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Bronchospasm
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Bronchospasm

A couple of months ago I had a brief respiratory type flu/cold and when I recovered, I was left with Bronchospasm.  The Broncho spasm is always there and seems to be worse if I sit or lie down or wear clothing that fits very tight in the waist.  Yawning is a very frustrating experience because most of the time I cannot get any air with the yawn.  The problem does not get worse with exercise or physical exertion.  It's just that if I want to take a deep breath for some reason, I just cannot get the air into my lungs.  It's like my lungs are not inflating.  Shallow breathing is quite fine.  It's only when I want to breath deeper than shallow breathing.  
    My doctor has tried me on two different types of inhaler medication and neither one has made even the slightest difference.  He stills seems unconcerned but I am getting very worried.  I am 49 yrs. old, a previous smoker (very light), I have no history of asthma, or any other chronic respiratory condition.  I am very active and quite fit except for this bronchospasm.
    What is causing this condition?  Is this a permanent thing now or will it go away?  Should I ask my doctor to refer me to a specialist?
    Thanks for your help.  I am quite concerned about this.  

Related Discussions
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Sometimes after a viral respiratory infection a person will experience tightness in their chest for a period of time lasting for months. However, this may not be the case for what you are describing. In order to know what is going on and therefore to take the best measures to treat it, it is important to get a pulmonary function test, both before and after a bronchodilator inhaler. This will immediately give the doctor a better idea as to what is happening or the need to perform other tests. I would highly recommend that this test be performed. If this is something that your family doctor can perform, that is a good first step. If your doctor recommends seeing a specialist for this, that could be another approach.
21 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
i AM A 24 YEAR OLD FEMALE AND HAVE BEEN HAVING THE SAME PROBLEM AS YOU. nOT BEING ABLE TO GET A GOOD DEEP BREATH. I CAN GET ONE, BUT SOMETIMES IT TAKES ME 4 DEEP BREATHS TO EVEN GET A GOOD ONE. IT WORRIED ME AND I TOO WAS A SMOKER SO I FIGURED IT WAS MY LUNGS. I MADE AN APPOINTMENT WITH A RESPIRATORY SPECIALIST AND THEY DID AN EKG, X-RAYS, AND A BREATHING TEST. ALL OF WHICH CAME BACK NORMAL.
THE DOCTOR TOLD ME THAT HE WAS CONCERNED B/C MY HEART RATE WAS 140 BPM AND THAT WAS HIGH EVEN FOR SOMEONE WHO WAS NERVOUS FOR BEING AT THE DOCTOR. HE SAID THAT I COULD HAVE SOMETHING WRONG WITH MY HEART. THAT SCARED ME TO DEATH B/C I'VE NEVER HAD ANY SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEMS. I WENT TO THE CARDIOLOGIST TODAY AND THEY DID AND ECHO ON ME.
I NEVER THOUGHT THAT HAVING TROUBLE BREATHING COULD BE A FORM OF HEART DISEASE. I'M NOT TRYING TO SCARE YOU, BUT I WOULD REALLY GO SEE A RESPIRATORY THERAPIST OR CARDIOLOGIST AND HAVE HIM DO AN EKG AND ECHO.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks Angel....You are the first person that can relate to these symptoms.  No-one else seems to know what I am experiencing.  What did your doctor find out about your heart?  I did have a routine EKG as part of an annual check-up but haven't been back to review the results yet.  It sure feels like everything is okay in that department though.  Were you out of breath or anything?  I will ask him about an Echo and the other tests the RN has suggested.  Thanks again for responding Angel.
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Avatar_n_tn
Well, I won't know the results of my echo until May 1. I'm scared to death. That's a long time to wait to find out if there is something wrong. I'm hoping that if there is something wrong w/myheart that the doc would call me ASAP. Anyways, I go in April 23 for a Metholcoline Challenge Test. This is a test they can do to determine if asthma is the cause. I'm hoping it is. Even though my lung x-rays came with no problems doesn't mean that I don't have asthma. You can have perfectly healthy lungs and still have asthma. This test will help determine that. Anyways, it's not that I get out of breath, it's just that sometimes I have trouble getting a really good deep breath. I can breath normal but if I want to take a really good deep breath it can be hard sometimes. It's like I take a deep breath but it still doesn't feel GOOD enough, so I keep taking one until I get one that actually feels good. It's weird!! Hard to explain. I have terrible sinuses and allergies and this all started when my sinuses started giving me alot of trouble. I just hope that they can find out what's causing me to have SOB and that it can be treated.
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Avatar_n_tn
Good luck on your test results.  I can sure relate to all of your descriptions about getting that deep breath.  I am the same way.  I would really be interested in knowing what the problem is behind these weird symptoms.  Do you want to keep in touch for awhile? Would love to know how you are doing down the road with this.  Maybe we could help each other somehow.  

