Scared something is seriously wrong

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lalala16
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Date Joined Dec 2007
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   Posted 1/15/2008 1:40 PM (GMT -7)   
In early December I went to the ER with shortness of breath. I had a chest x-ray, ct scan, and an EKG....everything came back as being normal and was sent home with an albuterol inhaler which didn't do anything, and a prescription for Klonopins. I have been taking the Klonopins for over a month now however I am still experiencing the shortness of breath (feeling like I need to constantly yawn to get my chest to expand enough to take a breath). I stopped going to the gym for a month, as it seemed to get worse afterward, last night I started back and ran only 2 miles and felt like I couldn't breath. This morning I woke up with a headache so bad I felt as if I had drank a whole bottle of vodka the night before. Is there something seriously wrong with me or could this just be anxiety?
 
I went to my PCP at the end of December and he wanted to me to take the Klonopins as needed, so I haven't been taking them as often, maybe only once a day instead of 3 times per day to see whether I may have had a panic attack or if I have generalized anxiety disorder. He also said it may be a malfunction of my resp. system but seemed to not worry about that too much at the time. I am scared my brain is not getting enough oxygen and that's why I am getting these horrible headaches. Does any one have any advice?

Post Edited (lalala16) : 1/15/2008 1:43:09 PM (GMT-7)


els
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Date Joined Oct 2005
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   Posted 1/15/2008 5:15 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi lalala, I would say if all your tests came back normal, your not having chest pain just shortness of breath (which is very common with a/p) then it most likely was anxiety/panic.  I realize it is hard to grasp when you havent ever had it before or it just comes on all of a sudden like that but sometimes it just does for no reason at all.  Our brains are very complex.  

Klonopin is a pretty strong anti-anxiety medication to be taking everyday even if it is just as needed.  If it continues in this direction you may want to look at other medications that have less sedating side effects.

Please do keep us updated. 


Elisha
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lalala16
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Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 101
   Posted 1/16/2008 7:29 AM (GMT -7)   
Els,

I do experience some chest discomfort, it feels like my heart is tired from being over worked and sometimes I get palpitations. I am also concerned about the headaches I have been getting, and also that this seems to get worse after exercise. I don't understand why my chest feels like it won't expand enough to get a breath in, therefore I am constantly yawning, and even that doesn't always work.

The Klonopins don't seem to make too much of a difference, but this is starting to affect my sleep, and job. When I'm on the phone I constantly feel like I'm out of breath and can not finish a sentence. I ran 5 miles last night and seemed ok other than I felt like I needed to take a deep breath but couldn't do so, but I didn't pass out or anything, so I guess that's a good sign at least, right?

I am just sick of feeling this way. Is there something these tests wouldn't have caught that a stress test/echocardiogram, etc.... might catch?

Thank you so much for your help.

els
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   Posted 1/16/2008 6:15 PM (GMT -7)   

lalala,

A chest x-ray and ct scan will show abnormal size to the heart and is handy in ruling out certian disorders that can be common with shortness of breath.  So if these came back normal then this is a good sign.  Also, an EKG is most usually the starting point that physicians use to start to diagnose a heart condition.  Most people who have heart problems will have an abnormal EKG.

Yes, stress tests, echos and above all cardiac caths are the best to find out if your heart is structurally sound.  What you need to take into consideration is if you have a family history of heart problems/disease, diet, alcohol consumption and stress factors.  These are things a cardiologist will look at.

Bottom line here is, if you feel that there is something wrong and it isnt being treated correctly then you should seek further treatment until you feel comfortable with what you are told.  It is your body and only you know how you feel.


Elisha
Co~Mod: Depression
Moderator: Heart & Cardiovascular Disease
http://www.healingwell.com/donate


lalala16
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 101
   Posted 1/17/2008 7:21 AM (GMT -7)   
Els,

My doctor wanted me to take the medication for anxiety as needed and see how that goes. I have a follow up appt. next Friday. I had one grandfather who developed heart disease in his 50's other than that everyone else is healthy. At the age of 24 I eat really healthy (salads at least once a day, and no fried food), but I drink maybe 2-3 beers a night. I this bad? will that contribute?

