Shortness of breath while walking? These Are Possible Causes

Shortness of breath while walking? These Are Possible Causes

Shortness of breath or the medical term is dyspnea is a sensation of discomfort when breathing. The conditions and intensity can vary from person to person.

Shortness of breath can be acute or chronic. It is said to be acute when the symptoms of shortness of breath appear suddenly and last about several hours to several days. Meanwhile, in chronic shortness of breath, symptoms occur over a long period of time, around more than 4 to 8 weeks.

Physical activity, such as walking, for example, can trigger or worsen shortness of breath for some people. The causes can range from anxiety, asthma, obesity, or other medical conditions. For more details, here are some possible causes for you to experience shortness of breath when walking.

1. Anxious

Its prevalence is not known with certainty, because most people do not take medical intervention steps for the diagnosis process

Apart from shortness of breath, symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Sweating
  • Agitation
  • Feelings of being out of control
  • Feeling scared or panicked
  • Fast heart rate
  • Muscle tension
  • A person experiencing anxiety is likely to feel restless which results in feelings of tiredness or shortness of breath.

2. Asthma

Asthma is a medical condition that has a different severity for each patient. In other cases, exercise such as walking leisurely can trigger asthma. This does not rule out people with asthma may show symptoms of shortness of breath when walking.

Asthma symptoms other than shortness of breath, namely:

  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Mild chest pain
  • Often have fever or eczema

Some cases of people with mild asthma do not always need medical care, but rather manage symptoms from avoiding things that can trigger symptoms, such as dust, mites, and cigarette smoke.

3. Obesity

People who are obese tend to be at risk for medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

It is not uncommon for people with obesity to experience shortness of breath when doing daily activities, for example walking.

People who are obese are strongly advised to consult a doctor or dietitian to help improve a balanced healthy diet. Addressing underlying mental health problems is also sometimes helpful.

4. Heart arrhythmias

Cardiac arrhythmia is a condition in which the heart beats abnormally. In some cases, a person may not experience and feel the symptoms, while others can feel them, one of which is shortness of breath when walking.

Symptoms of arrhythmias to watch out for include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Irregular heartbeat and tends to be fast


Basically, the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias is based on the type of arrhythmia the patient is experiencing. In the process of medication and treatment, your doctor may prescribe medications to prevent, stop, or control heart arrhythmias.

In some cases, people with heart arrhythmias may need defibrillator implants, cardioversion, and another procedure called catheter ablation.

5. Diseases related to the lungs

Shortness of breath is closely related to the respiratory organs, namely the lungs. Some lung diseases that can cause shortness of breath include:

  • Pneumonia or pneumonia, is a lung infection that can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Symptoms include a fast heartbeat, short and rapid breaths, pulmonary crackles, and fever.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is inflammation of the lungs that develops over a long time. A common cause of COPD is long-term exposure to secondhand smoke, although other types of air pollutants can also be a cause. Apart from shortness of breath when walking, other symptoms of COPD include wheezing, muscle weakness, and barrel chest.
  • Pulmonary embolism or blockage of blood vessels in the lungs. The most common symptoms of pulmonary embolism are shortness of breath, pain, coughing, bloody saliva, and being unconscious due to low blood pressure.
  • Interstitial lung disease, refers to lung disorders in the form of chronic inflammation and injury to the organ. Symptoms include gradual shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing.


Mild cases of shortness of breath may be resolved by avoiding triggers and doing simple breathing exercises. Meanwhile, serious cases of shortness of breath may indicate a medical condition that needs to be treated as soon as possible.

If you often experience shortness of breath when walking, you should consult a doctor. The doctor can perform examinations and a series of diagnostic procedures in order to determine the cause and provide appropriate treatment.

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