I can't hold my breath for longer than a few seconds
I am 35, male, 60 pounds overweight (but I workout very hard regularly without problems). I have also had a stress echo and chest xray. I do have a history of PVC's. My oxygen levels, including my arterial blood gas test, was normal. My problem is that anytime I try to hold my breath at all, it feels like the "primal instinct" to breath takes over very powerfully almost instantly and I can't stop it...if I resist, I will get very lightheaded. I knew about this problem before, but I was having a CT scan to evaluate my hematuria and I couldn't hold my breath long enough. Can you tell me what this could be? It gets better and worse at differnt times, but again, I can always workout hard without an issue.
The normal arterial blood gases, stress ECHO and Chest X-ray are very re-assuring and rule out a large number of potential causes of your problem. That you so quickly get light-headed suggests that with the holding of breath, you may unconsciously be also be putting pressure on the internal organs of your chest (called a Valsalva Maneuver). When a person does this, the pressure can immediately reduce the return of blood, normally flowing back to the heart. It might also be revealing to have an EKG or, at least, someone taking your pulse before and at the moment that you begin to hold your breath.
I suggest that you discuss the preceding with your doctor, who can then observe you and any other actions you may be taking at the moment of breath-holding.
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