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Treating Emergency Breathing Problems at Dignity Health

It’s normal to feel winded if you’ve been exerting yourself or exercising. Breathing problems are much different. They range from being short of breath to gasping for air to feeling like you can’t get any air at all into your lungs, even when sitting still. 

Breathing problems are almost always medical emergencies. Seek immediate care at a Dignity Health emergency room or call 911 if you or someone you are with are having breathing problems. Dignity Health provides trusted, nationally recognized emergency services and can diagnose and treat the cause of your breathing problems in Sacramento, CA and the surrounding areas. 

Causes of Shortness of Breath

Some emergency causes of breathing problems are: 

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


Breathing Problem Symptoms

People with dangerous breathing problems may look like they are struggling to breathe and are uncomfortable. You may even be able to see their chest moving to help them breathe. Other signs and symptoms of breathing problems include:

  • Breathing rapidly
  • Coughing
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling anxious
  • Blue color to their skin, lips, or fingers
  • Confusion
  • Tiredness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Agitation
  • Whistling, wheezing, or gurgling sounds

It may also be very difficult for the person to breathe when they are lying down. Sitting up may provide some relief.


Advanced Treatment for Breathing Problems in the Sacramento Region

At Dignity Health, our treatment of breathing problems depends on the underlying cause. For serious breathing problems, call 911 or seek emergency medical care right away. You can apply first aid until medical personnel arrive by using the following steps:

  • Loosen tight clothing.
  • Provide any medicine the person has for breathing emergencies, such as an epinephrine autoinjector or an inhaler.
  • Bandage any wounds, if possible.
  • Start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), if necessary, after checking their airway, breathing, and pulse. 

Try not to move the person if there is an injury. Do not give the person any food or drink or prop up their head.

At the hospital, our highly trained emergency doctors and staff can determine the cause and provide personalized treatment. Rely on our team to deliver exceptional care and use the most advanced techniques and technologies.

Dignity Health offers emergency care for shortness of breath throughout the Sacramento region.