Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


Out of breath; relating to or suffering from dyspnea.


Out of breath; relating to or suffering from dyspnea.


(dis(p)-ne'a) [ dys- + -pnea]
Shortage of air resulting in labored or difficult breathing, sometimes accompanied by pain. It is normal when it is due to vigorous work or athletic activity and should quickly return to normal when the activity ceases. Synonym: air hunger; breathlessnessdyspneic (-ne-ik), adjective


The patient reports that the work of breathing is excessive. Signs of dyspnea include audibly labored breathing, hyperpnea and/or tachypnea, retraction of intercostal spaces, a distressed facial expression, dilated nostrils, paradoxical movements of the chest and abdomen, gasping, and occasionally cyanosis.

Patient care

The patient is assessed for airway patency, and a complete respiratory assessment is performed to identify additional signs and symptoms of respiratory distress and alleviating and aggravating factors. Arterial blood gas values are obtained if indicated, and oxygen saturation is monitored. The patient is placed in a high Fowler, orthopneic, or other comfortable position. Oxygen and medications are administered as prescribed, and the patient's response is evaluated and documented. The nurse or respiratory therapist remains with the patient until breathing becomes less labored and anxiety has decreased. Blood work, pulmonary function studies, chest x-ray, ECG, CT-pulmonary angiography, or other studies may be used as part of the diagnostic workup, depending on findings of the history and physical examination.

cardiac dyspnea

Dyspnea due to inadequate cardiac output, i.e., from heart failure.

expiratory dyspnea

Dyspnea associated with obstructive lung diseases such as asthma or chronic bronchitis. Wheezing is often present.

inspiratory dyspnea

Dyspnea due to interference with the passage of air to the lungs. See: stridor

paroxysmal-nocturnal dyspnea

Abbreviation: PND
Sudden attacks of dyspnea that usually occur when patients are asleep in bed. The affected patient awakens gasping for air and tries to sit up (often near a window) to relieve the symptom. PND is one of the classic symptoms of left ventricular failure, although it may also occasionally be caused by sleep apnea or by nocturnal cardiac ischemia.
References in periodicals archive ?
3) Studies show that assays used to quantitatively measure this peptide are quite accurate in differentiating CHF from other dyspneic patients.
2002a), including exposure history and positive ascorbic acid response to dyspneic respiratory distress.
In the 48 hours before admission at Mayo, she was profoundly dyspneic, arriving in extremis with orthopnea.
He became dyspneic, developed subcutaneous emphysema, went into shock and died 18 hours later.
He noted that the majority, recognized it to be fact that the patient's oxygen saturation level "had dropped to a critical level," and that she was cyanotic and dyspneic on that morning before the nurses attending the patient extubated her.
Their oral reports were punctuated with medical terminology delivered quickly and concisely: "We have a 45-year-old male, found unconscious and dyspneic.
In the PRIDE study, increased sST2 concentrations strongly predicted death at 1 year in dyspneic patients in general [hazard ratio (HR) 5.
Furthermore, dyspneic patients often lie in nonoptimal positions, which limits the examination of certain lung areas.
In the physical examination the dog was apathetic in an orthopneic position, severely dyspneic and cyanotic.
In April 2009, a 2-year-old, spayed female ferret at the ferret rescue and shelter, which had originated from the breeding facility in Canada and passed through the US distribution center, became acutely dyspneic and died within 15 minutes.
There should be a high index of suspicion of cardiac tamponade in this group of patients, particularly if they have normal ventricular function in association with a circumferential or localized pericardial effusion; and they are hypotensive, oliguriuc, edematous, dyspneic, and/or on inotropic support.