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Avatar universal

Heart Palpitaions and Chronic Urticaria

Hi, my name is Josiah.  I am a 22 year old male.  For the last two and a half months or so I have been experiencing constant tachycardia.  It's so bad that I can't do anything physically stressful at all without my heart beating out of my chest.  That is my main problem.  It's keeping me from working which is really screwing up my life.  I have also been suffering form urticaria for about a year now.  To reduce confusion, I'm just going to start from the beginning.  I preemptively apologize for the length of this post, but I feel that I need to include all the details.  You may want to read the symptoms listed at the bottom first.

In January, 09 I was forced to move back in with my parents due to financial constraints.  I was living and going to college in Portland (OR) for two years prior to moving back home.  After about a week and a half or so of living back home, I noticed a welt on the corner of the inside of my mouth one day.  This was very strange because I had only had one instance of hives in my life.  I was eight and for some reason (likely allergy related) I completely broke out in hives which lasted about two days.  After they went away, I never had another welt that I knew of until a year ago.
    So back to 09.  After the first welt I began having welts every single day.  They progressively got worse and after about three weeks or so I finally decided to go to the doctor.  He took some blood and prescribed me some Claritin and Zantac to control the hives.  When the blood results came back they didn't show anything very remarkable.  He said that I had minor food allergies to corn, wheat and shrimp.  I had never had any sort of noticeable allergic reaction to these food before and when I eat them now, they don't cause any sort of difference with the hives.
     A month or two passed and I was taking the Zantac and Claritin every day.  It seemed to be lessening the amount of welts, but not actually eradicating them.  It got to the point where they were manageable.  One night I had a bad headache from eye strain (I am a chronic gamer) and I took some Ibuprofen, a medication that I took very often before the welts started.  Within an hour or so I had a dramatic reaction to the medicine.  I got these giant welts on my face and body, the likes of which I had never seen before.  It scared me because I thought my throat could potentially close.  Luckily my throat never felt like it was swelling at all.  Before then the welts were small and the only inconvenience about them were that they were embarrassing.  They didn't itch or hurt.  However, the big ones caused by the Ibuprofen were itchy and very uncomfortable.
     The following day I went back to the doctor and explained to him that I'd had a flare up.  At the time I didn't realize that it was the Ibuprofen, it was fairly recently that I learned that it would cause a reaction.  The doctor put me on Prednisone and Doxepin in an attempt to "restart my system."  The Prednisone completely killed the welts.  I was only supposed to take it for a week though and guess what happened when I stopped taking it.  The Doxepin did nothing to help.  The doctor recommended that I see an allergist, but that part of the story comes later.
      So months passed and my body got to the point where the Claritin and Zantac would virtually stop the welts for about four hours after taking them.  When I was knew I was going out or something I would take the pills and be alright for a while.  By now I was accepting the fact that I may have to endure the hives for possibly a very long time.
      Then in september (this is when things start getting weird) I was doing nothing out of the ordinary and I started to feel this abnormal pressure on my left inner thigh.  It was right on that big vein in the thigh, I don't know what it's called.  It started in the afternoon and by the evening, it became very profound.  It was throbbing very hard and my whole leg was tingling.  I had never felt anything like this in my entire life and it was making me very uneasy.  I went to bed and tried to fall asleep, but every time that i almost dozed off I would wake up with my heart racing and feeling very disoriented.  I tried a few more times, but each time it was worse and got to the point where I was shaking uncontrollably.
       So finally I got out of bed and tried to walk around the house a bit and gather myself, but I kept feeling worse and worse.  I felt like I couldn't get a full breath of air.  My mom convinced my to go to the ER just to be on the safe side so we did.  The ER is about 25 min from my house and the car ride gave me plenty of time to dwell on my leg and all the horrible things that could be wrong with me.  By the time we got there I was hyperventilating severely, to the point where my fingers were curled up and I couldn't move them.  They had to put me in a wheel chair to get me in the ER.
        Basically the ER doctor checked me out, told me that there was nothing to worry about and that I needed to go home and rest.  He was a bit rude with me because he figured I was overreacting and was misusing the ER.  I didn't realize this until later.  I went home with some peace of mind that they couldn't find any problems and was able to get to sleep.
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Avatar universal
         On a bit of a side note, I am a singer/guitar player in a band.  I share lead singing duties with another member.  With the type of music I play, I often have to really belt out the notes which requires a great deal of exertion on the part of my lungs.  At the time of the leg pressure episode, I was noticing that it was becoming very taxing on me to force those notes out, much more than ever before.  I didn't see any reason for this to be happening other than I was getting out of shape so I began exercising on my treadmill to increase my lung capacity.
          The day after the night at the ER I went back to my doctor and explained to him everything that had happened.  Ultimately, he told me to give it a little time and see if it goes away.  He also suggested I get an MRI to be safe and possibly see a neurologist.
          So I gave it some time and it did seem to go away for the most part.  Some nights I would feel it in my leg a little, but it wasn't nearly as bad as before.  Also, after some weeks passed I noticed a similar feeling of pressure/tingling in my left arm.
          Months passed.  I saw my doctor a couple of times in this span of time, but he didn't really have anything noteworthy to say about it.  Also, it was becoming much more difficult for me to sing on stage as time went on.  When I was singing the hard parts, it would knock me for such a loop that I wasn't sure if I was going to pass out on stage sometimes.
