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Is My Shortness of Breath Anxiety or Coronavirus?

Is My Shortness of Breath Anxiety or Coronavirus?

With so much information during this uncertain time, it’s hard not to feel anxiety. High levels of anxiety however could affect your health and lead to symptoms that mimic those of COVID-19.

Shortness of breath is identified as an increased effort to breathe, chest tightness or a feeling of not getting enough oxygen. While this can be attributed to both anxiety and coronavirus, their symptoms are quite different. Symptoms of anxiety can also include: feelings of panic and fear, obsessive thoughts, excessive sweating, heart palpitations, nausea, dizziness. Symptoms of coronavirus include: fever, dry cough, aches and pains, nasal congestion, sore throat, or diarrhea – the major distinctions in this case being fever and dry cough.

A person who is experiencing shortness of breath due to anxiety may also only experience it in intervals lasting 10 – 30 minutes at a time and symptoms will likely come and go throughout the day. Whereas a person with coronavirus who is having difficulty breathing will experience it for a longer period of time, typically alongside flu-like symptoms.

If you find that you are experiencing anxiety, here are some things that you can do to help ease the symptoms that you may be feeling:

  • Take slow deep breaths
  • Go for a walk or try a stretching exercise
  • Limit the amount of news you watch and read
  • Watch a funny video or movie
  • Read a book or find a hobby you enjoy

If you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety that won’t go away, talk with your doctor about your options. If your shortness of breath is coupled with symptoms of coronavirus, contact your healthcare provider.


Stephen McCullohStephen McCulloh, MD
Baton Rouge General Physicians

(225) 333-3660

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