Diagnosing the cause of dyspnea depends on the clinical evaluation and the results of investigative tests that will be conducted. Due to the various reasons for shortness of breath, some of the tests will not be directly related to the lungs. Not all the tests mentioned below will be conducted and the attending physician will request those tests that are needed to confirm the differential diagnosis based on the clinical evaluation.
In severe cases of labored breathing, there may be one or more signs of respiratory distress :
- flaring of the nostrils
- pursing of the lips.
- use of the accessory respiratory muscles.
- abnormal breathing sounds.
- redness of the face which progresses to a pale or blue discoloration of the face.
This should be treated as a medical emergency. Immediate testing and a quick diagnosis is necessary to treat the cause once the patient is stabilized.