My e-mail address:  ***@****
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Avatar_n_tn
I agree with everything the others said (you should get heart tests, lung function tests, etc.).

One thing that you said, made me think that you MIGHT have GASTRO-ESOPHAGEAL REFLUX, in addition to other problems. The thing that you said, was that your breathing problem GETS WORSE, when SITTING DOWN, LYING DOWN, OR WEARING CLOTHING THAT IS TIGHT AROUND THE WAIST.

Sitting, lying down, and wearing tight clothing (especially around the waist) all can "trigger" a gastric reflux "episode"!

One kind of GER (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux) is called LPR (Laryngeal-Pharyngeal Reflux). LPR can cause laryngospasms (also known as VCD/Vocal Cord Dysfunction).

Some people apparently first got their GER (or LPR) as a result of a viral infection.

Then, the "reflux" material (backs up out of the stomach, into the esophagus) can irritate the vocal cords, when the "reflux" gets up too high in the esophagus (or all the way to the throat/pharynx, or even to the voice box/larynx), resulting in spasms of the vocal cords, called laryngospasm/VCD--causing a choking sensation, or, feeling like not enough air is getting in.

And, I believe that GASTRIC REFLUX can cause bronchospasms also.

If you could go to National Jewish Hospital (NJH) in Denver, Colorado, you could get correctly diagnosed and treated! If you can't go there, call NJH's LUNG LINE, at 1-800-222-LUNG (5864), and speak with a LUNG LINE NURSE, to get some ideas and hopefully a referral to a knowledgable doc in your area, who did some studying at NJH.

Also, there is an interesting article by Milan R. Amin, M.D. and James A. Koufman, M.D., called "Vagal Neuropathy After Upper Respiratory Infection: A Viral Etiology?" that you might want to read. It is in the Americal Journal of Otolaryngology, Vol. 22, No. 4 (July-August), 2001: pages 251-256.

This article describes how a viral upper respiratory infection (URI) can cause damage to "various branches of the vagus nerve", and this nerve damage can manifest (show itself) as "vocal fold paresis (weakness/partial paralysis of one or both vocal cords), [&/or] LARYNGO-PHARYNGEAL REFLUX (LPR)..."

At National Jewish Hospital (where my husband and I were quickly and accurately diagnosed with VCD several years ago), they know how to differentiate between lung problems, vocal cord problems, etc.! And they are aware of the connections between stomach problems (like gastric reflux) and breathing problems (asthma & VCD)!

So, you might want to add a very expert ENT (ear, nose & throat) doc whose specialty is "throat", to your medical team!

I wish you the best!

I'm going to email you some SINUS TIPS that help my husband and me, and also some GER/LPR TIPS (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux/Laryngeal-Pharyngeal Reflux) tips. Please run all the "tips" by your doc to be sure they are OK for you to try.

