My husband is 70 yrs old. We are on holiday
he'd better visit a local doctor or the local ER
welcome to the 'Ask a Doctor' service.
Shortness of breath is a serious symptom in most cases. Inability to talk without having to stop to catch his breath is not normal. If the symptom begun suddenly then it's a little more alarming.
If by 'shortness of breath' he only means a stuffy nose then this is not as serious as the aforementioned cases.
Signs of a more serious disorders may include any (or all) of the following:
- increased respiratory rate (number of breaths per minute): we normally take 14-20 breaths per minute. Anything higher than that and particularly anything higher than 25 breaths per minute requires urgent investigation.
- increased heart rate: serious shortness of breath usually causes a rapid heart rate. More than 100 beats per minute is never normal.
There are more signs of serious respiratory tract disease but it's not easy for the untrained eye to spot them like the use of accessory respiratory muscles (for example).
If there are no signs of serious disease and he only has a stuffy nose then using a decongestant may help. The best thing you can do for him is to take him to the local ER or a local doctor for assessment.
I hope my answer is helpful for you and your husband. Please let me know if you need further assistance.