Trouble Breathing (Dyspnea)

Rush experts can find and treat the cause of your dyspnea (shortness of breath): asthma, COPD, heart attack, pneumonia, COVID-19 or other issues.

Rush experts can find and treat the cause of your dyspnea (shortness of breath): asthma, COPD, heart attack, pneumonia, COVID-19 or other issues.

Dyspnea is another term for trouble breathing or shortness of breath. It might cause you to feel one or more of the following:

  • Breathlessness
  • Discomfort while breathing
  • Not being able to get enough air
  • A feeling of suffocation
  • Wheezing

Dyspnea is a fairly common symptom that has many possible causes, including weight gain, heart attack, pneumonia, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or COVID-19.

When to Get Help for Dyspnea

Anyone can experience mild dyspnea once in a while. But if you experience it suddenly and severely, or it significantly limits your activities, you need to see a physician.

Call 911 or go to the emergency room right away in these instances:

  • Your trouble breathing comes on suddenly
  • Your shortness of breath is accompanied by chest discomfort, pain or pressure
  • Something — e.g., an object that you have inhaled — seriously interferes with your ability to breathe
  • Someone you are with completely stops breathing

Contact your doctor in these instances:

  • Your trouble breathing happens while you're resting, wakes you up or bothers you after you do mild activities
  • You also have a fever
  • You also have tightness in your throat, wheezing or a barking cough

Your doctor will examine you and might also order tests such as X-rays, blood tests and pulmonary function tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Treatment for Dyspnea at Rush

Because dyspnea has so many potential causes, your treatment plan will depend on what's causing it. Pulmonologists at Rush have decades of expertise in pinpointing the causes of breathing problems.

And no matter what the cause, the Rush team has advanced treatments to help. If you have asthma, the Rush Sinus, Allergy and Asthma Center is the first of its kind in the Chicago area and one of only a handful in the country; it offers state-of-the-art medical and surgical solutions. If your physicians determine that pulmonary or cardiac rehabilitation would help, our highly trained therapists will work with you to get you breathing easily again.

Dyspnea Providers at Rush

Learn more about dyspnea providers at Rush.

Meet our dyspnea providers
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Rush Excellence in Dyspnea Care

  • An expert team, centered on you: If your dyspnea turns out to be related to a chronic health problem like heart failure or allergies, your pulmonologist will refer you to Rush specialists who can help treat the underlying condition. If losing weight would help, they'll coordinate your care with Rush's weight loss services team.
  • National leaders in lung care: U.S. News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center among the best in the nation for pulmonology and lung surgery.
  • Leading-edge testing: Rush offers state-of-the-art pulmonary function testing, including a full cardiopulmonary exercise lab that helps zero in on the causes of dyspnea associated with physical activity.
  • The right treatment for you: Your care team brings the power of the whole Rush academic health system to treat your dyspnea. For example, Rush allergy specialists are also researchers, so they can often offer treatments that aren't widely available.
  • Convenient care: Rush pulmonary specialists are located in Chicago, Oak Park and Aurora/Fox Valley. Even if you have tests or procedures at Rush University Medical Center, you can schedule follow-up appointments or pulmonary rehabilitation at the location that's most convenient for you.

Dyspnea Locations

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Aurora/Fox Valley

Rush Copley Heart Institute

RUSH Copley Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, a Department of RUSH Copley Medical Center Aurora Ogden

2088 Ogden Ave
Suite 250
Aurora, IL 60504

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Office Hours:

Mon – Thu: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Fri: 8:00 am – 3:00 am
Sat – Sun: Closed
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Oak Park

RUSH Lung Center - Oak Park

610 S Maple Ave
RUSH Medical Office Building - Suite 5500
Oak Park, IL 60304

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