I am having difficulty breathing. Should I be concerned?

There’s nothing better than breathing in that crisp, refreshing Rocky Mountain air. Sometimes, you may have difficulty breathing from a nagging cold or allergies, and while both conditions are uncomfortable, you know it isn’t a medical emergency. What happens, however, when you feel like something is serious? You don’t want to go to the closest emergency room for nothing, but you can’t shake this nagging feeling something is really wrong.

Breathing problems are often described as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Breathlessness

When to go to the closest emergency room

Breathing problems can be caused by a variety of conditions ranging from severe allergic reactions to heart attacks. If you are having trouble breathing and have more severe symptoms than a normal cold or allergy, seek medical help at the closest ER to determine the severity of the problem.

Some of the common conditions treated at an ER for difficulty breathing include:

  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart attack
  • Allergic reaction
  • Blood clot in the lungs

If you have difficulty breathing and any of the below symptoms, seek medical attention at your closest ER as soon as possible.

Asthma attack symptoms include:

  • A whistling sound when you breathe out
  • Persistent cough
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Paleness in the face
  • Tightness in the neck and chest

Pneumonia symptoms include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the back of the neck
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Pain in left arm
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Cold sweat
  • Tightness in chest, arm and neck

Allergic reaction symptoms include:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Swollen airways
  • Nausea

Lung blood clot symptoms include:

  • Sharp chest pain
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Bluish skin
  • Splitting up blood

Altitude sickness

Altitude sickness is not uncommon for people who are unaccustomed to an elevated climate like Denver. While altitude sickness is usually not worthy of a trip to the ER, it is important to keep in mind if someone you know is experiencing difficulty breathing and does not have some of these more serious symptoms.

If breathing problems are severe don’t take an unnecessary risk. Call 911 or head to the closest emergency room.

Find the closest ER