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Difficulty Breathing With No Other Symptoms? What Does It Mean?

Difficulty Breathing With No Other Symptoms? What Does It Mean?

We’ve all experienced being out of breath after exercising or doing other tiring activities. Most times, we can overcome it by resting for a while. But what if you suddenly feel out of breath, with no other accompanying symptoms? What could be the possible causes of difficulty breathing with no other symptoms? Find out here.

Causes of Breathing Difficulties

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing with no other symptoms can be a frightening experience. If you have ever experienced or are still experiencing this occurrence, it is most likely associated with heart or lung conditions.

Here are some possible conditions related to the heart and lungs that cause difficulty in breathing:


This is the swelling of the airways and the building up of mucus in that area. The severity of asthma attacks vary from person to person. In some cases, they are manageable, but in others, they may be life-threatening.

Heart Arrhythmia

This is a heart condition when your heart beats too fast or too slow. The possible causes of a heartbeat that is too fast are atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, supraventricular tachycardia, or Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Meanwhile, a heartbeat that is too slow may be due to sick sinus syndrome and conduction block. Moreover, smoking, drinking, drug abuse, high blood pressure, and infection with COVID-19 could also be underlying factors.


While this is a rare condition, it is potentially dangerous for your health. This may cause difficulty breathing with no other symptoms. Pneumothorax happens when your lung suffers pressure from the air that flows outside your lungs. It is also referred to as collapsed lungs.

Pulmonary Embolism

This happens when a blood clot forms, usually in the blood vessels in the leg, and travels towards the lung, where it blocks the blood flow. In some cases, a person might show signs of difficulty breathing with no other symptoms. The lack of blood flow may also lead to lower blood oxygen levels which may result in damage to other organs.

Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome

People who are obese may develop this condition. This is a breathing disorder caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood, and too much carbon dioxide. The neck or chest fat is the primary cause for making you feel out of breath.

Other Conditions Which Cause Difficulty in Breathing

On the other hand, you may experience difficulty in breathing alongside other symptoms. In this case, the cause may be among the following conditions:


This is a lung infection that results in the lungs being filled up with fluid or pus. This causes trouble in breathing. Together with coughing with or without phlegm or mucus. Other symptoms include headache, fever, and low blood oxygen levels.

Heart Attack

This condition happens when your blood flow gets blocked by fat, cholesterol, and other substances that have built up in your arteries. In some cases, this may cause blood clots that may lead to heart muscle damage. In the case of a heart attack, the patient may experience shortness of breath, fatigue, and nausea.

Heart Failure

This happens when your heart does not fill up with enough blood, or is too weak to pump blood. Symptoms vary depending on the condition of the person’s heart. Patients may experience any of these: shortness of breath, weakness, cough, nausea, abdominal pain, urinary incontinence, and weight gain.


This is a highly contagious disease that has caused a global pandemic. Shortness of breath is one of the common symptoms of COVID-19. Patients may also experience barking cough, body ache, sore throat, and nausea or vomiting.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

This is a lung disease that blocks the airflow, causing difficulty in breathing. COPD is commonly associated with bronchitis and emphysema, referring to damage in the lung tissues. This condition constantly produces mucus, accompanied by coughing. Shortness of breath is one of the signs that your condition is getting worse.


Allergies are triggered through interactions with foreign substances that your body recognizes as harmful. Your body will produce antibodies to eliminate it, but this also causes other symptoms. Reactions to allergies vary from person to person. If severe, symptoms include unconsciousness, too much difficulty breathing, rapid but weak pulse, nausea, and dropping blood pressure levels.


A low count of red blood cells prevents oxygen from going throughout your body. Therefore, your body may feel tired and you may feel out of breath all the time. Anemia may eventually lead to arrhythmia or heart failure if left untreated.

When Should I See a Doctor?

If you experience difficulty breathing with no other symptoms, you should consult with a doctor as soon as possible. The shortness of breath may be due to potentially dangerous health concerns. Health conditions regarding the lungs and heart must be monitored closely as they are responsible for the air we breathe and bringing oxygen throughout the body.

All of the above mentioned conditions that cause shortness of breath may be potentially life-threatening if left untreated. A single problem may also cause you to develop other complications.

Key Takeaway

Difficulty in breathing, especially if there are no other symptoms, is a severe symptom and may be life-threatening. Underlying causes include lung or heart problems. Seeing a doctor reduces the risk of developing other complications.

Learn about Other Respiratory Issues here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Heart arrhythmia, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-arrhythmia/symptoms-causes/syc-20350668, Accessed July 28, 2021

Asthma, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/symptoms-causes/syc-20369653, Accessed July 28, 2021

Shortness of breath, https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/shortness-of-breath/basics/causes/sym-20050890, Accessed July 28, 2021

Pulmonary Embolism, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/pulmonary-embolism, Accessed July 28, 2021

Collapsed Lung (Pneumothorax), https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15304-collapsed-lung-pneumothorax, Accessed July 28, 2021

Pneumonia, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/pneumonia, Accessed July 28, 2021

Heart Failure, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-failure, Accessed July 28, 2021

Heart attack, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-attack/symptoms-causes/syc-20373106, Accessed July 28, 2021

COVID-19 Symptoms, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html, Accessed July 28, 2021

Difficulty Breathing After COVID-19, http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/FamilyMedicine/PostCOVIDclinic/PostCOVIDBreathlessness.pdf, Accessed July 28, 2021

COPD and Difficulty Breathing, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-related-breathing-disorders/copd-and-difficulty-breathing, Accessed July 28, 2021

Anemia, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/3929-anemia, Accessed July 28, 2021

Allergies, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/symptoms-causes/syc-20351497, Accessed July 28, 2021

Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/obesity-hypoventilation-syndrome, Accessed July 28, 2021

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Written by Shienna Santelices Updated Apr 20
Medically reviewed by Michael Henry Wanat