Knowing When You Need to Go to the ER for Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath always has the propensity to be a medical emergency. As this West Hills Hospital & Medical Center provider explains in this video , because there are so many different potential causes of shortness of breath, getting care quickly is important. If you are experiencing shortness of breath and wondering what to do, here are some signs that you should consider emergency care.

Your shortness of breath is severe.

If you have severe shortness of breath, don’t delay seeking emergency care. Severe shortness of breath could indicate a serious health problem that requires urgent treatment. Don’t attempt to drive if you have severe shortness of breath. If no one is available to take you to the hospital, dial 911 for help.

You have chest pain.

Shortness of breath that is accompanied by chest pain could indicate a heart attack. During a heart attack, blood doesn’t flow from the lungs into the heart effectively, so oxygenated blood backs up. This causes congestion to occur in the lungs, making it harder to breathe. Chest pain and shortness of breath that happen together do not always indicate a heart attack—for instance, these symptoms can also happen during an anxiety attack—but getting an accurate diagnosis is crucial.

You have nausea.

Nausea combined with shortness of breath can also suggest a medical emergency. When these symptoms appear together, a heart attack or pulmonary embolism are possible. Getting a fast diagnosis and treatment could be life-saving. As with chest pain, nausea and shortness of breath can also be a sign of a less serious condition.

If you have symptoms that concern you, always err on the side of caution and seek emergency care in West Hills at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center. Visit our website to see our current ER wait times, or dial (818) 676-4321 for additional information about our hospital services.

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