I'm a healthy, active 20 year old female who has never had any previous health problems. Today I started feeling a shortness of breath and tightness in the chest when I inhale. More specifically, I don't feel like I'm getting enough oxygen, so I have to take deep, over-exaggerated breaths or yawn. Sometimes when I breathe in really deeply, I get a slight pain in my upper right chest. The RN at my university checked my lungs and pulse and said everything sounds and looks fine. She also gave me medicine for heartburn/acid reflux- related problems, but these don't seem to be working. It's hard to concentrate on anything else, let alone sleep. Also, I feel like it's easier to breathe when I stand up and walk around than when I'm sitting or lying down. Could this just be heartburn, or something more serious?
See if your inhales and exhales are the same length. If your inhales are longer than than your exhales it probably is hyperventilation syndrome. This is normally anxiety related (especially if you are in university and completing finals right now, or having stress for other reasons). It also fits with the exercise helping because it helps your body regulate your breathing (since you are more conscious of it when you are resting).
Try breathing through pulsed lips (like you are blowing out a candle) and try some relaxing things like yoga, calm music or have a good time with friends - lots of laughing. Asthma normally causes problems with exhalation and not the air-hungry feeling unless you are having a severe attack (which the doctor should have recognized).
Hopefully those tips help! If nothing is working, don't feel bad about going back to your doctor and letting them now, there is other tests and medications you could try.
I'm sure tammy means well but I hope you look into what's going on carefully. Hyperventillation is a kind of breathing, it's not a syndrome, and I can't see much good evidence for there being any such syndrome.
Has anything happened or changed recently? Have you had any viral infection, done anything different? Have you exercised to the point of having sore muscles? (quite often if I push myself in the gymn and have sore muscles around the chest, I experience some pain breathing deeply and I find it more difficult to breath).
For what it's worth, my opinion is that if you don't feel you can breath properly, trust yourself and see a doctor and get checked out. That doesn't mean there's anything serious, but have it checked out. My breathing will often "seem OK" to a doctor even when I am experiencing some level of difficulty breathing. You don't have to wheeze to have constricted airways, trust me. My main asthmatic symptoms are difficulty breathing and coughing. When I have bricanyl, my cough usually stops and wow, can I breath better. Yet I never wheeze. I'm not saying your symptoms are asthmatic. I don't have a clue.
I suddenly got worse last year when I gave up caffeine. I'm nearly certain, now, that caffeine was helping asthmatic symptoms. I'm glad I'm off caffeine, but only now I'm on proper asthma medication. Then strange things can trigger attacks, like sudden weather changes. There are theories, but nobody really knows why. But for me, it's a very real effect. Then other things can trigger attacks. For example, a few weeks back I shovelled sawdust to move it. It triggered an "attack" (again, I don't wheeze, but I surely get constricted airways).
Actually there is hyperventilation syndrome ..... bascially chronic mild hyperventilation that can affect the chemistry and pH of your blood.
Anxiety and anything that affects your breathing patterns could fit in hyperventilation, asthma attacks could cause it as well.
I have noticed when I'm severly stressed my breathing increases but especially the inhalation phase. Then you end up bringing in more oxygen than your body is using and lowers the level of carbon dioxide that is present in your blood (since more blood cells are holding on to oxygen than carbon dioxide). The lower concentration in your blood of CO2 would lead to a slight change in the pH. The change in pH could affect many other chemical balances in your blood and rest of the body.
It probably is linked to flight or fight response and thus stress and anxiety would play a large role. Below is a decent website with some good information.
This is not a common disease and yes many doctors would disagree that it is a real disease. However there are still people that disagree with fibromagilia and chronic fatigue disorders as being "real diseases" as well.
A doctor said to me that hyperventillation (syndrome) is a description of symptoms, not an explanation of a cause. The important thing, in my view, is that people get checked out to rule out more clear-cut causes of breathing difficulty. If nothing at all is found, and if someone is not responsive to anything, then it may be necessary to look to hyperventillation. However, in my view, it is no place to start.
The question is not whether hyperventillation can cause physiological changes including altered pH. Hyperventillation does do that. The question is whether it is useful to talk about a hyperventillation 'syndrome'. As you say, many doctors would disagree. The fact that some disorders have now been accepted that once were not does not imply that any disorder that has not been accepted will eventually be (the quote below conveys the same kind of point). Please understand: I'm not saying there's no use considering hyperventillation, but I've been sucked into thinking that is a problem before, and I could have wasted a lot of time. I think it makes sense to get checked out and rule out more clear-cut causes first.
But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
Very true, that's why I included the bit about anxiety since it probably it related to that. It is very hard to distinguish between what is a symptom and what is a disease. Asthma attacks could be considered a symptom of the "disease" which could be allergy and immune based. But then allergies could be a disease of an improper immune and on and on.
Most of our western medicine treats the symptoms only so I think it is fine talking of ventilation syndrome, if the real cause cannot be determined, at least treating the hyperventilation symptoms through teaching proper breathing could help greatly. We (humans) created diseases, diseases are only a collection of symptoms that we believe are related and treat them as a "disease". Chinese and other types of medicine classify diseases in different ways and yes their medicine still works, otherwise many more people would have died and the medicine would have probably died out. I'll look tomorrow or Tuesday to see if I can still find the article we read in my medical anthropology course that talked about the differences in medicine - it was mind boggling but made complete sense.
But yes my first post wasn't very good .... that's what happens when you don't look it over and try and rush through it ..... all I gave was a possible reason but I didn't include any other possibilities, oops my fault. :)
It just popped out to me that exercise helped, inhalation was the problem and the doctor thought she was pretty fine. I also had the EXACT same symptoms at the same age during second year university. It was completely anxiety and stress related.
Hi Tammy, yes that's very sensible. My wife is Chinese and her father was a GP, practicing a mix of western and traditional Chinese medicine. Without even asking her the detail, I can well believe that's true. They put me onto Ginseng when I was have difficulties breathing and seemed to be somewhat anaemic. It actually really helped -- although I took a bit too much and it really raised my body temperature. That's a bit of an aside, though--when I looked it up, from what I gathered the use of Ginseng was more related to clusters of symptoms than cause; and I totally agree that it's often hard, even impossible, to distinguish clear-cut cause and effect.
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