If you want to compare notes about sinus problems, you can email me at ***@****

Sincerely, Concerned lady
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Avatar_n_tn
Hello again. Monster, have you decided to go see a doctor yet? I'm so tired of having trouble getting a good deep breath. I wish I could find out what's causing this ASAP. I have to agree with concerned lady about it could be vocal chord dysfunction. My respiratory specialist said the same thing to me. He was telling me that Vocal Chord Dysfunction can have the same symptoms as asthma making it harder to find.
Does your shortness of breath come and go, or is it there all the time? Mine bothers me 24/7 no matter what I'm doing. Although when I'm really relaxed it doesn't bother me as much.
I don't know that much about asthma, but for someone who has never had asthma tests taken, is it possible that a person can have shortness of breath 24/7?
Some people say that if you have asthma you are usually fine in between attacks, is that only when you have been taking medication? I'm like this 24/7 and am really worried.

if anyone can help my email address is angel_eyes28217***@****
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Angel_eyes,

I like your respiratory specialist! :-)

I'm going to email you some info about the VCD possibility, since both my husband and I have had up close & personal experience with VCD! (4 years ago for him, 2 years ago for me)

Now, we aren't having VCD attacks, because of 2 things:

1) the excellent EXPERT help (correct diagnosis and treatment) we both got (at different times) from expert docs, nurses, respiratory therapists, speech pathologists, etc., at National Jewish Hospital, in Denver, Colorado

2) the research we did after that, partly due to the wonderful help from National Jewish Hospital, and partly on our own, to discover and gently treat our SEVERAL underlying causes of our VCD (it's not catching, but there are lots of VCD causes)

We had to do some medical "detective" work, to figure out and then try to eliminate, treat, or lessen the several causes of our VCD, but that "work" led to us getting rid of the VCD attacks.

Each VCD patient is unique, and has his or her own set of VCD causes, triggers, aggravators, and associated (pre-disposing) conditions, which result in VCD attacks.

And people can have VCD along with other similar-appearing conditions!

Sincerely, Concerned lady
http://cantbreathesuspectvcd.com
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you so much. I've been reading up on heart disease for the past week, now I'm reading about asthma. I'm going to go to that website and check out VCD. The only symptom I have is shortness of breath. I'm hoping that whatever is causing this isn't serious. I go next week for a Methalcholine Challenge Test. Do you know what that is? I'm kinda clueless as to how it will affect me since I already have trouble breathing. From what I understand about it, it is an irritant that will cause you to have chest tightness and SOB. I already experience SOB and am kinda weary of taking this test. I don't want to not be able to breathe at all. Anyways, if you know anything about this please let me know.
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Angel Eyes,

When my husband and I went to National Jewish Hospital (NJH), we didn't need to take that test, because we were already having breathing problems when we went to NJH.

So hopefully someone else can answer your question. And, you can speak by telephone to a LUNG LINE NURSE, who can also answer your question, by calling 1-800-222-LUNG (5864)! The LUNG LINE is part of NJH! :-)

Thanks for reading my VCD website, where you'll find many links, including LINKS to National Jewish Hospital's large and very helpful website!

What area are you in? Ask the LUNG LINE nurse for names of docs IN YOUR AREA, who did some work at NJH, and who know a lot about VCD, asthma, etc. If you can go to NJH, that would be the best thing to do!

It's also good that you're learning about the heart, asthma, etc, just in case.

Actually, if it turns out to be VCD (at least), you may not (ask the doc!) need medications to treat the VCD, because the immediate treatment for VCD is usually special SPEECH THERAPY exercises:

--like exhaling the whispered "f f f f f", like blowing out a candle, against a tiny bit of resistance), while also doing ABDOMINAL BREATHING (where the belly moves IN while you're breathing out the "f f f f f", and then, the belly moves OUT, to create an easy inhalation.

A good Speech Pathologist modifies the speech therapy methods to apply to each individual patient's situation.

At National Jewish Hospital, they know about the several treatments for VCD (which I mention in my website, too), and they choose the MOST EFFECTIVE treatments for each INDIVIDUAL patient!

Good luck to you.

Sincerely, Concerned lady
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Avatar_n_tn
Well, when I went to the respiratory specialist they ran tests such as chest x-rays, EKG, and a nreathing test. All of them came back normal. Now if I had VCD would they be able to detect it on the breathing test? I have no problems w/shallow breathing, just sometimes trying to get a good deep breath. I feel as though I already have breathing problems even though I was told my breathing was normal, but they're still giving me that test. I'm getting really nervous about going back and getting the results for the Echo.
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Angel_Eyes,

I have 3 questions for you:

1) Can you go to National Jewish Hospital in Denver, Colorado? You would GET ANSWERS to all your questions, if you could do this.

