Are you experiencing shortness of breath and headache? Remember that if your shortness of breath is severe, you should call 911 immediately, as it could be a medical emergency. However, if you’re not having significant trouble breathing but still feel out of breath, there could be several factors involved.
This article will talk about how shortness of breath and headache are related, how they differ, and what could be causing you to feel this way. Then, we’ll let you know how to get the appropriate treatment.
How Shortness of Breath and Headache Are Related
As the body’s cells generate carbon dioxide as a waste product, the lungs breathe it out and allow fresh oxygen to enter the blood. Thus, normal, healthy breathing maintains an even pace of exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen between the blood and the air you breathe. However, if the amount of oxygen in the blood decreases below an adequate level, a condition known as hypoxia can result. Chronic shortness of breath may result in oxygen levels decreasing to dangerous levels.
In addition, one of the symptoms of hypoxia is the presence of severe headaches. Although both symptoms may be occurring simultaneously, they have many different independent causes. That’s why it’s important to understand why you’re experiencing shortness of breath and headache in the first place.
Shortness of Breath and Headache: Causes Explained
There is a vast number of causes of shortness of breath and headache, some of which are:
- Anemia. There aren’t enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues in this condition. Common symptoms are fatigue, breathlessness, and headache.
- Asthma. Airways narrow in this chronic disease, making it difficult for you to breathe normally.
- Bronchitis. Inflammation occurs in the bronchial lining, in the vessels that carry air to and from your lungs. This can also make it hard to breathe.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). A group of diseases that can make it extremely difficult to breathe normally, even at rest. Patients suffering from COPD who also have sleep apnea can be deprived of oxygen while they sleep, which can cause headaches, among a series of other symptoms.
- Coronary artery disease. It happens due to buildup or inflammation in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. As a result, coronary artery disease can cause very serious effects on the rest of the body.
- Emphysema. It is characterized by damage to the tiny air sacs in the lungs that facilitate oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange within the lungs. This decreases lung capacity and makes it very hard to breathe unassisted. Also, smoking is the most common cause of emphysema.
- Inner Ear Inflammation. Also known as labyrinthitis, inner ear inflammation can cause vertigo and a loss of sense of balance, which can sometimes cause a headache and other symptoms.
- Panic attacks can often cause a sense of breathlessness, which a headache may accompany.
Because of the diverse potential causes for shortness of breath and headache, as well as the possibility of serious cardiovascular conditions, your best bet is to visit a qualified doctor.
Conclusion: Why It’s Important to Visit A Doctor
Many conditions that feature shortness of breath and headache affect the cardiovascular system. That’s why it’s a good idea to visit a professional cardiologist. Their specialization in cardiovascular diseases allows them to diagnose and treat your symptoms effectively.
At the Northwest Cardiovascular Clinic in Houston, TX, we listen to all of our patients and keep you confident and comfortable through our high-quality care practices. We’re equipped to perform a comprehensive suite of tests to diagnose any potential heart problems. These include electrocardiography, heart rhythm monitoring, and blood tests. If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach us at (281) 807-5253.