Despite Symptoms Its Not The Flu
COVID-19 is not the flu.
As one of a class of pathogens known as coronaviruses, COVID-19 is actually more closely related to the common cold than the seasonal flu.
However, despite some overlap, the typical symptoms of COVID-19 are more similar to the flu than the common cold .
The Delta variant, however, may have more cold-like symptoms.
In terms of differentiating between flu and COVID-19, it can be almost impossible to distinguish, Dr. Jake Deutsch, co-founder and clinical director of Cure Urgent Care and Specialty Infusion in New York. Thats why people are recommended to have flu vaccinations so it can at least minimize the risk of flu in light of everything else.
Fevers, body aches, coughing, sneezing could all be equally attributed to them both, so it really means that if theres a concern for flu, theres a concern for COVID-19, Deutsch said.
When and where you get sick might be the best predictor of whether you have a cold, the flu, or COVID-19, Yildirim said.
People living in communities with low vaccination rates and high rates of COVID-19 are more likely to have COVID-19, she said, especially outside of cold and flu season.
However, she said, differentiating becomes more difficult during the winter, when all three diseases may be widespread.
If you have a mild case of COVID-19, the flu, or a cold, treatment is geared toward management of symptoms, said Cutler.
Mild cases of COVID-19 are thought to last approximately 2 weeks, said Cutler.
Heart And Lung Issues Are Often To Blame For Breathlessness But An Accurate Diagnosis May Require Advanced Testing
Like your heartbeat, the regular inhale and exhale of your breathing is something you usually don’t notice until something doesn’t feel quite right. Shortness of breath can result from a range of problems, including an allergic reaction, an anxiety attack, or anemia. But most often, the underlying cause is a heart or lung condition.
“Because these two organ systems are so intertwined, one always affects the other,” says Dr. Aaron B. Waxman, who directs the Pulmonary Vascular Disease Program at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In fact, about 60% of people with heart disease also have a lung disease. As a result, it’s not always easy to distinguish cardiac and pulmonary issues, he says.
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What Is Shortness Of Breath
Shortness of breath is a common symptom of allergy, infection, inflammation, injury, or certain metabolic conditions. The medical term for shortness of breath is dyspnea. Shortness of breath results when a signal from the brain causes the lungs to increase breathing frequency. Shortness of breath may come on suddenly, within seconds or, it may occur over days, weeks or months. Severe shortness of breath can be frightening. You may feel like you’re being suffocated, with a tight chest and a feeling of air hungerthat you can’t take in the air that you need.
You may experience shortness of breath because of conditions affecting the lungs, the entire pulmonary system, or in association with more generalized conditions, such as obesity or low blood pressure .
Sometimes shortness of breath has common, relatively non-serious causes, such as following a bout of intense exercise. Shortness of breath in pregnancy is also a common and usually harmless condition, which occurs most often in early and late pregnancy due to hormones and other factors related to the growing baby. Other times, being short of breath indicates a severe condition requiring medical attention.
Inflammation of the lungs and bronchial tubes are common causes of shortness of breath, as is injury to the respiratory tract caused by smoking or other toxins. Shortness of breath may occur with injury to the lungs, such as a collapsed lung .
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Early Asthma Warning Signs
Learning to recognize early warning signs of an impending asthma attack can help you better manage your asthma. Changes often occur before or at the beginning of an asthma attack. These signs can be subtle, so its important to recognize them. Such signs include:
- Frequent coughing
- Coughing during or after physical activity
Using a peak flow meter is an important tool in managing your asthma. This device measures how well air flows through your lungs, and it detects narrowing even before an asthma attack occurs. A peak flow meter can detect these changes hours and sometimes days before an asthma attack.
Your provider may have you measure your peak flow once a day to find your highest average number over a two- or three-week period. The goal is to create an action plan based on the highest peak flow number.
Ultimately, you want to stay within 80-100% of your highest peak flow number, which is your green zone. Your provider outlines what to do when your peak flow number dips to the yellow zone or below 50% .
For example, your action plan may involve taking quick-relief medicine, such as a rescue inhaler, when you enter the yellow zone to see if your levels return to the green zone.
Rest assured that if you receive an asthma diagnosis, the condition is very treatable. With the right asthma management, you can lead a normal life.
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Who Is At Risk For Anaphylaxis
- People who have experienced anaphylaxis before
- People with allergies to foods, insect stings, medicine and other triggers
If you are at-risk:
- Keep your epinephrine auto-injectors on-hand at all times and be ready to use them if an emergency occurs.
- Talk with your doctor about your triggers and your symptoms. Your doctor may tell you to see an allergist. An allergist can help you identify your allergies and learn to manage your risk of severe reactions.