Sarita
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Date Joined Mar 2005
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   Posted 1/17/2008 3:53 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi lala,
I am a medical student currently in the middle of studying cardiac physiology so I thought I might chime in. I agree with els - at the age of 24, with a normal EKG, it is unlikely you have heart disease, so hopefully just a little reassurance will go a long way in making you feel better. I'm sorry you are not feeling well lately. This might sound weird, but sometimes that feeling you're describing (feeling like you need to yawn to get more oxygen, never feeling like you've taken a good full breath) can actually be caused by hyperventilation, which is often caused by anxiety. One thing that some doctors suggest is that when you feel this way, try breathing into a paper bag for a couple of minutes, which can balance out the oxygen/carbon dioxide ratio. Has the Klonopin had any effect that you've noticed?

Lots of people experience heart palpitations and they are very annoying and concerning if you haven't felt them before. You should know that palpitations can certainly be worsened with alcohol, so you might try cutting back your consumption for a while to see if that has any effect. Of course, alcohol can also cause hangover headaches, so if you do imbibe you should always make sure to drink plenty of water.

Keep us updated!
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lalala16
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Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 101
   Posted 1/19/2008 10:23 AM (GMT -7)   
Sarita,

I'm not sure if the Klonopin is making much of a difference. The good thing with it is that I am lucky to not experience any side effects in taking it. When I have the headaches they are not after a night of drinking, they are after a night of working out, and drinking plenty of water. That is what initially made me so nervous because I thought maybe they wee a result of my brain not getting enough oxygen...is that possible? I just don't understand why my anxiety (if that's what it is) is worse with exercise and after exercise is when I feel like I can't breath....any idea?

lalala16
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 101
   Posted 1/19/2008 2:33 PM (GMT -7)   
Also, one thing that did worry my doctor was my low grade fever when I went for my appointment last month, it was only 99.5 but I'm usually only around 97.2 for my normal temp.

I got bit by a tick a while ago over the summer but was told in Florida that they rarely ever see any lymes disease cases. Do my symptoms sound at all like they could be related to lyme? I forgot to ask my doctor about that but will definately do so when I go back next week.

Sarita
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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 1/19/2008 3:14 PM (GMT -7)   
Lala,
If you are having repeated episodes of shortness of breath and you have trouble when you exercise, it might be worth it - even just for peace of mind - to get a cardiology referral and perhaps get a stress echocardiogram. The fact that you had a normal EKG is reassuring but sometimes exercise can bring on symptoms that are not discernible at rest. Essentially, what they do during a stress echo is hook you up to an EKG (which monitors your heart's rate and rhythm) and perform an ultrasound of your heart to check it for structural abnormalities, all while you are steadily increasing your heart rate while walking/running on a treadmill. It's kind of awkward, but it's the only way to tell if there's anything structural going on.

I've had several abnormal EKGs in the past and had a stress echo, which showed some minor regurgitant blood flow in the aortic valve. That may sound scary, but it's really not very serious. I am telling you this because even if you had an abnormal EKG or stress echo, that is not necessarily a major problem. I emphasize this because people do get very nervous and anxious when they have heart symptoms (justifiably) and sometimes that anxiety overwhelms people and the symptoms actually worsen. So, keep that in mind if you do decide to see a cardiologist.

As far as your temperature goes, normal human body temp can range from around 97.0-99.5 on a daily basis, with highs and lows throughout the day; circadian and hormonal cycles have profound effects on our temperatures. If you are feeling feverish every day, that is one thing, but if your temp just happened to be running a little high that day, it's probably nothing to worry about.
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lalala16
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 101
   Posted 1/19/2008 4:07 PM (GMT -7)   
Sarita,

Thank you so much for all of your help, you have been very informative. With all of the shortness of breath that I experience I do believe it has to be related to anxiety. I felt like i had it all day the other day then I went to the mall and idn't think about it and realized as soon as I walked out that it had gone away the entire time I was there and returned as soon as I was walking out to my car. I also don't seem to notice it when I go out with friends on the weekends.

