Strange feelings of suffocation and menopause.

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For about 6 months now, and in clinically confirmed menopause, I have been experiencing these strange and highly distressing episodes whereby I feel I am going to stop breathing, similar to the feeling you get when you are under water and you are running out of air before the surface. I find this terrifying at times. The strange thing is, I don't wheeze or cough, my respiration rate remains normal and I don't experience any chest heaviness or pain. Lung function tests showed I am fit and a recent ECG and blood test were normal. These episodes mostly strike after a period of inactivity and first thing in the morning. During an episode, no one would know there is anything wrong; I don't gasp for air or appear breathless. But the feeling I experience inside my body is extremely unpleasant. It's very difficult to describe. It starts with a feeling in my belly and travels up into my chest. This is sometimes accompanied by what I think is a hot flash...I feel my cheeks are burning and I feel an impulse to sit down.

I have been taking oestrogen patches and progesterone tablets as HRT. My GP recently changed me to combined patches at my request as they're safer, but I still struggle with these awful symptoms and I feel so alone. My GP is very supportive but at a loss to diagnose this. I have suffered with anxiety and I had a series of awful panic attacks last year as a result of a virus. My GP has referred me to a psychologist, but there is a four month wait. I feel so alone. If anyone else experiences this, I would love to know.

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5 Replies

  • Posted

    I describe it as a kind of an adrenaline rush working its way up. It will happen to me when I'm sleeping and then I feel hot. I do think it's a hot flash. As long as you had things checked out and you are healthy I'd suggest just trying to ride it out and not panic, it will go away.

    During the day I get episodes where I feel like I can't breath, coincides with burning feet, headache, stomach pain, teeth pain, shoulder pain.. some or all, and it must just be a hot flash.

    It's pretty awful, but two years in to it I no longer let the anxiety take over about it all. I used to get panic attacks (I think - it was like getting jelly legs and feeling really like I was going to die, is that a panic attack?)

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  • Posted

    It kind of sounds like a hot flash with panic mixed in?

    I used to have similar where I'd start to feel really weird and strange, almost like something was going to happen to my body and it sort of welled up inside me (so hard to describe the feeling) I'd start to think 'Whoa! What's going on!' and then all of a sudden I'd feel a hot flash starting... sometimes the hot flash was pretty insignificant but I'd still get the awful feeling beforehand. It began to happen every time preceding a flash so in the end I recognised it for what it was and just went with it.

    It was quite distressing at first though. I had my heart checked etc.. too!

    As you've been checked out quite thoroughly try not to worry when it happens and just go with it, do whatever you need to do ie sit down, calm yourself until it passes... see if it maybe gets easier with time?

    Hope we all get through this soon!

    AJ. xx

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  • Posted

    hi there - when this is happening, try to distract your mind by holding on to ice or plunging your hands in cold water. i have had it happen to me & i dont know if its plunging hormones, cortisol spikes or anxiety but it is very freaky - someone on this forum described it as "air hunger" & thats what it feels to me - during the time i was experiencing this, i was also smelling cigarette smoke all the time, not sure what that was all about - this menopause stuff is for the birds! feel better!

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  • Posted

    i agree. sounds like hot flash and anxiety. either one can cause the other. hang in there!

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  • Posted

    agree with everyone's replies here. as we begin to understand our symptoms and relate them to menopause, it becomes easier to let it pass. don't worry it might well be a short term thing n by the time ur appt with psychologist is up, u will be feeling better n not be worrying about it much. have u tried deep breathing exercises. some forms of breathing (in pranayama) can help with cooling our body.

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