Treatment for Dyspnea or Shortness of Breath

Treatment options for shortness of breath
really depend on the underlying condition. Certainly treating the underlying causes best
we can, whether that's inhaled medicines for conditions like COPD or asthma, whether it's
diuretics, water pills as they're known, for conditions like pulmonary hypertension or
congestive heart failure. Sometimes corticosteroids are used for a variety
of conditions. Oxygen, for some people, is helpful from a
symptomatic standpoint. It's not always. But there are what we call cognitive behavioral
therapies that can help people to take control of their own shortness of breath. As conditions progress, sometimes we use very
low doses of medications called opioids, which are traditionally used for pain.

But again, at very, very low doses can be
helpful for shortness of breath. So there are some conditions where shortness
of breath will improve over time. Sometimes people have a blood clot in the
lungs and over time the body can absorb that and the shortness of breath should improve. Sometimes people for a variety of reasons
have fluid that builds up around the lungs, whether that's from heart failure or infection
or cancer. Sometimes by treating the underlying infection,
or cancer or heart failure we can help the body to get rid of the fluid on its on its
own. And sometimes it requires drainage either
once or several times. Sometimes people even have what we call indwelling
catheters placed, a small tube that helps us to drain the fluid whenever we need to
to help that person feel better..

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