But.....If there was something wrong, with the amount that I experience is this something that can not wait until my doctors appt. on Friday, or does it seem as though I will be ok with waiting considering last time I went to the hospital with all of these symptoms they said everything was fine and released me.

Sarita
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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 1/19/2008 5:01 PM (GMT -7)   
I think the best thing for you to do would be to keep going out with your friends, go see a funny movie, and get your mind off it :) I'm glad that worked. If you are occupied with other things and don't notice it, then it's very likely related to anxiety. The mind is a very powerful thing and can get us into trouble sometimes. I know because it's happened to me too (it's happened to everyone). If you continue to be worried about it, maybe you could call your doctor and just run it by him/her or the nurse, and they can guide you from there. I'd just hate for you to go through a bunch of unnecessary testing and worry because that becomes a hard cycle to break!

It's Saturday night...go out and have some fun with your friends!
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lalala16
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Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 101
   Posted Yesterday 1:39 PM (GMT -7)   
Sarita,

I seemed ok yesterday, was able to breath fairly well. today is another story, I am all shaky, I feel like my heart is beating a mile a minute, and even skipping a beat every now and then. I am supposed to go back to my doctor's on Friday however I am in the middle of waiting for my health insurance application to be approved and I'm not sure whether to go and pay out of pocket AGAIN for this trip, or wait. If something is wrong, am I in serious danger from what you can see from my symptoms?

lalala16
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 101
   Posted 1/23/2008 4:41 PM (GMT -7)   
My breathing has been a little better however I am still having horrible headaches, like I have a hangover when I didn' drink the night before. I was told I have hyperventilation but where are these headaches coming from?

I would really appreciate any input someone can give....

Sarita
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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 1/23/2008 11:34 PM (GMT -7)   
I am glad your breathing is better, that is a step in the right direction! As far as the headaches go, it could be eyestrain (have you been online more than usual?), muscle tension in the neck (most commonly), dehydration...

Sometimes what you need to do for a bigger-than-usual headache is go at it from several angles. Get a massage, take anti-inflammatories, ice packs on the forehead and neck, and plenty of fluids and rest - and also get your exercise. Essential oil of lavender or spearmint has been shown to be pretty effective, actually, as well - put a few drops in the bathtub. The OTC drug Excedrin is nice because it contains aspirin and caffeine, which is actually a well-known antidote to headaches (unless you are a habitual caffeine-addict and abruptly withdraw the caffeine, which causes a rebound headache). Headaches are tricky! Maybe try some of those remedies in succession (or simultaneously) to see if you can nip the ol' ache in the bud! Let us know how it goes...
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lalala16
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 101
   Posted 1/24/2008 7:29 PM (GMT -7)   
My breathing was at it's worst today. My co-worker (who shared a hotel room with me the past couple days) said I go through periods of sleep apnea and have a long lapse between breaths. Is this just sleep apnea or could it be the symptom of something more?

Sarita
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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 1/30/2008 2:15 AM (GMT -7)   
It could be that you have sleep apnea. If you are overweight this is more likely to be an issue. If I were you, I would ask your doctor about getting a sleep study done so they can assess you for sleep apnea. Sometimes that symptom can cause other symptoms like being tired during the day, etc. if you do truly have it. Let us know what your doc says!
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lalala16
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 101
   Posted 2/6/2008 2:52 PM (GMT -7)   
I went to my PCP today and told him I have been on anti anxiety meds for 2 months now and have not noticed a difference. I do not feel as though I have anything to be anxious about (except my health at this point)

He did another EKG on me today but my heart didn't seem to be palpitating at that time of course, will that make a difference in the results?

He also did a Pulmonary function test which I guess my results looked ok with. Do you think with all of these tests comning back normal I have something serious?

With Pulmonary Hypertension would you have high blood pressure?
 
And would an EKG show if I had pericarditis or would I need further testing?

