Breathing is an essential activity for daily living, and any small restriction in your breath can greatly affect your quality of life. If you frequently feel short of breath, you may be experiencing an airway disorder. There are many medical conditions that can cause shortness of breath. Some of the more common ones include pulmonary diseases (asthma, COPD, etc.), cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, and bronchitis--but there are many others that have similar symptoms. It is important to see a physician to determine the cause of your shortness of breath.
What are the symptoms of a breathing disorder?
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of throat tightness
- Frequent coughing
- Noisy breathing called "stridor" which sounds like whistling
- Strenuous breathing which is often more effortful during inhalation
How is a breathing disorder diagnosed?
Flexible laryngoscopy: This test is used to view the structures of the larynx (throat). A small flexible camera is passed through the nasal passage, through the nasopharynx (the connection between the nose and throat), and down into the throat. A topical anesthetic (numbing medication) is used for maximum comfort during the examination. The examination takes around 1 - 2 minutes and is not painful.
Bronchoscopy: A bronchoscopy allows the physician to view the entire trachea (windpipe) down to the carina (the ridge separating the openings of the right and left main bronchi leading to the lungs). Bronchoscopies are performed using a flexible endoscope (similar to the one described in “flexible laryngoscopy” above) that is slightly longer. At the Institute, bronchoscopies are typically performed comfortably in the office while a patient is awake, unless a patient objects. A patient is numbed with topical anesthetic so he/she does not feel the scope entering the airway and there is no gagging or choking. The procedure takes approximately 5 minutes.