I have been to the ER with shortness of breath

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I was diagnosed with panic attacks and anxiety. I am 40yo and I have never had a problem with anxiety and never been short of breath. I dont have a cough or chest pain. When I go to the ER my o2 saturation is always 98 and my pulse is elevated to about 95 because of white coat syndrome.  I was given a few chest xrays over about 6 visits.  the first one was cloudy and an RN  told me on a second visit to the ER that the radiologist thought it might be ILD. I had another x-ray that day and it came back clear. I went to a pulmonologist and he looked at the first xray and said it was overexposed - that my lungs are clear. he gave me a spirometry test and i scored 99% in all of the categories but pef - where I got an 84%. I also used a peak flow meter and blew a 800 - which is way higher than average for my age and height. I also sometimes get a run of PVCs - like 9 a minute - but my doctor says that they are caused by stress. lately I havent had any of those. the ER and my doctors tell me that I am healthy and only suffer from anxiety. my symptoms do abate when i take klonopin. all of my blood work is clear - electrolites, thyroid, heart, clear d-dimer.

at home my pulse goes down into the 60s like normal when a lay down. and my oxygen saturation sometimes falls to 94. but it also goes back up to 97 if i take a deeper breath but it stays around 96. i can walk a mile on a treadmill and my sats doesnt fall below 95. i also often feel short of breath at home with no other panic attack symptoms. 

i am really bothered by shortness of breath though. it scares me. i have been in bed for a while with worry. how should i persue this?

i have indigent (free) care at my hospital. does anybody know if a family doctor can order an echocardiogram at a hospital? the er wont give me one.  a cardiologist wont even talk to me without insurance. also are there any lung scans  i can ask for short of a ct scan? i would rather not deal with that much radiation.

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5 Replies

  • Posted

    Dear Mobo,

    I read and re-read your post.  First let me say that shortness of breath is very very scary as you know and I am so sorry you are suffering.  That in and of itself can set off panic like no other.  I am not a doctor of course, but as a pulmonary patient myself for my whole life, I want to say that Klonopin sounds good for you.  

    Are you in the States?  If you are, then I can tell you that you have every right to seek care.  In my opinion, it would be prudent to pursue other tests like you mentioned and do not worry about the radiation.  After all, you need to do what you need to do in order to get this under control and the trade off is worth it.  There are resources for help with obtaining what you need and yes, in the States a primary doc can order any test he feels you need.  Do not let the system, the doctors treat you as if you are nothing!  

    If you are using the NHS, then I cannot give advice.

    Have you considered seeing an allergy and asthma specialist?  They have all kinds of tests and suggestions for help with breathing.  Do you know of any allergens you are allergic to?  Have you been around something new in the atmosphere of your world?  Do you smoke or does anyone in your space smoke?  We can become allergic to something in our environment that has never  bothered us before!  Might be worth a check.  It appears as though your readings, levels, and fluctuations are in the safe zone.

    Stress is like a beast that sneaks in slowly into your being and infiltrates every facet of your body and life.  It would do you well to seek behavior awareness or modification or meditation and relaxation to counter act this beast. We let it into ourselves and it takes work to recognize it, recognize triggers and learn how to abolish it or at least learn to manage it.

    I hope something I have said will help you a little bit.



    • Posted

      thanks for the great response. my doctors are convinced my problem is 100 percent stress related. btw my sister has tons of allergies but she was coughing and sneezing all the time. i have no coughing or sneezing or wheezing. but i guees it could be allergies. my grandmas house is dusty as hell. i have also been thinking it might be gerd. i have terrible heartburn and i read your body can constrict the airways in your lungs to stop acid from backing up in there. and it can cause bad sob. i kind of hope that is what it is - because it isnt as terrible many of the other options that I have read about. i also thought about valley fever and lyme disease. they can both cause shortness of breath and tirdness and pvcs. 

      the thing is this started about 3 days after going to the er the first time in my life - for high blood pressure. since it has been an almost daily problem.

    • Posted

      Is your heart rate going up along with your bp? That can also cause that out of breath sensation. Sure hope you have been able to find a way to control your response to stress and hopefully boost that with a bit of anti-anxiety medication, or herbal tea, or yoga, or meditation, or whatever helps you best.

      Take care!

    • Posted

      it doesnt dawn. my heart rate and bp only goes up when i get stressed or go to the er. i am pretty sure my pulse ox only changes because i am moving. when i sit still it goes up to 98. i have been taking lexapro and after some dizziness i feel like it is helping a little with my shortness of breath. i also feel like klonopin might be causing my breathlessness. when i stopped taking it - it seems like it may be improving.
    • Posted

      Well just know that I am thinking of you and hope that all will level out for you soon.

      Warm hugs


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