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Know the Causes of Rapid Shallow Breathing

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6. Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious condition that can cause rapid, shallow breathing. Diabetic ketoacidosis is far more prevalent in people with type 1 diabetes than in those with type 2.

diabetic ketoacidosis causes rapid shallow breathing

Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Due to this, the body starts using stored body fat instead of glucose (sugar) as a source of fuel. This leads to the acids called ketones (by-products of the breakdown of fat) build up in your body.


When concentration levels in the blood of ketones increases, it can overwhelm the body, leaving the body unable to effectively rid itself of them. This ultimately affects the respiratory system that tries to compensate through shallow, rapid breathing.

Diabetes ketoacidosis is a very dangerous condition and should be treated as an emergency.

7. Bronchiolitis

In small children, bronchiolitis can cause difficulty in breathing.

bronchiolitis causes rapid shallow breathing in children


It is a common infection of the lungs caused by a virus that makes the tiny airways in the lungs swell. Due to the swelling, the airways become narrower, which makes it harder to breathe, making the person take rapid, shallow breathes.


Other signs and symptoms of bronchiolitis include fever, running nose, heavy cough, wheezing, flaring of nostrils, increased irritability and tiredness.

8. Pulmonary Embolism

In simple terms, pulmonary embolism means having a blood clot in the lung. The clot forms due to a blockage in a blood vessel in the lungs .

pulmonary embolism causes rapid shallow breathing

This can lead to hyperventilation as well as other symptoms like chest pain, coughing, and rapid or irregular heartbeat.

It is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition. Hence, prompt treatment is important and can be life-saving.


  1. Rapid shallow breathing. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. https://medline.gov/ency/article/007198.htm. Accessed February 23, 2018.
  2. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs307/en/. Accessed February 23, 2018.
  3. Choking Backention and Rescue Tips. National Safety Council. http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/safety-at-home-choking.aspx. Accessed February 23, 2018.
  4. Pulmonary Embolism | Deep Vein Thrombosis | MedlinePlus. MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You. https://medline.gov/pulmonaryembolism.html. Accessed February 23, 2018.

Know the Causes of Rapid Shallow Breathing was last modified: March 1st, 2018 by Top10HomeRemedies

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