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Diagnostic Tests for Shortness of breath

Diagnostic Test list for Shortness of breath:

The list of diagnostic tests mentioned in various sources as used in the diagnosis of Shortness of breath includes:

  • Physical examination
    • Blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature
    • Inspect for blueness of tongue and skin, reduced alertness and distress due to breathing problems
    • Lung examination to listen to breath sound quality, intensity and for added sounds. Crackles suggest congestive heart failure, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, lung fibrosis or bronchiectasis. Wheezes suggest asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema
    • Abdominal examination for enlarged liver which may be a sign of congestive heart failure
  • Blood tests
    • Full blood count to exclude anemia as cause of breathing difficulties and also to detect signs of infection, inflammation and asthma ( increased eosinophil cells)
    • Renal function tests and electrolytes
    • Serial cardiac enzymes and troponin to detect cardiac damage from heart attack
  • Arterial blood gases - to look for signs of pulmonary embolism, pneumothorax, pneumonia and other lung diseases.
  • Sputum microscopy and culture - to detect bacterial and fungal causes of pneumonia and exacerbations of bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis.
  • Sputum acid-fast stains- for tuberculosis, if indicated and routine sputum stains are negative
  • Mantoux skin testing - if suspicious for tuberculosis active infection.
  • Electrocardiograph (ECG) - to look for signs of heart attack and some causes of congestive cardiac failure.
  • Pulmonary function tests - can be useful in diagnosing asthma and distinguishing pulmonary fibrosis from emphysema.
  • Exercise testing - can be helpful in distinguishing between lung and heart disease and also assessing fitness.
  • Radiological investigations
    • Chest X-Ray - to look for signs of lung disease and also enlarged heart of congestive cardiac failure.
    • Ventilation - perfusion scan to exclude pulmonary embolism.
    • Pulmonary angiography if ventilation- perfusion scan is inconclusive in ruling out pulmonary embolism
    • Echocardiogram can help diagnose congestive cardiac failure
  • Bronchoscopy - may be needed to exclude foreign body, lung cancer, bronchiectasis and sarcoidosis.
  • Cardiac catheterization and pulmonary angiography - may be needed to identify acute pulmonary embolism, chronic recurrent pulmonary embolism, intra-cardiac shunts and pulmonary hypertension.

Home Diagnostic Testing

These home medical tests may be relevant to Shortness of breath causes:

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Shortness of breath:

The following list of conditions have 'Shortness of breath' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Shortness of breath or choose View All.

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Conditions listing medical complications: Shortness of breath:

The following list of medical conditions have 'Shortness of breath' or similar listed as a medical complication in our database.


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