What is breathlessness?

Breathlessness is a common symptom, and can be seen in several medical conditions. Dr Beckles believes that the history and examination are the essential start points for the assessment of breathlessness.

Causes of breathlessness include respiratory and cardiac causes.

During the history-taking, Dr Beckles will assess you to find out whether the breathlessness is acute or chronic, and look for pointers towards the diagnosis (such as airway problems; problems related to medication or metabolic disorders; problems related to lifestyle, such as smoking; recent hospitalisation; infections; or those related to social or environmental contacts). This is not an exhaustive list. In addition, the examination may highlight neuromuscular problems that may contribute to the symptom of breathlessness. In addition, Dr Beckles will request blood tests to check that you are not anaemic, and he may request further testing, such as a heart trace or electrocardiogram (ECG), an echocardiogram, imaging, for example a chest X-ray or CT scan, and lung function tests.

If necessary, Dr Beckles will arrange for you to see another specialist if the cause of breathlessness is outside his area of expertise (for example, a Haematologist).