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Panting While Climbing

By Steve Silverman

Shortness of breath while climbing can be alarming for anyone. Whether you start panting when you are climbing stairs, working on a stair-climbing machine at the gym or mountain climbing, you may have a serious medical condition and you should seek the attention of your physician. There may be a reasonable explanation -- such as being out of shape -- but ignoring the condition could lead to health problem.

Onset of Symptoms

Panting can come on slowly when climbing stairs or if you are on a stair-climbing machine. The fatigue that hits your muscles when you are climbing can also impact your breathing. As your muscles fill with lactic acid, your lungs may also feel the impact slowly. You may make it up two or three flight of stairs without any trouble, but then start to feel difficulty as you climb higher. In other cases, you may start panting within two or three steps. The latter may indicate that you are overweight and out of shape, according to to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Major Illnesses

If you are panting when you are climbing, the National Institutes of Health says there may be several major medical problems that are causing your condition. Those illineses include heart disease, lung disease, a pulmonary embolism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia and pulmonary hypertension.

Lesser Problems

You may have difficulty breathing when you are climbing if you have a cold or a slight nasal decongestion. The same is true if you have bronchitis or pneumonia. If you move to a location with a higher elevation, you may have difficulty breathing at all times and climbing stairs or exercising may lead to even more difficulty. When you have a breathing problem from an illness like the ones mentioned, you need to stop what you are doing and discontinue climbing until you have returned to full health. If you have just moved to a higher elevation, your body will need time to get used to the atmospheric conditions.

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

You should go to the hospital emergency room or seek out your physician if you have a very sudden onset of panting while you are breathing. If the difficulty breathing also accompanies chest pain, fever or massive sweating, you need to get checked out immediately. It is important to stop what you are doing and not try to "tough it out" and keep going.

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