Shortness of breath after general anesthetic

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Just over 2 weeks ago I got taken into hopsital with a perianal abscess and sepsis that was dealt with under general anesthetic.

Since then I have been suffering from shortness of breath and mild left side chest pain.

I've been to my GP twice who can find nothing obviously wrong within the limit of what they can check at the surgery. They suggested I have a chest x-ray and I had that the other day so am awating results but don't expect them to show anything.

Due to existing problem with acute Sleep Apnoea I had my annual appointment with the Respiratory Medicine department yesterday and they said my SPO2 levels were OK so go back and pester GP for referal for further investigation.

So I'm back to square one and no farther forward with getting to route of why this has occured after a general anesthetic sad

I have faith / trust in my GP but wonder if anyone has suggestions to what is the problem ?

Cheers.

Paul H

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15 Replies

  • Posted

    My opinion or thoughts are, you may hav picked up an infection or it is an irritation from being intubated during the operation maybe even picked up a hospital bug. Just ideas to throw at your doctor.

    Owen

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  • Posted

    its frustrating that the chest clinic stuck to their own narrow agenda of your sleep apnoea, but i think you will initially need to follow up on the xray result. If that is normal the GP will need to explore other reasons for feeling breathless. If you are very overweight and have sleep apnoea you may well have high blood pressure and other health issues which can affect your heart. Heart problems can make you short of breath and so can anaemia(low blood count). Your GP can arrange a BNP blood test which is a simple screening test for heart failure. If that is abnormal he can organise a scan (echo) of the heart for valve or heart muscle problems. So there is lots your GP can do. 
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  • Posted

    Paul, it could very well be an infection and worth checking out. If you are coughing up anything, ask your GP to culture it to rule out bacteria and/or which kind it might be if it is there.

    I have twice contracted bacteria/virus in my lungs while being a patient in the hospital. One bacteria was Staph and the other was a cousin to MRSA. These are very serious. Please Google it.

    For the Staph, I had to do a week of Vancomycin intravenously and refused to go into the hospital to do it since the hospital is where I caught the bug, so my doc arranged a pic line to be put in and I did the medicine at home intravenously.

    For the MRSA, they treated it while I was already in the hospital with a medicine that cost $900.00 a pill. In fact I think they kept me longer because my insurance would not cover the pills.

    Be safe! Hope this is not your problem but please have your sputum cultured just in case.

    Dawn, USA

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  • Posted

    Before I was admitted to a ward I was checked for MSRA. For a few weeks before going to hospital there were other problems so GP arrange full blood tests. They picked up on sepsis and something else that would be related to that infection but otherwise bloods were all in normal range. I have got high blood pressure but that is controlled by medication and whilst a little higher than normal is still not of concern to GP / hospital. Many years ago I had loads of tests and it was found that I have a slight LVD (left ventricular dysfunction) but again stable with medication. My left leg is swollen and I'm on "water" tablets pro tem.

    The frustrating thing is despite all my other problems this new one has only occured since having anesthetic. It wasn't even there when ill with sepsis !

    Cheers.

    Paul.

    BTW it's not much fun getting older is it sad

    When you are young you feel invincible and smile at older people who moan about their aches and pains then all of a sudden you realise you have turned into an older person yourself !

    I'm 58 this year.

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    • Posted

      Well Paul, I turn 57 in a couple of months and you want to know my opinion about aging? IT IS BLOODY HARD WORK! Ha! When my granddaughters make a reference to my age, which of course seems ancient to them, I simply say, my dears, if you live long enough, it will happen to you too, so always respect your elders.

      Dawn, USA

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  • Posted

    Sounds tough. How is your BMI? Ask your GP for a BNP blood test if they don't suggest it!
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  • Posted

    Hi Paul,

    Sorry to hear you're poorly.

    I just wanted to say that as other people have pointed out there is a possibility that it might be an infection and if you are worried you should check it out

    however, my other half has some complex respiratory issues and when we has undergone anaesthetic for different procedures his consultant has always made it clear that the anaesthetic on top of his damaged lungs will result in him feeling more breathless then normal.

    His consultant doesn't tend to panic as long as his breathing has returned to normal within 3 months. if it goes on any longer then we have the stress of tests and additional clinic.

    Guess I just wanted to say if you are concerned push yourGP to take action but there is the chance that your body is just taking that much longer to recover

    Floss

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  • Posted

    X-ray came back clear. Yesterday went back to  Respiratory Medicine and they checked the oxygen level in my blood. A little low but nothing too worrying and not the cause of my problem.

    Tried to book appointment with GP but massive demand so is going to be a few weeks before I can see them for a non urgent problem - which i fully undeerstand.

    Intend asking if recent comprehensive blood tests included a BNP. 

    Last night could only sleep on my right side - this is with using my CPAP machine for Sleep Apnoea. Lying on back or left side breathlessness worse so could indicate  heart. A few years ago I found out I'd been diagnosed with slightly impaired left ventricular function and even have medication to help control / stabalise. Of course nobody (hospital) bothered to tell me this and I assumed medication was just something else they were trying to reduce my blood pressure as it was proving difficult and numerous tablets tried. In fact I have ingrowing big toe nails. Podiatrist said she couldn't sort them out due to medicaltion (Clopidogrel) so would need doing at hospital. Initial appointment at hospital presented problems aas normally you need to stop medication for a period before treatment but doctor sais there was a risk of me having another stroke or heart attack. I agreed I'd had a couple of minor strokes (plus three TIA's) but not a heart attack. He looked at records and corrected me by saying that was the reason I was admited to an observation ward by A&E after referal by a locum GP.

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  • Posted

    Glad to hear the xray was ok. Did they comment on the size of the heart shadow on the plain chest X-ray? If you had left ventricular dysfunction you are probably on an ACE inhibitor (something ending in ...pril) and maybe bisoprolol both of which also get used for blood pressure. 

    If your heart is struggling the BNP will probably show it up and the ACE inhibitor may need adjusting.

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  • Posted

    Yep - on Bisoprolol (as well as Amiloride, Atorvastatin, Candesartan, Calceos (Vit D), Clopodogrel, Doxazosin, Lansoprazole, Efexor & Ibruprofen !)
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    • Posted

      Yes Candesartan is an alternative to ramipril for BP or engaging heart muscle action. 

      Sticking to my original suggestion of asking your GP if it is worth a BNP blood test and if that is high then go for an echocardiogram to see if your ventricular function has deteriorated. Ask him whether you should be on bisoprolol as well instead of the alpha blocker (doxazosin).

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  • Posted

    I used to also take Ramipril but the side effects were too severe.
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  • Posted

    Next step is to request GP arranges a BNP test. Lost appetite as well - all I've had today is drinks of tea. Need to loose weight so not moaning about that and have already made a nice soup for later - if I can face it.

    I do already take  10mg Bisoprolol, as well as 32mg Candesartin, every morning and 10mg Bisoprolol at night.

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    • Posted

      Sorry, yes you did write that but I overlooked it. The British National Formulary (medicines bible) says that Dox should be used with caution in cardiac failure so if your heart is struggling ( re BNP result and/or echo) may need to reconsider that one.
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  • Posted

    Just got back from GP. Looks like heart problem so an being referred to cardiology as I've already been told I have the start of heart failure a few years ago and things might have got worse. Blood pressure way too high and pulse too low. Had ECG and normal. Bloods, including BNP, taken straight away so fingers crossed I'm on the correct path to getting it properly diagnosed
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