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Breathlessness is a symptom that can be caused by many different problems. These may be caused by the lungs, muscle, heart and blood disorders amongst others.


The underlying cause of breathlessness can be difficult to elicit but with expert consultation and appropriate investigation, a diagnosis can be made to allow appropriate management of the problem.


Most respiratory problems can cause breathlessness. These include disorders affecting the airways, the lung tissue itself (parenchyma), the blood supply to the lungs, the chest wall and muscles causing the lungs to expand. Each of these has multiple diseases that can affect them causing the symptom of breathlessness. 


Investigations such as spirometry, lung function testing, bronchoscopy and special imaging tests can help pinpoint the cause of breathlessness. 


Further information can be found on the NHS choices website.

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