Treatment for shortness of breath

Shortness of breath has various causes and the treatment is specific for every cause. In most cases, the only way to manage shortness of breath is to call for emergency assistance or bring the individual to a doctor or emergency department for proper assessment.

Aside from determining the exact cause for the shortness of breath, healthcare providers will be able to provide supplemental oxygen to help the individual breathe easier. Nevertheless, various first aid measures can be used to manage shortness of breath while waiting for the emergency team to arrive on the scene or until the individual can be get taken to the hospital.

Allow the individual to rest


The worst case scenario is when shortness of breath is triggered by a heart attack, poisoning or sudden lung problem.

The more energy is used, more oxygen is utilized and this worsens the shortness of breath. A strenuous exercise routine can leave the individual short of breath. It is best to take a break while exercising. In case you are not certain if an individual is experiencing breathing difficulty, you have to watch out for the usual symptoms.

Most comfortable position

There are various bodily positions that are supposed to provide more airflow than others. Some coaches regularly instruct athletes to hold their arms above their heads to maximize the expansion of the chest. As for paramedics, they assume the tripod position by sitting on the edge of a chair or bed and lean forward while the hands or elbows are propped on the knees. Remember that every individual is different though, thus allow the individual to decide on the position that he/she is most comfortable.

Call for emergency assistance

If resting in the preferred position of comfort does not seem to work after 2-3 minutes, it is best to call for emergency assistance. Shortness of breath has various causes and some of them are quite serious. The worst case scenario is when shortness of breath is triggered by a heart attack, poisoning or sudden lung problem. Calling for emergency aid will surely make a big difference between life and death. Always use your best judgement. If you feel that the individual is severely short of breath, call for emergency assistance right away.


Administration of oxygen is a special case that is used for individuals with chronic lung issues. If the individual has oxygen available, it should be used. During episodes of shortness of breath, the individual should use his/her oxygen as directed by the doctor.

The individual might have been informed by the doctor that too much oxygen for long periods can cause issues. You have to ensure the individual that an abrupt increase in the shortness of breath is instances in which oxygen is needed the most.

Managing the cause

There are various causes for shortness of breath and most of them are easily treated. Individuals who have asthma often have several tools and medications to deal with shortness of breath. Those who have lung infections should consult a doctor for proper treatment while heart attack victims might require an ambulance.


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