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What Causes Shortness of Breath and Fatigued Muscles?

author image Judy Bruen
Judy Bruen is a private certified personal trainer and wellness coach. She holds dual master's degrees from Boston College in clinical social work and pastoral ministry. She currently works with individuals on fitness, health and lifestyle goals.
What Causes Shortness of Breath and Fatigued Muscles?
Young woman sitting on the pavement with shopping bags. Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images


Shortness of breath and fatigued, or tired muscles may be symptoms of a health condition. If your symptoms persist, cause you concern or interfere with your activities of daily living, contact your doctor for a medical evaluation. Understanding various causes of these symptoms may help you distinguish and determine if one is affecting your well-being.

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure, or CHF, occurs when your heart does not pump the necessary amount of blood throughout your body for healthy functioning. Narrowed arteries, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease all contribute to CHF. Symptoms of chronic CHF include shortness of breath when reclining or engaging in physical activity, muscular weakness and fatigue. Additional symptoms include sudden weight gain due to fluid retention, swelling in your abdomen, nausea and an irregular heartbeat. If you experience acute CHF, foamy, pink mucus may accompany your shortness of breath. Untreated, CHF may be terminal; the condition requires medical intervention. Talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes and medications that may improve your situation.

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Fibromyalgia affects 2 percent of adults in the United States, reports FamilyDoctor, an online resource of the American Academy of Family Physicians. The disorder's symptoms include joint, muscular, ligament and tendon pain, which all contribute to feelings of muscular and overall fatigue and weakness. Additional symptoms include chest pain, achy muscles, an irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath. While fibromyalgia does not pose life-threatening danger or damage your organs, it may cause constant and chronic pain, fatigue and discomfort. Talking to your doctor about medications and lifestyle changes may help you learn how to manage and decrease the symptoms of your condition. Stress and poor sleep may worsen your symptoms, while low-impact aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling on a stationary bike, may alleviate your discomfort and pain.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, symptoms include excessive worrying, a constant state of anxiety or experiencing unrealistic concern. With GAD, you may feel anxious over a situation when concern is not warranted. For example, someone with GAD may feel anxiety about making breakfast, taking a shower or performing other daily activities. Symptoms of GAD include shortness of breath and tense or tight muscles, which contribute to muscular fatigue and discomfort. Additional symptoms include heart palpitations, feelings of dizziness and sweating. Contact your doctor if your anxiety persists; you may benefit from therapy, medicine or both.

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