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What could it be?
We all get short of breath sometimes, but if you get out of breath doing everyday things you used to be able to do it could be a sign of lung disease, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or heart disease.
It could also be a sign of other health problems such as anaemia or anxiety. But don't try and diagnose yourself, go and see your doctor to find out for sure.
The good news is that the conditions that cause shortness of breath can often be treated. So it's important to see your doctor if your breathing is difficult or uncomfortable, or if it feels like you can't get enough air.
Could it be cancer?
Breathlessness could also be a sign of lung cancer, which is why it's so important to see your doctor. Early detection makes it easier to treat. Seeing your doctor could save your life.
Other symptoms of heart disease or lung disease
If you get out of breath doing everyday activities such as light housework, walking short distances on relatively flat ground (for example to your local shop), gardening or climbing a short flight of stairs, you should see your GP as soon as possible.
You should also see your doctor if you have any of the symptoms below, as they can also be signs of lung or heart disease.
- a cough that has got worse or changes
- frequent chest infections
- coughing up blood
- chest or shoulder pain
- feeling more tired than usual for some time
- losing weight for no obvious reason
It's important to see your doctor if you have these symptoms, and not put them down to "a smoker's cough" or getting older. These diseases can be treated more effectively the earlier they are diagnosed.
If you know anyone who has any of these symptoms, encourage them to see their doctor.
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