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Your Ultimate Guide to Tachypnea: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Home > Blogs > Your Ultimate Guide to Tachypnea: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Your Ultimate Guide to Tachypnea: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Pulmonology | by Dr. Raja Dhar | Published on 05/10/2023


Have you ever thought about your breathing patterns? Certainly, the answer is no. It’s because we humans take breathing for granted. On a regular basis, we inhale and exhale countless times without even realizing it. So, what happens if your breathing is shallow and rapid? Well, it can indicate a condition called tachypnea. If you ever observe that your breathing is fast and shallow, then it can be a reason for concern. You must consult a healthcare professional promptly to diagnose the condition and understand your treatment options. You can book your appointment with the BM Birla Heart Research Centre in Kolkata, the only cardiac hospital across the Eastern region. You will find the most experienced and professional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, pulmonologists, and other healthcare professionals here. 

In this blog, we will involve a comprehensive discussion on tachypnea, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. 

Please note that this blog is for informational purposes only and doesn’t support overlooking the doctor’s consultation in any way. 

What is Tachypnea?

Tachypnea is a clinical term used to refer to abnormal, rapid, and shallow breathing. It is an outcome of too much carbon dioxide or a lack of oxygen. The main triggers of this problem are infections, heat, and asthma. It can occur in newborns, adults, and children. However, it is not an illness or a disease, but a sign of an underlying health condition. Anyone can experience this problem due to benign problems like exercise. It is important to get yourself checked if you notice signs like shallow or fast breathing patterns often. Getting in touch with a healthcare professional will assist you in considering treatment options on time.

What are Tachypnea Symptoms?

Identifying the tachypnea symptoms is critical for initial interference and adequate treatment. Here are some of the symptoms of tachypnea:

  • The trademark of tachypnea is an unusually rapid rate of breathing. It can be subjective and might differ depending on certain factors. 
  • People with this problem usually face problems when trying to catch their breath even during rest. It means shortness of breath in this problem is the common sign to be noticed. 
  • People who have tachypnea experience issues like discomfort in the chest, severe chest pain, etc. which is an outcome of increased breathing. 
  • Anxiety and restlessness are two common signs that must be observed. They are the triggers and people who have this problem face this because of enhanced stress response. 
  • In severe cases, tachypnea causes insufficiency of blood oxygenation that leads to pale or bluish skin, lips, and nail beds. 
  • Tachypnea also causes lightheadedness and dizziness due to insufficiency of oxygen. 
  • Fatigue is another symptom to be noticed linked to tachypnea.

When should you seek emergency help?

Tachypnea is known as a life-threatening condition and it is essential to seek immediate clinical assistance if any of the warning signs are experienced: 

  • Serious breath shortness 
  • Severe chest pain or pressure
  • High fever
  • Confusion 
  • Different mental position

What are Tachypnea Causes?

Tachypnea causes are determined by the following underlying medical conditions: 

  • Respiratory infections such as colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza, etc. cause tachypnea as the body tries expelling the agents of infections. 
  • Asthma is another primary cause of tachypnea because of narrowing and obstruction of the airways. 
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis lead to constant tachypnea. 
  • Anxiety and panic disorders like panic attacks, anxiety, and emotional stress trigger fast breathing leading to tachypnea. 
  • Tachypnea is also caused by fever as it often leads to infection and the body has to put additional efforts into cooling down.
  • Heart conditions are also identified as one of the primary causes of tachypnea. There are conditions like heart attacks, cardiac problems, and congestive heart failure that develop this condition because of reduced cardiac output and oxygen delivery. 
  • Metabolic acidosis causes acid in the body and hence results in rapid breathing stimulation causing tachypnea. 
  • A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot in the lungs that restricts the blood flow leading to fast breathing, thus causing tachypnea.
  • If someone is involved in drug abuse such as stimulants and opioids, then it can result in tachypnea.

How is Tachypnea Diagnosed?

It is important to get in touch with the doctor if you or someone you know is experiencing tachypnea. The doctor will promptly initiate a tachypnea diagnosis by performing a physical assessment. He/she will first evaluate the patient’s medical condition, family history, etc. to gain more clarity. The doctor might certain diagnostic tests to be assured such as chest X-rays, blood tests, and pulmonary function tests. It will help in determining the underlying cause. 

What are the options available for Tachypnea treatment?

The options for tachypnea treatment majorly depend on the main cause. However, the following are the most common options usually recommended for tachypnea treatment: 

  • Medications are prescribed to treat tachypnea such as antibiotics for infections, bronchodilators for asthma, and other medication options for the treatment of particular underlying conditions. 
  • Oxygen therapy is often recommended if the levels of oxygen are low involving the management of supplemental oxygen. 
  • The doctor might recommend breathing exercises for tachypnea treatment. It involves pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing as they both assist in the management of tachypnea symptoms. 
  • Lifestyle changes such as managing a healthy weight, stress management, and quitting smoking, and alcohol play an important role in reducing tachypnea risks. 
  • In rare cases, there might be a need for surgery for the treatment of underlying conditions like blood clot removal in pulmonary embolism cases. 


Tachypnea is a problem that shouldn’t be overlooked in any way. There are several medical conditions that lead to tachypnea and need prompt medical attention. If you are experiencing symptoms like fast and shallow breathing, then it is vital to get in touch with a healthcare expert for a comprehensive assessment and proper treatment. Initial intervention can make a relevant difference in the management and reduce the risks of tachypnea. It will also assist in improved respiratory function and overall well-being.


Is tachypnea dangerous?

No, tachypnea usually is not dangerous but not getting treatment on time can affect the functionality of the brain and body due to insufficient oxygen supply. 

How to reduce tachypnea?

Tachypnea can be reduced by following recommended lifestyle changes by a doctor and practicing deep breathing exercises regularly.