Can't Breath when Lying Down - Acute Dysnea/Orthopnea
48 year old, white male, never smoke, drink alcohol infrequently, no illegal drugs for 25 years. Had a carcinoid tumor in my chest removed about 4 years ago, along with part of my left lung and had to severe the left phrenic nerve during the surgery, as the tumor was wrapped around it. Had subsequent chemo and radiation treeatment. Learned to live with only one (right) lung working well, although still get a little air movement through the left side.
6 months ago helping move some furniture felt extremely fatigued and short of breath. Went to lie down and started immediately gasping - could not breath at all while lieing down - rapid, but very shallow breathing. Was able to breath ok when standing, with increasingly worse symptoms as I got more horizontal. Went to ER and they ran many tests, admitted me for a week but found nothing, concentrating mostly on cardiac issues - turns out my heart is in pretty good shape. Symptoms improved over the course of a week where I was able to lie down after about 5 days. never found cause of this orthopnea.
Last weekend, exact same symptoms - this time I woke up in the middle of the night with a muscle "pinch" in my right shoulder. Went to bathroom, and upon getting back in bed discovered again, I could not get any air in - rapid, shallow breaths. very scary, Didn't go to ER again, as exact same symptoms as 6 months ago and again I was able to breath normally when standing. Over next 4-5 days, symptoms disappeared. This time had MRI done of cervical spine, CT done of neck area, seevral blood tests, but again, nothing found.
I'm running out of ideas - I have several doctors stumped. Anybody out there have any thoughts on this?
Maybe you should ask your doctor for a sleep study where technicians monitor you closely for apneic events, low oxygen levels, degree of restlessness, if you are snoring etc.
Another thing, maybe you are refluxing. It might be worth looking into especially if the doc has looked into everything else.
Meanwhile, try sleeping with your head elevated and see how that works for you. Because you already have lost the function of one side of your diaphragm, you might be more likely to feel more short of breath lying flat. Elevating your head will help with this.
I hope you get answers soon,
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