I have been trying to find an answer to this issue for the last 15 months. The first time it started happening to me, I was visiting my mom in Arizona. I went to have my lungs checked out in the hospital. I was experiencing chest pain (found out later it was a result of long-term tooth mild septic infection and my Ritalin at the time made pain in chest worse) along with what felt like shortness of breath but I felt the constant urge to satisfy a breath which only happened maybe every 12 breaths or so. Then the cycle repeated itself. Because of my history of chest pain, (which had started a year before that), they kept me in the hospital. For an entire week. They ran all the wrong tests and did not truly listen to me whilst in the hospital. I had two pulmonologists and a cardiologist plus other insignificant doctors examine me. They ran many x-rays, two CAT scans of lungs and heart plus other stuff. The first pulmonaologist suggested he thought he saw a tiny bit of pneumonia in my lungs. They gave me a respiratory therapist who gave me a hose to breath some blue gunk that dissipated into a vapor. All it did was exacerbate my symptoms. And made my chest pain worse. Then near the end of my week long stay, one doctor came in who was about to discharge me. He told me I had athlete induced asthma. Right- so I am lying in a hospital bed not moving, their Albeuteral therapy makes symptoms worse, these attacks are constant (not really attacks, just there consistently), and I ask him, "If it is athlete induced asthma, would I be contiuously experiencing this issue whilst lying in a hospital bed for a week?" He said no. "So it can't be this." I won't go into the rest of that conversation. All through the week, nurses would be constanty running into my room because of my erratic breathing patterns. I just felt like I could not catch or satisfy my breath and so on their monitors, it looked like I was having some crazy painc attacks or something. I remained on Xanax or Ativan but that did absolutely nothing. The next day, another pulmonologist decided to tell me I had a bloody pleural effusion but did not write that in my chart so that when I did a follow up with my doctor back home in San Diego, he said there was no real diagnosis. The only thing I did differently when all of this started was I increased my Wellbutrin dose from 150 mg to 300 mg. I was also 5 weeks into taking Suboxone. (Which I never should have gone on had I known what the stuff really was). The breathing issues continued for almost two weeks straight and went away when we arrived camping up in the mountains at around 5,000 ft elevation. Just like that. Gone.
Then it came back a few months later. It would occur off and on throughout the year, as we speak. From my experience, everytime I decide to not take my Wellbutrin for a day or two, then go back on it, or increase my dose, this breathing issue comes back. If I try to constantly yawn, it helps me to sort of satisfy my breath but I feel the urge to do this constantly. I am an ultrarunner, occasional strength trainer, and core, sort of healthy, and I live in the country where the air is fair. Running doesn't make it better or worse. The issue is still there if it is going on during that particular episode. It doesn't slow me down. Just a nuisance. I have done extensive research on this issue and have only just begun to dig up some valuable info. Like the O2 and CO2 exchange.
Interesting thing is, I just had a sleep study done and I quit breathing up to 50 seconds at a time and my oxygen levels drop to the 80% range. I cannot wear the CPAP machine they sent me home with because of this breathing issue. I feel like I am suffocating, then I hyperventalate. I haven't fallen asleep with it on once. The other day, I was prescribed Modafinil. It keeps one awake during the day. Now the breathing thing is back. I am going to stop all the stimulants. It exacerbates the issue. Trying to relax helps but anything like tea or coffee or other awake drugs brings it all on. Especially with all the medicine junk that I take. That includes a few thyroid meds but they are fairly new.
If I relax and try to breath just with my stomach, it helps a little. But I have to constantly redirect myself to focus on doing that as I will slip back into the deep breathing to satisfy my breath. If I try to do it with my mouth closed, 80% of the time, my nasal passages become blocked and I have no choice to breath through mouth. That has been ongoing. Especially 99% at night when I lay down.
I resorted to smoking weed for the first time in 15 years, (only for inducing sleep), and that makes it worse. Especially, it causes me to focus more on gasping for a breath even though I feel like my throat and bronchioles and lungs are expanded as much as they can be. No issue moving air in and out. Just some phenomenon that the medical world is probably only tapping into. But I don't know. I will visit my sleep doc tomorrow and see what he has to say. It is usually not going on when I visit my many specialists so I never think to bring it up. Then when it happens, I am weeks away from my next appointment. But one last thing, I feel like when this is occurring, vast quantities of norepinephrine are being circulated around my body. And everything is dialated. Lungs and windpipe. That is how it feels to me. But I don't know. Could be another hormone. I don't think this would be going on if I were on all these drugs. Especially the Wellbutrin.