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Breathing problem treatments

The type of treatment you need depends on how unwell you feel, how suddenly it has come on and what other conditions you might have.

Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance if you suddenly become so short of breath you can’t speak in sentences.

Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance if you feel short of breath and also:

  • have pains in your chest, arm or jaw
  • feel faint or sick.

Make an appointment to see your doctor if, as well as being out of breath, you:

  • have swollen feet or ankles
  • feel more short of breath when you lie down
  • have fever, chills and a cough
  • have blue lips or fingertips
  • make noises when you breathe
  • have to put a lot of effort into breathing
  • are getting worse.

If you see a doctor, the tests you might have include:

  • blood tests
  • X-rays and scans
  • breathing tests.

Treatments include:

  • help to quit smoking, if you smoke
  • medicines, including tablets and puffers
  • physiotherapy and exercises.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your breathing problems, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

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