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Shortness of Breath, Cough, Fatigue & Weight Loss

author image Rose Kitchen
Rose Kitchen is a freelance medical writer pursuing a bachelor's degree in sociology and education. She has a nursing background and is going back to nursing school in September 2011 for her R.N. Kitchen holds a certificate in anatomy and physiology and English and is pursuing certificates in natural and alternative medicine, fitness and nutrition and sports nutrition.
Shortness of Breath, Cough, Fatigue & Weight Loss
Fatigue may indicate something else is going on. Photo Credit Klaus Tiedge/Blend Images/Getty Images

Shortness of breath, weight loss, cough and fatigue by themselves are relatively common symptoms in a large variety of medical conditions. When all four are combined, they don't fit in with many different medical medical conditions. If you experience all four of these symptoms together, see your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible. The conditions these symptoms indicate are serious and require prompt treatment.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer may cause shortness of breath, weight loss, cough and fatigue. Other symptoms may include appetite loss, wheezing, coughing up blood and chest pain. About 20 percent of lung cancers are small cell lung cancers, but the most common type is non-small cell lung cancer, according to PubMed Health. Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause, but other possible causes including high pollution levels, asbestos, radiation therapy to your lungs, arsenic in high levels and radon gas. Type determines treatment; chemotherapy, surgery and radiation are common.

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HIV is an infectious disease that may eventually cause the AIDS virus. AIDS can be life-threatening and damages your immune system. HIV transmission can occur during sexual intercourse, sharing needles, blood transfusions or from mother to child, according to the Mayo Clinic. Beginning symptoms may include headache, sore throat, fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes. As the virus progresses, you may experience diarrhea, weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, cough, fever and shortness of breath. Once this virus has become AIDS, symptoms may include high fever, chronic diarrhea, headaches, distorted or blurry vision, bumps or rashes on skin, soaking night sweats, shortness of breath, tongue or mouth lesions, weight loss, cough, shaking chills and unexplained, persistent weight loss, according to the Mayo Clinic. Treatment includes drugs such as non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, protease inhibitors, integrase inhibitors, nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and fusion or entry inhibitors.

Pulmonary Tuberculosis

This contagious infection is caused by bacteria and primarily affects your lungs. Symptoms may include cough, excessive sweating, fever, trouble breathing, wheezing, coughing up blood, fatigue, unexplained weight loss and chest pain, according to PubMed Health. Treatment includes drugs, most commonly isoniazid, pyrazinamide, rifampin and ethambutol. To fight the infection, you will most likely receive a combination of drugs.

Diffuse Interstitial Lung Disease

This is a group of disorders affecting the lungs, characterized by inflammation in the deep tissues of the lungs. The primary symptom is shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include dry cough, fatigue, muscle pain, fingernail clubbing, joint pain and bluish lips, nails and skin, according to MedlinePlus. There is no specific treatment, but immunosuppressant drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed.

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