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Feeling of suffocation
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Feeling of suffocation

Hi,

I'm a 23 year old male. For the last 3 years, I've been constantly feeling like I'm suffocating. It's hard to describe the feeling, and it sounds pretty horrible, but I'm trying to lead a normal life. Obviously I've been to the doctor, they did chest x-ray and blood tests and I've been back for regular checkups. According to the tests, everything is fine with me. I have other symptoms that are characteristic of anxiety, and this was the diagnosis that was given to me.
Sometimes the suffocation feeling is mild and almost unnoticeable, sometimes it's very strong -- all of today I've been feeling like it, and part of yesterday. Does anyone have any idea what could be causing this? It's starting to drive me crazy. I can feel like I'm suffocating even if I'm not feeling anxious, I can be in a good mood, out with friends, or whatever, and it's still there. It happened suddenly one night 3 years ago and since then it's never fully gone away.
The days that I feel very strongly like I'm suffocating, I notice my nose whistles sometimes. It takes a while for the feeling to go away; usually by the time I go to bed, the next day I wake up ok.
I'd really appreciate any help, I can't keep living with this, and the doctors say I'm fine, but I haven't had anything but blood work and a chest x ray.

Thank you
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9 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_n_tn
I have the exact same problem. I am still in the process of trying figure otu exactly what is causing this. I have had this issue for about 2 weeks now but I have had it before but it went away on its own. So far I have tried inhalers for asthma without much relief. Today I was prescribed medication for Acid reflux, so we'll see... Good luck! It is hard to even get doctors to take this seriously. Hope this helps. I'll keep checking back.
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144586_tn?1284669764
Have you been to a pulmonary specialist or a pulmonary team at a teaching hospital? The x-ray wouldn't show much. I don't know what is wrong with you, but someone should be paying more attention.
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Avatar_n_tn
First off, I hope you are feeling some relief from your awful symptoms.  I hope you are continuing to see your doctors until you find some answers!  For the past year I have been experiecing a heaviness in my stomach/chest/sometimes throat and it makes me feel like I'm mildly suffocating on a constant basis - it's horrible.  Like you, certain days are better than others.  I do know that when I am standing and esp. when I'm still, I feel worse.  It's like suddenly my breathing feels so heavy and I get lightheaded.  All this sounds horrific, but I am actually functioning on a somewhat normal basis everyday - except that I don't feel that great.  I have been searching for the cause of all of this.  I had a chest x ray and it was clear.  I thought it was a gastrointestinal issue (like a hernia of some sort)  but an endoscopy showed only mild gastritis (inflammation of the stomach).  So now I'm thinking it may have something to do with my blood pressure (orthostatic intolerance) or plain anxiety.  But like you, I feel it even when I'm not anxious ... and if anything this whole breathing thing is making me anxious not the other way around!

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Avatar_m_tn
Hi!

It's been a long time since you made your post. I've just wanted to say that I cope with the very same problem as you are. I have those symptoms (constant feeling like I'm suffocating - same days less and some days worse). I've also been to many doctors and did many tests (heart, lungs, blood tests and so on) but, as my doctor says, everything is O.K. with me. A went to psychistrist for some time and she gave me some drugs (she said i had anxiety problem) but it didn't help me much.I really don't know how to help myself.

How is your problem now? Is it  better, is it worse?
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Avatar_n_tn
i've had it for so long that i've kind of learned to ignore it. sometimes it's actually better.. glad to know i'm not alone though. maybe it is anxiety.
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Avatar_m_tn
Any  good news?
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Avatar_f_tn
I had this too.  I have atypical asthma where I don't wheeze.  The asthma affects primarily the smallest airways in my lungs.  It became chronic because my doctors didn't understand it or have me on the right medication, in spite of being diagnosed 15 years ago.  Eventually I developed chronic shortness of breath and a feeling of suffocation.  After a lot of testing they found that it had affected my heart.
Bottom line -- it is not normal to have this feeling.  You should have a spirometry or pulmonary function test to rule out lung disease, and a cardio workup.  Don't let anyone tell you it is psychological until they have done thorough testing.   Once they figure out the underlying disease there are medications that help.   Also, if the disease is advanced or severe there are palliative medications.  Ativan or other benzodiazepines can help with anxiety from difficulty breathing, and codeine suppresses the feeling of suffocation.
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Avatar_m_tn
have you had a PFT test?  my FEV1 levels are in the 60s usually in the low 70s and the FEV1/FVC ratio may show airway remodeling.  
I just don't feel comfortable with my FEV1 being so low.
I've tried almost every inhaler and nebulizer treatment but am still wheezing for 11 weeks now.  finally after another course of prednisone at 40mg/day I had improvement in my FEV1 to 82 but I still suffer from terrible sleep apnea

how do you know if you need regular prednisone or is that a bad idea.  the only side effects I've read about are bone loss, sugar, adrenal atrophy?
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Avatar_m_tn
hi how are you now? I was reading this thread and your comment caught my attention. If i understood you right, initially you have an anxiety and later it already affected your heart?  right now i am sure that i have anxiety and sometimes i feel like my heart beat is irregular and i will feel suffocating right after i realized it..

i just want to know what happened to you now? I am afraid that later on i will really have a real heart disease because of anxiety
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