When to Use the ER? Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath

When to Use the ER? Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath

If you have allergies or suffer from asthma, then you are well aware of issues such as shortness of breath. However, experiencing breathing issues is not limited to people with allergies or that suffer from asthma attacks. Shortness of breath can happen to anyone. Thus, it is important to understand when breathing issues warrant a visit to the ER. That way, your breathing issues do not end up being a matter of life and death.

The first step in understanding breathing issues is to understand what causes them. Thus, you need to identify the symptoms of breathing difficulty and understand what medication will work for your particular situation. Here is a bit more on breathing issues:

The Cause of Breathing Problems


There are various causes of breathing difficulty, but the main causes are allergies and asthma. People who have allergies often experience problems drawing breath when they encounter agents that can trigger allergies. These triggers include things such as dust, pollen grains, chemical fumes, and even some scents.


People who have asthma often experience breathing issues. In fact, asthma attacks are one of the leading causes of visits to ERs such as Bellaire ER. The data shows that over 15% of all visits to the ER as results of asthma attacks. However, with timely care, these attacks usually take just minutes to treat, and the patient can go back home.

Asthma is thought to be hereditary and is passed down from one generation to the next. People who are prone to asthma also usually have a weakened immunity and are prone to attacks from viral infections. Some of the common causes of asthma attacks are cigarette smoke, pollen, dust mites, cold air, some types of food, and even the levels of air pollution. In some people, the attacks are caused by even low levels of these triggers while in others it requires higher levels.


This is the other common cause of breathing issues. Sinusitis refers to the inflammation of the inner linings of the sinuses. This usually arises when the sinuses become covered in fluids. Germs will tend to accumulate on this surface, and this is what causes the inflammation of the sinuses. Now that you understand the common causes of difficulty in breathing, what are signs and symptoms to watch out for and when should you go to the ER. Here are a few tips.

Nasal Congestion

A common symptom of the flue is nasal congestion. This can make it almost impossible for you to breathe in and out of the nose properly. Nasal congestion can usually be cleared by blowing the nose or taking over the counter medication. There is usually no need to visit the ER unless it is a small child who is showing serious distress due to nasal congestion.

Chest congestion

During chest congestion, the chest feels quite heavy, and it requires quite a lot of effort just to breathe. This is not usually a sign that you need to visit the ER unless there is a significant amount of accompanying pain.

Watery and itchy eyes

This is an important symptom, especially in people with asthma. If you notice your eyes welling up for no reason, you should ensure that you have your inhaler with you.

A Runny Nose

A runny nose is usually a sign of a simple common cold. However, it could be a sign of major respiratory problems. It could also be a sign that you are inhaling too much cold air, which irritates the linings of your respiratory system. Always try to cover yourself up with a scarf or stay indoors during extremely cold weather.


This is when you make a high-pitched noise as you breathe in. It is usually a clear indication that there is a problem with your respiratory system. In some cases, it could be a sign of the onset of an asthma attack or it could show that you have the obstructive pulmonary disease.

Endless coughing

If you have a persistent cough, it is usually a sign that you have breathing issues. The act of coughing is meant to help you get rid of any foreign bodies in the respiratory tract so that you can clear the airways.

When to visit the ER

If you experience breathing problems that last more than 3 days, it is important you report to an ER near you. Although some breathing problems are because of the flu or common cold, some problems result from serious infections and if not treated, can prove fatal or lead to serious lifelong complications.

How does the ER handle breathing issues?

One of the first things that an ER will do is administer medication to clear the airways. If the situation gets worse, you may be hooked to a machine to assist you in breathing.However, in most cases, just a few shots of the right medication are usually enough to cure a person.