Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

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

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 481 results

Wood fires and breathing problems - Farmer Health | Farmer Health

Smoke from slow combustion stoves, wood fires and also from burn offs and bushfires can cause breathing problems, especially for people who have previously been diagnosed with lung conditions like asthma or with heart disease. You may be affected by...

Read more on The National Centre for Farmer Health website

Breathlessness (dyspnoea) and cancer information | myVMC

Shortness of breath is a common symptom of advanced lung, breast and other cancers, caused by tumours or by treatments. It may cause anxiety and pain.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Idiopathic Subglottic Stenosis (ISS) (Idiopathic laryngotracheal stenosis (ILTS)) (Idiopathic tracheal stenosis) | myVMC

Idiopathic subglottic stenosis (ISS) is narrowing of the upper airway from inflammation and scar tissue, due to an unknown cause.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Breathlessness (shortness of breath) information | myVMC

Breathlessness and wheezing, also known as dyspnoea or difficulty breathing, may be a symptom of heart and lung diseases like COPD and emphysema.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Asthma in Childhood

Online videos and DVD's of the personal stories and patient experiences of children with asthma.

Read more on RealTime Health website

Asthma- The Risk Factors, Symptoms and Assessment

Asthma is a disease characterised by narrowing of the bronchial tubes due to inflammation. Symptoms include breathlessness, cough and wheeze.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

BNP and NT-proBNP - Lab Tests Online AU

Why and when to get tested for BNP and NT-proBNP

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Emphysema

Emphysema Category: Lung and Airway Health Topic: Emphysema Send by email View as PDF Send by post Emphysema is a condition where there is an over-inflation of structures in the lungs known as alveoli or air sacs

Read more on Queensland Health website

Tetanus

Tetanus is a serious bacterial disease that causes muscle spasms and breathing problems. The bacterium that causes tetanus is called Clostridium tetani. The bacteria produce toxins that affect the nervous system. Around one in 10 people infected with the bacterium that causes tetanus will die.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Brain Foundation | Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular Dystrophy Muscular Dystrophy Read more at Virtual Medical Centre Description Muscular dystrophy refers to a group of genetic (inherited) conditions that cause progressive deterioration of the body's muscles, with increasing weakness and disability

Read more on Brain Foundation website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback