How do you know if you have a pulmonary embolism?

So, did your doctor tell you that the recent breathing problems and chest pains might indicate pulmonary embolism? Oh no! But don’t worry; let me give you an insight into what exactly is a pulmonary embolism, and how would you know if it has affected your lungs.

What is a Pulmonary Embolism (PE)?

If we break down the term ‘pulmonary embolism,’ it comprises two words: ‘pulmonary’ meaning related to the lungs and ’embolism’ meaning blockage of blood vessels due to clot formation. In simple terms, PE occurs when one or more blood clots formed in other parts of our body travel through circulation channels avoiding filters available within them until they reach arteries that feed our lungs. The result- reduced blood flow or obstructed artery leading from low oxygen level conditions to shortness of breath, chest pain or even death (wait what!)

Signs and Symptoms

Asking yourself some thoughtful questions can give us clues about whether we possess these symptoms:

  1. Shortness of Breath: Feeling out of breath while climbing stairs lately?
  2. Painful Breathing: Believe us; it’s not just because perhaps 2020 turned out otherwise.
  3. Coughing : Do not blame it only on hay fever though..
  4. Bluish coloration in lips/tongue/nails: No halloween makeup please!
  5. Swollen legs/ankles/hands: At least now convince people this was for real with swollen.

Let’s take each point separately so that there isn’t any confusion which could lead mistaken self-diagnosis at home without medical supervision – CAUSING MORE HARM THAN CURE.

Shortness of Breath

While running like Usain Bolt record time is expected but walks turning into a Herculean task, that may indicate something odd. Do not ignore it; instead, try to exhale the maximum amount of CO2 out and check if there is any trouble doing so (a deep yoga breath would be helpful here).

Painful Breathing

It could be sharp or consistent pain (not like in breaking up with someone that takes time), but don’t worry because we are going to play ‘detective’ here. Locate where you feel the pain while breathing- chest region, upper back part? Feel any tightness too? Any wheezing noise when exhaling due to continuous tingling sensation? Don’t hesitate; just pick your phone and get an appointment booked promptly.


If cough spans much longer than hay fever’s typical range even after follow-ups via doctors for treatment without noticeable changes, then this might indicate a PE symptom.

Pro tip: Do not self-medicate thinking about ‘getting over from regular cough with medicines on pharmacy empty shelves,’ it could only “probably” make things worse!

Bluish Coloration in Lips/Tongue/Nails

Your skin color has suddenly taken blue hue- but now you know at least singing songs all-night isn’t responsible behind it. Take immediate medical attention (calling ambulance alert!), which suggests lack of oxygen reaching your lungs due to blood clot attack Pe related symptom.

Swollen Legs/Ankles/Hands:

Wait Whatt?! Did I land safely after Star Trek Scene though since they always come pre-loaded with delayed flight ankle/bone swelling results!

On a serious note swollen body parts might indicate improper blood flows within them because of blockage led by clots – suggesting needed medical consultation necessary for identifying genuine causes as ignoring and waiting will bring certain complications ahead down the road.

Potential Risk Factors Leading towards Pulmonary Embolism:

Here we list some of the potential risk factors that may increase an individual’s risk of developing PE so that necessary preventive measures (you read it right) must be taken by looking into them:

  1. Long-term bed rest and immobility: Remember when “Harry was kept confined under restricted motion” for practicing magic? Yeah, something similar to this.
  2. Pregnancy: Dear mothers-to-be, do not neglect signs such as breathlessness or swelling in your legs/tightly fitting clothing might cause harm than good after all!
  3. Age has a significant role here: Do you belong to those individuals who think age will only bring ‘shades’ of gray hair on months basis then perhaps reconsider due to unwanted fluid accumulation causing clot formation within vessels?
  4. Obesity : Size does matter indeed- with excess fat deposits obstructing proper pathways of blood flow
  5. Smoking or undergoing Hormonal Therapy : Your life your choice – but sometimes informed choices aren’t bad either.


To summarize everything mentioned before, pulmonary embolism is a severe condition occurring suddenly without any prior warning sign possible disrupting everyday routine into serious medical emergency situation following breathlessness/cough/abnormal chest pains observations etc for which prompt medical consultations no matter how trivial they sound followed correctly could lead towards saving human lives rather than other way around at stake based on different well-informed symptoms available post self-inspection via phone camera check up!