Breathing problems can quickly turn into a scary situation. However, your ear, nose and throat specialist can help you get to the bottom of your breathing problems to help you find relief and avoid further complications. Diagnosis and treatment of these issues depend on pinpointing the underlying cause of the problems and developing an effective treatment plan.
Do I have a breathing problem?
Breathing issues can stem from various sources which often cause similar symptoms. You may have a breathing problem if you experience one or more of the following:
- labored breathing
- shortness of breath
- discomfort while breathing
- flaring nostrils
- gray/pale complexion
If you think you have a breathing difficulty, you should see your ear, nose and throat doctor as soon as possible for a diagnosis. If your breathing difficulty shows up alongside a fever, severe coughing, difficulty laying down or waking up at night unable to breathe, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Common Causes of Breathing Problems
Your breathing problems may originate from one or more of the following conditions:
- Allergies: Allergies occur due to your body’s misinterpretation of outside elements like pet dander, pollen, mold or grass as an attack. Symptoms include sneezing, wheezing, coughing and itchy, watery eyes.
- Deviated septum: A deviated septum can be present from birth or present itself due to an injury. A deviated septum occurs when the wall of tissue between your nostrils becomes severely off-center and causes issues like blockages or congestion.
- Lung disease: Asthma is a common cause of breathing issues and attacks often occur due to a trigger like an allergic reaction to dust, mold or pollen. Other lung diseases like pulmonary edema, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, plural effusion or tuberculosis can also trigger breathing problems.
- Sinusitis: Sinusitis occurs when the lining of the nasal passages becomes inflamed. While sinusitis usually occurs due to a viral infection which shows improvement in a week or two, it can also become chronic, lasting over 12 weeks. Chronic sinusitis often requires sinus surgery to clear the blockage and allow the sinuses to drain.
How can my ear, nose and throat doctor help?
Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor will use different treatments. You will have a physical examination with your ear, nose, and throat doctor. This time allows your doctor to spot abnormalities with your body, take images using x-rays or MRIs, and begin any necessary testing. Your doctor will work with you to determine the cause of your breathing problems and find the best course of treatment for you.