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COVID-19 Symptoms Explained: Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath is a common symptom of COVID-19, and an individual experiencing it may feel as if they can’t breathe deeply or catch their breath. It can be mild or severe, with some COVID-19 patients able to recover at home while others may need oxygen therapy or medical ventilation in a hospital setting.

What Causes Shortness of Breath in COVID-19 Patients?

In a healthy individual, taking a deep breath allows the lungs to take in oxygen. Tiny air sacs called alveoli will then capture this oxygen so it can be delivered to nearby blood vessels, enter the bloodstream, and reach other areas of the body.

In a person with COVID-19, this oxygen transfer process is disrupted. That’s because, as the virus spreads throughout the body, it triggers white blood cells to release cytokines, inflammatory proteins that fight the virus. This battle between the virus and the immune system affects the regular transfer of gas (like oxygen) and leaves behind excess fluid and dead cell debris that build up in the lungs and make it harder to breathe.

What to Do If You’re Experiencing Shortness of Breath

If you’re finding it hard to catch your breath and are worried that you’ve contracted COVID-19, the first thing you’ll want to do is get tested. PhysicianOne Urgent Care has facilities in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut that offer prompt COVID-19 testing services. We offer both the rapid antigen test and PCR test. We can also conduct lung function tests, such as spirometry, which measures how much air you can blow out of your lungs and how fast you can blow it, and pulse oximetry, which measures the amount of oxygen in your blood.

You can walk right in to any PhysicianOne Urgent Care location for prompt COVID-19 testing and care. Or schedule a Virtual Visit beforehand to have your COVID-19 symptoms evaluated before coming into one of our urgent care centers for testing. Your test will be prioritized when you arrive.

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