People could ask very bizarre questions, that veers your medical mind off the tract. Examples “doc I have shortness of breath it must be heart failure? “ doctor, I find it difficult to breath, especially in this harmattan, it must be asthma.” “Doctor my elder sister has asthma, each time I start coughing, my younger brother, a medical student will frighten me by saying that I have asthma like our elder sister (edited)”.” Doc, my legs are swollen, and I have shortness of breath, they said it is heart failure. How can heart failure lead to swelling of the legs, and shortness of breath”? Etc
Over the years I had always tried to give individual replies to multiple medical questions, in form of calls, texts, emails, whatsapp and Twitters. But regularly, I am forced to discuss some of the questions my respondents ask, in my Doctor Sun’s weekly column, without revealing their names, so that others could learn. Like today’s topic, I have had tonnes of questions (metaphorically speaking), concerning shortness of breath, heart failure and asthma.
Have you ever found yourself gasping for air, after climbing a story building staircase. Now relate it to your age. Are your legs occasionally swollen? Are you above 40? Are you hypertensive? Now let me break it down for you. If your answer was yes, to each of the questions above. It may be that your heart is enlarged, what we call ccardiomegaly. But if you are below 40, without the numerated symptoms then you could have respiratory tract infection, asthma or you are just simply SSG out of form, due to lack of exercise.
You must also be observant what dusts you are inhaling within your environment, especially during harmattan. Something like ordinary dusts, pollen and other toxins you breath in, could cause allergy, whenever that happens please consult your doctor.
Do you know that anxiety could lead to shortness of breath. You may have difficulty in breathing when you are scared or worried. It is usually not a big deal, but it can be serious, if you already have lung problem like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Sudden stress like a car accident, could trigger an attack. Even if you are otherwise healthy, anxiety might cause you to breath fast enough to get light headed,and easily pass out.
Life style changes that could help in shortness of breath include – quit smoking and avoid tobacco smoke. Avoid exposure to pollutants, allergens and environmental toxins. Lose weight if you are obese or overweight. Avoid exertion at high elevations. Stay healthy by eating well, get enough sleep. Consult your doctor for any underlying conditions. Always be medically guided.
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