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What causes breathing problems?

The most common causes of feeling short of breath are:

  • lung problems, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • heart problems, such as a cardiovascular disease and heart failure.

Other common causes of feeling short of breath include:

  • infections in the airways, such as croup, bronchitis, pneumonia, the flu and even a cold
  • any serious illness such as cancer
  • any widespread infection with fever
  • any chronic conditions such as muscular problems and neurological problems.

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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