2) Have you called the LUNG LINE nurses yet? They are at 1-800-222-LUNG (5864), and will be there for another 15 minutes today. You can call on Mon. if you can't call today.

3) What area are you in?

Sincerely, Concerned lady
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Angel-Eyes,

If you are having a VCD attack, then a breathing test (lung function testing) would show lack of air getting in (or getting out, in some cases of VCD). This test can suggest that there is some kind of upper airway obstruction, that can be from vocal cords going into a spasm &/or other causes.

But, if you are not having a VCD attack, the breathing test might come out "normal" for VCD!

The methacholine challenge test can sometimes "create" a VCD attack, when a patient isn't having one:

The usual "gold standard" of diagnosis for VCD, is to have a LARYNGOSCOPY done DURING A VCD ATTACK. The doc (or other expert) would gently put the narrow, flexible, laryngoscope tube with camera & light, through one nostril, and gently pass the laryngoscope tube down to right above the vocal cords.

If your vocal cords are not moving "correctly", and are closing when they should be staying open, the doc could see this, and get an idea perhaps, of why this is happening.

There can be MANY possible causes of VCD (each patient is unique), and it may take an EXPERT team (like they have at National Jewish Hospital!)to figure out everything that is going on with you.

Once you get properly diagnosed, with whatever you have, you will have treatment choices! Keep us posted, and good luck.

I again want to recommend the top experts, National Jewish Hospital (NJH), from my husband's and my own experiences of getting wonderful help from them. NJH knows more about VCD, and other respiratory problems than any other medical places I know. They also know about sleep apnea, communicable diseases, auto-immune diseases, etc. (in addition to VCD, asthma, etc.)

We are lucky to have NJH! Angel-Eyes, call their LUNG LINE nurses! I think you'll be glad, if you do!

Sincerely, Concerned lady

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Avatar_n_tn
Well, I went today for my Methacholine Challenge Test. They went over the process w/me and told me the worst case scenerio that could happen is that my lung functions shut down completely and then they would have to give me a shot to get me breathing again. That scared me to the point where I just wanted to leave, but I stuck it out. She also said that if my lung functions dropped 20% or more that the test would be discontinued and I would be given a bronchodilator to get my functions back to normal. She was saying that I will take 6 breathing tests in which I inhale the methacholine.
First they had me put a clamp over my nose and put my mouth on a tube and do the breathing exercises they showed me to do. I did about 4 sets of them before they did a practice round of a diluted version of Methacholine. When I inhaled the diluted version I waited 2 minutes for it to take affect and then I did the breathing process over again.
After that I rested for a minute and then they gave me my first inhalation of Methacholine. I had to wait 2 minutes and then I did the breathing exercises again. Once I finished that one I waited a minute and they gave me more Methacholine. I did the breathing tests and then after that they made me stop b/c my functions FEV1 dropped more than 20%. The assistant said that if you had a drop in functins of 20% or more they would discontinue the test and give you a bronchodialator to inhale to get everything back to normal. I inhaled that for 10 minutes, then waited another 20 minutes before they did the last breathing exercise to see if my functions were back up.
Since they had to stop the testing by my 3rd round I assume that I tested positive. I won't know the results until next Wednesday. I have a strong feeling that it is a slight case of asthma. I'm praying that's all it is. I'll keep you posted.
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Avatar_n_tn
Well, I went today to see the doc and get the results on my echocardiogram and Methacholine Challenge. He said my heart is perfectly normal and that it's deffinite that I have asthma. He said I have the kind that you aren't aware you have. He's starting me off on 3 inhalers and some pills. In 6 weeks I go back and he'l take me off 2 inhalers and just keep me on 1 and the pills. This is really good news for me considering what it might have been. Just wanted to keep you posted.
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Angel Eyes,

You might want to research the Buteyko breathing methods that help some asthma patients.