Post Edited (lalala16) : 2/6/2008 3:27:11 PM (GMT-7)


LoloBug
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Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 2/10/2008 2:16 AM (GMT -7)   
lalala,
I know all about health anxiety, especially worrying about breathing and cardiovascular health. I have caused myself sleep apnea as I'm falling asleep before just from thinking about breathing too much. If in fact you do have sleep apnea, that would probably explain the headaches in the morning. As for the shortness of breath, I've experienced that a lot too. Its a common symptom of anxiety. I'm no doctor, but if the shortness of breath went away when you were with your friends and at the mall, it sounds like anxiety. When your mind was off of it, it was gone. People with anxiety are extremely self aware, so anything even slightly out of the ordinary makes you focus on it and jump to all kinds of conclusions. Just think about this, if you were somewhere and started hearing a beeping sound and someone said, "dont focus on this sound" the sound would inevitably get louder and louder until it was all you could think about. This shortness of breath you have probably just started out for some unimportant reason and you focused on it and focused on it until it felt like it was way more severe than it actually is. And the fact that you have a bunch of negative tests also sounds like you are totally healthy. I think you should do what makes you feel at ease though. If it makes you feel better to get those tests, then you should, but be careful because people spend their whole lives worrying about their health and spending thousands of dollars on tests and trips to the hospital just from anxiety and thinking you have something that you dont. I'm someone who is constantly worrying about health and its a terrible road to travel down, so tell yourself you aren't sick and that its all in your head. The mind is extremely powerful. Sometimes when you catch your mind racing with worrying thoughts, you just have to stop and say "STOP!!" out loud. It sounds kind of ridiculous, but it breaks the cycle.

Sarita,

Since you are studying to be a doctor I thought I'd ask you something to put my mind at ease. I know that chest pain is common with anxiety, but is arm pain common too? I've been experiencing frequent aching arm pain the past few days. Sometimes it even give me pins and needles in my fingers. I also sometimes have chest discomfort and like I cant take a deep breath. I'm only 19 and fairly healthy. I'm 5'2" and 105 pounds. I do smoke but not heavily for months. Usually just 1-2 cigarettes per day maybe not even that much. I dont get much exercise, but is there a chance of heart disease even though I'm so young? I have heart disease in my family, but only in middle to old age. What are the chances of something structurally wrong with my heart and how would I know? Thanks!!

lalala16
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 101
   Posted 2/12/2008 6:33 PM (GMT -7)   
I am just worried because I had another EKG at my Primary Care's office as well as a Pulmonary Funtioning test....both were normal. But my heart wasn't palpitating at the time of the EKG and I wasn't getting the pains in the heart either, so would the EKG find another abnormal? They are so quick that I feel like it wouldn't find anything.

Any ideas?

Sarita
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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 2/13/2008 12:43 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Lolobug,
Keeping in mind that I've only been in medical school for six months (and the training is four years, followed by an additional three years of residency) so I have a long way to go. And I'm not comfortable yet trying to diagnose people even when they are in the clinic, so online it is infinitely more difficult (if not impossible). But there are a lot of things that can cause arm pain. Your risk factors are low, given the fact that you are so young, average and perhaps sub-average in weight, to have any major cardiac abnormalities. Have you seen a physician about these concerns? If there's one thing that causes the most health anxiety, I'd say it usually concerns cardiac issues. The best thing for you to do is visit your family doctor and express those concerns to him/her for your peace of mind.

Lala,
Two normal EKGs is a good sign. If your pulmonary function test was normal too, that's another bonus. Sometimes if the palpitations are particularly impacting your life, the best thing to do would be to first get a baseline EKG. Eventually you might get an Holter monitor, which records your rhythm for 24 hours, or an event monitor, which is basically a little device you carry around that records your heart rhythms for a month; when you feel something funny, you press a button and they try to see if your symptoms correlate with any arrhythmia. These are easy and painless tests. But again, the first thing to do would be to explain your symptoms to your family doctor.

I was recently hospitalized for an arrhythmia that was due to dehydration caused by a chronic gastrointestinal illness, which causes electrolyte imbalances and can make an EKG reading look totally bizarre. But it turned out to be nothing particularly serious. Being young and fit with no history of early-onset heart disease is a pretty good indication that your heart is functioning normally. Palpitations happen, but are not always a sign of significant pathology. So go get checked out, and if you have normal results, you might not need any further testing.

Hope this helps, and I wish both of you the best. Keep us updated on your progress!
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