- Ask your doctor for an anaphylaxis action plan. This will help you know what to do if you experience anaphylaxis.
Medical Review October 2015, updated February 2017.
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What Might Cause Shortness Of Breath
Feeling winded. Shallow breathing. Difficulty breathing. These sensations can be alarming. People often fear that shortness of breath indicates lung or heart disease. Those are more serious concerns but they arent the only reason a person may be short of breath. Here we discuss a few other reasons it may be hard to breathe.
Control Symptoms With Medication
Avoiding allergens entirely isnt always possible or practical. Often, people find that they must also manage their allergy symptoms and work to avoid allergens.
Managing allergies may involve:
- Nasal sprays: These are the most effective treatment for nasal allergies. They reduce swelling and nasal allergy symptoms. These sprays may include steroids, antihistamines, anticholinergics, and mast cell stabilizers.
- Antihistamines: An antihistamine blocks the histamine receptor and reduces respiratory allergy symptoms.
- : These reduce congestion.
- Epinephrine: Known commonly as an EpiPen, this treats anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction.
- Immunotherapy: These allergy shots work like a vaccine by injecting an allergen at increasing doses to develop tolerance to that allergen. Allergy shots are a long-term treatment that may be an option for people who cannot avoid their triggers or if medications dont work.
- Bronchodilators: If you have allergic asthma, your healthcare provider might also prescribe an inhaler for you to use when you have an asthma attack. These devices work by widening your airway to help you breathe better. Short-acting inhalers are for use as needed when you have trouble breathing. Long-acting inhalers are for use daily to prevent breathing issues.
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Inflammation Of The Airways
When the body detects an allergen, it tries to reject it by producing antibodies and chemicals, such as histamine. Histamine causes the airways to become inflamed and constricted, and it also causes the body to produce mucus to help expel the allergen.
As a result, the airways become narrower. When a person breathes through narrowed airways, the air is forced through a smaller-than-usual space, and a whistling sound can result. This sound is wheezing.
Some causes of wheezing result in short-lived symptoms. Others can cause symptoms that are more serious or longer lasting.
Your Heart Needs Help
If your heart isn’t able to effectively pump blood around your body, you could feel short of breath just doing everyday activities, like climbing stairs. Shortness of breath is a symptom of mitral valve disease and cardiomyopathy, among other heart problems. Here are six other signs your heart needs a checkup.
Being short of breath is also a warning sign of a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association, and it can happen with or without chest pain. Other symptoms include nausea, lightheadedness, back or jaw pain and breaking out in a cold sweat.
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The Triggers Are In Your Environment
While many different substances can trigger allergic asthma, they all have one thing in common: Theyre in the environment, not in your food or your medication.
Pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, mold and pollen can all trigger allergic asthma, says Dr. Purcell.
If pollen or mold trigger the condition, it may occur only seasonally. If your pets or the dust mites on your bedding trigger it, you may suffer year-round, he notes.
How Allergies Can Impact Your Lungs
During the unpredictable health crisis that the world is currently facing, its more important than ever to stay healthy. According to the AAFA over 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. Allergic reactions can cause symptoms in your nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach, or on the skin. Allergies can also trigger asthma, making it more difficult to breathe. Pulmonary Associates of Richmond shares the connection between lung health and allergies, and what you can do to protect your lungs.
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How To Alleviate Allergies Causing Shortness Of Breath For Days
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, shortness of breath can be a sign of asthma, but certain conditions can trigger shortness of breath with allergies. If you have allergies , pollen and other allergens can cause shortness of breath and other respiratory challenges for days. Airfree air purifiercan help reduce allergens in your home so you can be safer against shortness of breath allergies cause.
What Are Common Asthma Triggers
Discovering and limiting asthma triggers is part of successfully managing your condition. There are many kinds of asthma triggers, and they vary from person to person. Dr. Ziegner helps you to identify your triggers. The most common are:
- Tobacco smoke
- Strong emotions
Some people with asthma may have just one or two triggers, while others can have several. For people with unavoidable triggers such as trees or grass, your provider goes through steps to prevent symptoms from allergic reactions. This plays a key role in managing your asthma.
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Be Aware Of Food Allergens
Researchers estimate that approximately 32 million Americans, including 5.6 million children under the age of 18, have food allergies resulting from an overreaction of the bodys immune system to certain foods.2 The trouble with food allergies is that they can worsen respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing and cough. Unfortunately, food allergies seem to be on the rise, and about 40% of children with food allergies are allergic to more than one food.2Food allergies can cause a variety of reactions, from mild itchiness inside the mouth to a life-threatening anaphylactic response. If you already have a breathing condition, or find that your allergic reactions typically involve respiratory problems, it is helpful to be aware of common allergens. You may want to get an allergy test as well. Foods that cause mucus because of an immune reaction and are most commonly associated with allergies include:
- Wheat and other foods containing glutens
- Fresh fruit
- Sodium metabisulfite
- Sodium sulfite
If you are aware of an existing food allergy, know that there are foods that cause shortness of breath for you or have experienced the link between dairy and respiratory problems, then you already know which foods to avoid. However, if your respiratory symptoms increase only after eating certain foods and you have never been told you have a food allergy, you may have developed one. Talk to your physician about allergy skin testing.
