Skip to Main Content

How to Handle Breathing Problems in Central California

Most people have felt winded or out of breath after exercising or other physical exertion. This is normal, and not at all related to breathing problems. Shortness of breath and other breathing problems are almost always medical emergencies. You may feel like you are struggling to breathe or like you can’t get air into your lungs at all.

Emergency doctors and nurses at Dignity Health Central California can diagnose the cause of your shortness of breath with personal care. If you or someone around you is experiencing breathing problems in Central California, call 911 or seek immediate help at one of our emergency rooms. You can use our online waiting service, InQuicker, to select your estimated arrival time to the ER.


Recognizing Breathing Problem Symptoms

A person experiencing a dangerous breathing problem will look like they are struggling to breathe — you may even see their chest expanding in a forced manner to help take in air. The person will look uncomfortable, and may seem panicked. It may be very difficult for the person to breathe in a lying position. Sitting up may provide some relief. 

Other signs and symptoms of breathing problems may include: 

  • Breathing rapidly
  • Agitation
  • Feeling anxious
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness

Breathing problems may occur with other symptoms, such as:

  • Coughing
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Bluish tint in the lips, fingers, or skin

You may also hear wheezing, gurgling, or whistling sounds.


What Causes Shortness of Breath?

Breathing problems can be caused by these emergency conditions:

  • Anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction
  • Heart attack or heart failure
  • Pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in the lung
  • Collapsed lung
  • Trauma
  • Asthma flare-up
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) flare-up
  • Pleuritis, inflammation of the lining around the lung
  • Pneumonia, an infection in the air sacs in the lung
  • Pulmonary hypertension, high blood pressure that affects the lungs


Treating Breathing Problems at Dignity Health Central California

How your doctor treats your breathing problem depends on the underlying causes and the urgency of your distress. If your situation is not life threatening, treatment will focus on the condition disrupting your normal breathing. 

If you observe someone having a serious breathing problem, call 911 right away and provide first aid until help arrives. Follow these steps: 

  • Loosen tight clothing.
  • If the person has medicines for breathing emergencies, such as an inhaler or an epinephrine autoinjector, give the medication.
  • If there are wounds, bandage them as best as possible.
  • Begin CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if the person stops breathing or there is no pulse. Be sure to check the airway for obstructions.

If there is an injury, try not to move the person. Do not try to prop up the person’s head or provide any food or drink.

Our emergency medicine doctors and staff are here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Dignity Health Central California delivers needed care for breathing problems in Bakersfield, Merced, San Andreas, and Stockton, CA.