One of the most common causes of orthopnea is congestive heart failure.

What other symptoms are often associated with orthopnea?
There are a number of symptoms that are commonly associated with orthopnea, such as paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea and dyspnea on exertion. Other symptoms include rapid breathing rate, rapid pulse, wheezing, cough, chest pain, excessive sweating, and leg swelling.

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

FreeMD is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for evaluation and treatment by a physician. Please review our terms of use.