Jefferson University Hospitals


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Many factors can cause dyspnea, or shortness of breath, such as strenuous exercise or extreme temperatures. Breathlessness can occur gradually over years or can come on much more abruptly depending on the cause. Dyspnea can be a symptom of many serious diseases affecting the lungs, the heart, circulation, blood or represent general ill health (obesity, orthopedic pains, etc.).

If you are having sudden severe shortness of breath, call 911 immediately or go to the nearest emergency room.

If you're receiving care at Jefferson University Hospitals, our pulmonologists will evaluate your condition by:

  • Getting a complete medical history
  • Performing a physical examination
  • Assessing your airway, breathing and circulation
  • Taking a blood test, breathing tests and tests for your oxygen level
  • Ordering a chest X-ray or a test for the heart

Based on your diagnosis, we will recommend the appropriate treatment methods for dyspnea.