Dyspnoea is an abnormal and uncomfortable awareness of breathing.

Effort of breathing is out of proportion with exertion needs.

Patients often have difficulties in describing the discomfort of dyspnoea

Clinical features

Will depend on the underlying cause(s) of dyspnoea

Differential diagnoses


  • Obstructive airways disease: asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema
  • Parenchymal lung disease: pneumonia, pneumoconiosis, pulmonary fibrosis
  • Pulmonary vascular obstruction:
    pulmonary emboli
  • Chest wall disorders: respiratory muscle paralysis, kyphoscoliosis


  • Congestive cardiac failure
  • Left ventricular failure Metabolic
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis


  • Anxiety neurosis

Treatment objectives

  • Treat cause(s) of dyspnoea
  • Restore normal respiration

Non-drug treatment

  • Oxygen in appropriate concentration
  • Other treatment will depend on
    the underlying/ precipitating cause

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