Know When To Seek Medical Attention
If youre using two to three puffs of inhaler medicine every 10 to 15 minutes and are still struggling to breathe, seek immediate medical attention. Despite all of the medicines we have available, 3,000 people die each year from asthma. Dont wait to get help, Dr. Raub says.
For additional information on asthma and its treatment, Dr. Raub recommends the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, acaai.org, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, aaaai.org.
This article was originally published in the spring 2017 issue of CenterPoint Magazine Mason under the title “A Breath of Fresh Air.”
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Do Any Allergies Cause Shortness Of Breath
2. Allergies can trigger asthma symptoms, especially duringphysical activity.
3. Asthma is actually an allergic reaction when your lungsinflame and swell making it hard to breath.
4. Allergens can make our airways red, swollen, and filled withsticky mucus. So Allergies cause shortness of breath.
5. If you’re unsure what are causes of shortness breath, consultwith an allergist for your better cure.
Take A Preventative Stance
If youre especially sensitive to springtime allergens, use air conditioning in the house and car to limit your exposure. If youve been outdoors, wash your hair and clothes when you get home to get rid of those allergens. Clear your nasal passages with a Neti pot or other nasal irrigation method. Indoors, try to clear your house of allergens that trigger you.
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Limit Meaty Starchy And Salty Foods
Contrary to popular belief, dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, do not increase mucus production3 and worsen your cough, though there is a connection between dairy and respiratory problems if you have an allergy or lactose intolerance. However, meaty, starchy and salty foods are included in the foods that cause shortness of breath.4 A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reports that certain people who consume a diet composed of mostly meat, refined starches and sodium have a 1.43 times higher risk of developing chronic respiratory symptoms and COPD.5
So, if you are trying to avoid foods that cause shortness of breath, which foods should you consider cutting out of your daily diet? Start with the following:
- Sweets and desserts such as pies, cakes, donuts and sweet rolls
- Red and processed meats such as hamburger, beef ribs, cold cuts and other luncheon meats
- French fries and other fried foods such as onion rings, fried chicken, fried zucchini and mozzarella sticks
- Refined grains such as white rice, cream of wheat, corn and flour tortillas, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, white bread, sandwich rolls or buns
- Certain fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Low fat or fat-free dairy products
Additionally, there are foods that may decrease the amount of mucus your body produces, so if you are not allergic to any of these foods, they could help you breathe a little easier. Here are foods that decrease mucus.
What To Do If You Have Shortness Of Breath
If you are exerting yourself when it happens, Dr. Quddus recommends slowing down and sitting down. Try to calm yourself with slow, deep breaths where you inhale through your nose and breathe out through your mouth.
If you’re out of breath for a few minutes to hours, you should still see your doctor. Even if you can chalk it up to cold temperatures or exposure to dust or fumes, this is not a normal reaction. “There are breathing tests we can do to see if you have undiagnosed asthma,” Dr. Quddus says.
Right now, in winter, it’s likely that your physical fitness has declined if you’re not getting out as much.
“Deconditioning is really common right now given the time of year and being in lockdown,” Dr. Quddus says.
However, you can’t just assume that’s the case. If there’s a change in your perceived fitness level from your baseline as in, yesterday you could walk up a few flights of stairs just fine and now you huff and puff after the first set see your doctor.
And remember, call 911 immediately if you think you’re having a heart attack.
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So What Kind Of Doctor Do You See For Shortness Of Breath
Its really important and possibly even vital to seek emergency care at the ER if you experience shortness of breath that comes on suddenly and severely and that affects your ability to function healthily. Or if your shortness of breath is accompanied by chest pain, fainting, nausea, a change in mental alertness, or a slight blue color to the lips or the nails, then its also important to seek emergency care. These signs and symptoms could be those of a heart attack or another serious medical issue.
Often, though, shortness of breath is mild only. If youre sure your shortness of breath is mild, then you can see your primary care physician about it, or better yet, see an allergist/immunologist! Symptoms like swelling in the feet and ankles, fever, cough, chills, wheezing, and really, any kind of mild shortness of breath should be addressed by a professional. An allergist/immunologist is very able to help with these symptoms and with mild, common cases of shortness of breath.