Shortness of breath—what doctors call dyspnea—is the unpleasant sensation of having difficulty breathing. People experience and describe shortness of breath differently depending on the cause.
The rate and depth of breathing normally increase during exercise and at high altitudes, but the increase seldom causes discomfort. Breathing rate is also increased at rest in people with many disorders, whether of the lungs or other parts of the body. For example, people with a fever generally breathe faster.
With dyspnea, faster breathing is accompanied by the sensation of running out of air. People feel as if they cannot breathe fast enough or deeply enough. They may notice that more effort is needed to expand the chest when breathing in or to expel air when breathing out. They may also have the uncomfortable sensation that inhaling (inspiration) is urgently needed before exhaling (expiration) is completed and have various sensations often described as tightness in the chest.
Other symptoms, such as cough or chest pain, may be present depending on the cause of dyspnea.
Putting in the stent
Your doctor puts a long, thin, flexible tube called a bronchoscope into your mouth and down your airway. This is a bit uncomfortable.
Diagram showing a bronchoscopy
When the bronchoscope tube is in the right place, the doctor pushes the stent down the bronchoscope. It is a folded up wire mesh tube. As the stent comes out of the end of the tube, it opens up and pushes the walls of the airway open.
The possible risks include:
A chest infection – see your GP straight away if your phlegm (sputum) changes colour, you start feeling more breathless or you feel as though you have a temperature.
Needing extra oxygen – you might need oxygen through a mask for some time after the bronchoscopy. If you normally have oxygen at home you might need to have more than usual for a while.
A collapsed lung (pneumothorax) – air or gas can collect in the space around the lung and make it collapse but this is rare. Contact a doctor if you get breathless or have chest pain. You have a tube put into the lung to remove the air.
The stent moving and blocking the airway but this is very rare – contact your doctor or nurse straight away if you suddenly feel very breathless.