Good luck with the asthma!

Concerned lady
http://cantbreathesuspectvcd.com
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Avatar_m_tn
Are these postings for real?  I have some real concerns about my breathing, and I have emailed angel eyes and monster both asking for their help and nobody bothers to answer.  I really didn't want to make my problem public as I'm a private person by nature and simply wanted someone who has the same symptoms to hopefully help and give me some ideas, but it appears as if when someone takes care of their own problems, their interest in everybody else and willingness to help disappear.  I'll go elsewhere.
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm sorry, but the email you mailed to me went to my hotmail. I hardly ever check it, but I will do that right now. I'll email you.
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Avatar_n_tn
i just checked my email and have not received an email from you. Here is my address angel_eyes28217***@****
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Avatar_n_tn
To Concerned Lady - I've been reading so many of your comments about VCD and I've read your website and that of Jewish Hospital.  Can you tell me what exercises you did for your VCD that helped you get rid of it?  I've read some of the others and they're just breathing exercises.  Are there others that you can share?  Alot of your comments and those by some others simply say to go to Denver, but when you live on the other side of the country, that's a little difficult.  And going to a doctor for this is not something I really want to do (I personally don't want to have someone looking at my vocal cords, very scared about that whole test and prefer not to do it).  And really, I don't see the sense in going to a doctor if there's no medication to take and it's simply breathing exercises that I could try.  If they don't help, I haven't hurt anything.  Thanks.
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear CCTalks,

The reason a laryngoscopy is useful, is that the doctor doing it (pulmonologist/lung doc, or ENT/ear, nose & throat doc, or the allergist, etc.) or speech pathologist doing this test, can SEE what's going on with the vocal cords, and surrounding area.

I understand your fear of this test, but if an expert doc does it, it's not as bad as you might think.

There can be MANY causes of "upper airway" problems, and VCD is one of these MANY conditions! The laryngoscopy helps the doc, etc. to determine WHICH CONDITION(S) you may have, that are causing your problems!

For example, what if you had something ELSE, not VCD? The laryngoscopy could help the doc to see what ELSE might be causing your symptoms. Then, you would have treatment choices.

VCD usually doesn't happen "out of the blue". There are usually PRE-DISPOSING/ASSOCIATED CONDITIONS leading to getting VCD, and if you DO have VCD, you need to find out what these CAUSES, TRIGGERS, AGGRAVATORS, and ASSOCIATED/PRE-DISPOSING CONDITIONS are, in your particular case.

Every VCD patient is unique. And each VCD patient may have SEVERAL things going on at the same time.

Read page 4 of my website, about various treatment options, including the Speech Therapy & Abdominal Breathing, that can be taught to you by a knowledgable Speech Pathologist.

If these speech & breathing techniques don't completely "cure" the VCD, you would need to find/figure out, all your VCD causes, and then work to eliminate, lessen, or treat all of these causes, in order to "cure" the VCD. (See pages 5 & 3)

If you email me at ***@****, and tell me what area you are in, I would be happy to tell you if I know of any VCD specialists in your area. Also ask the LUNG LINE nurse to give you names, phone numbers, etc. of docs in YOUR area, who trained at Nat'l Jewish Hospital, and who are very knowledgable about VCD.

Such docs would be the best ones to do a careful, clean, and gentle laryngoscopy, if you choose to ever have it done. My husband and I had this procedure done at Nat'l Jewish Hospital (the EXPERTS at VCD!), and we had no complications at all from it! It wasn't "pleasant", but we survived it, and it wasn't as bad as we worried it might be!

Email me, and I will be happy to discuss my husband's and my experiences with VCD/Vocal Cord Dysfunction, and the speech therapy, that we learned at Nat'l Jewish Hospital, and the other things we did (SINUS TIPS & GASTRIC REFLUX TIPS, etc.)that helped us to stop having the VCD attacks ("knock wood!").

Sincerely, Concerned lady
http://cantbreathesuspectvcd.com
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