Tachypnea can be caused by a number of conditions. Chronic conditions like asthma, lung disease, anxiety, or obesity can lead to tachypnea. It may also be caused by acute conditions like pulmonary embolism (blood clots in lungs), choking, heart failure, shock, or heatstroke. Lung infections can also cause tachypnea. Some common ones you'll probably recognize are bronchiolitis or pneumonia.
Obviously, the most pronounced symptom is breathing that is fast and shallow. When the lungs have too much carbon dioxide, it creates a feeling like you can't get enough air. Other symptoms may include a bluish-gray tint of the skin, nails, lips, or gums, lightheadedness, chest pain, fever, a chest that caves in with each breath, or breathing that gets worse over time.
Tachypnea can cause the skin to appear bluish in color.
Treating tachypnea requires identifying and treating the underlying cause. For example, if asthma or a lung infection is to blame, an inhaler may be used to open the airways. If a panic attack due to anxiety is the culprit, medication might be used.
In other cases, medications like beta-blockers might be used. These work by counteracting adrenaline, which is released in the Fight or Flight response the body has to stress or fear. Maintaining ample oxygen in the body is critical, so oxygen might be administered from a tank or machine until symptoms subside and the body returns to normal. Chronic diseases affecting the lungs have various treatment options as well that can help lessen symptoms.
Let's review. Tachypnea is a breathing condition where the breathing is fast and shallow due to an accumulation of carbon dioxide in the body. This can be caused by a number of conditions or diseases, ranging from chronic conditions, like asthma, to acute infections, like pneumonia.
In addition to irregular breathing, symptoms can include a bluish tint to the skin, nails, lips, or gums, as well as chest pains, fever, or lightheadedness. Treating tachypnea requires treating the underlying condition, and this may be done with medications, inhalers, oxygen, or whatever treatment is appropriate.