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Q&A: Exercise & breathing

Exercise and Fitness | August 10, 2017
When I'm exercising, I sometimes feel short of breath and hear wheezing in my lungs. What could this be?

It can be worrisome if you can’t catch your breath. In the short term, symptoms like shortness of breath and wheezing can be caused by common conditions like a cold. Even when you are getting over a cold, the symptoms of congestion can linger, causing difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing during exercise.

If you have not been recently ill and experience these symptoms, a visit with your provider can help pinpoint the cause. Common causes may include:

  • Asthma. Shortness of breath and wheezing are hallmark symptoms of asthma, a chronic condition affecting the airways of the lungs. If symptoms occur during or after exercise, the diagnosis could be exercise-induced asthma. Your provider can help you manage your symptoms.
  • COPD. A progressive lung disease that can cause shortness of breath is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The main cause of COPD is smoking, and the most common forms are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Early symptoms include coughing, excessive phlegm, shortness of breath, and wheezing.

Talk to your provider about any concerns you have about your breathing and your lung health.

This healthy living tip is courtesy of Divya Bappanad, MD.

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