           At around February 20th or so I came home and went to bed like any other night.  For some reason, though I could not fall and stay asleep.  My heart was beating really hard and every time I fell asleep I woke back up immediately with my heart beating like mad and an extreme feeling of disorder.  I tried for hours to go to sleep with no avail.  It was somewhat similar to the way I was feeling back in September.  I went the entire night without sleeping because of it.
            I saw the doctor the next day and told him that my heart was beating very hard and it was keeping me from sleeping.  He listened to my heart and did an EKG.  Everything was normal.  Later that day the leg pressure came back just as bad if not worse than the first time.  That, coupled with the heartbeats made me start to panic a bit.  After a while I began hyperventilating and tried the ol' paper bag technique to combat it.  Again, my mom convinced me to go to the ER.  My sister lives a quarter mile from the hospital and I decided to stop there and try to relax in hopes of avoiding a trip to the ER (my sis is a nurse.)  I was having an almost full blown panic attack by the time I got there, but I was able to calm down after awhile and the panic symptoms went away.  The leg pressure and heavy heartbeats did not.
            A week passed and all the while I continued to have heavy heartbeats that made it difficult to do much.  My band had a show at a bar and I bit the bullet and went through with it.  Typically my band starts our set with me playing bass, then half way through I switch instruments with the other guitar player.  For the first half I was feeling very light headed and my heart was racing pretty much the whole time.  When we switched instruments, I knelt down to pick up my instrument cable to plug my guitar in and when I stood back up I experienced an extreme head rush with very heavy heartbeats.  My heart was beating so hard that I seriously was not sure that I wasn't going to have a heart attack.  Somehow I managed to collect myself and finish the set.
            After that, the symptoms I had became worse and I started to have new ones.  I started to have a constant nausea, unable to eat anything without feeling horrible.  Eating a big meal would cause my heartbeats to be more heavy and fast.  I felt an odd swelling in my neck (not throat), down near the collar bone.  Also, I was always dizzy.  Not a light headed dizzy, more of an altered perception dizziness if that makes any sense.  My heart was so sensitive to physical activity that I couldn't do anything without feeling like it was going to explode.
            I saw my doctor again as these symptoms were changing.  He called them "bizarre."  He said that it sounded like it may be a hormone imbalance and ordered a series of blood tests, a stool test and a 24 hour urinalysis.  Every single one of these tests came back completely normal.  All of my vitamin/mineral levels were nominal.  I think he though it was hyper/hypothyroidism at the time, but my levels were normal.  I finally went and had the MRI done.  Normal.
            During this period of time, I was not eating or sleeping much.  Every time I ate it made me feel horrible so I was avoiding meals.  Not a good idea of course.  The heavy heart beats were keeping me form getting full a nights sleep every day.  There were a couple of times where I went more than two days without any sleep.  Plus, all of this was very taxing on me emotionally.  The fact that I was feeling so horrible and my doctor was pretty much clueless as to the source was really depressing me.
             I began to get what I have been calling 'mutant welts' at this time.  When I wake up in the morning, I usually have giant, bulging welts on my arms that are painful.  Not all of the welts are like this.  The mutants usually start to fade within two hours of waking up.  They are only present in the morning after waking up and I have never seen them appear before my eyes like the other ones.
             About two weeks after the show at the bar, I had fallen asleep one night.  After an hour or so of sleep, I woke up with the extremely heavy heartbeats, shortness of breath and I was shaking almost violently.  Once again I went to the ER.  The ER doctor there (different one this time) was much more compassionate and actually seemed to give a crap about me.  She ran a bunch of tests and an EKG.  All normal.  She couldn't see anything wrong and sent me home.
              A few days later I went to my doctor again.  He told me that he thinks that my symptoms are stress/panic related and suggested that I try Paxil.  I was very reluctant to try it, but I gave it a shot.  When I took it, it made me extremely dizzy.  I felt like I was a foot taller when I looked down because the medicine was altering my perception so much.  I told the doctor of this and he recommended a smaller dose.  I tried the smaller dose the next day, but it still messed me up, though not quite as bad.  It was causing me to lose even more sleep so I decided not to take the Paxil anymore.
               I normally weigh somewhere between 148 and 152 lbs.  I was down to about 138 by the time I started the Paxil.  I decided then that I would force myself to eat regularly no matter how sick it made me because I was getting sickly thin.
Avatar universal
               Two weeks later my doctor ordered a CT scan and an upper GI test (because I requested them.)  At the time I thought a 'hiatal hernial' could be causing problems because of possible stimulation of the vagus nerve.  Those tests came back normal.  I had to drink a bunch of barium for the upper GI.  The tech told me that I might cause some constipation/sluggishness.  The evening of the day of the upper GI I started to feel a discomfort in my side just below my ribcage on the right side.  As the night went on it got worse and worse.  By the time 8 pm came around it was almost excruciating.  I had to hunch over when I stood and could only ease the pain by sitting in a specific way.  It lasted all night.  By the time I woke up it had subsided for the most part, but since then I get occasional sharp pains in that same spot.  I realize that the pain could just be from the barium building up and causing discomfort.
                A few days ago I tried to work, but I was so easily fatigued that I couldn't do more than about ten minutes of work without seeing spots and having my heart beat out of my chest.  Also, I felt pains in the left side of my chest around my breast.  Later that night I had two or three very painful heartbeats that came and went very quickly.

That is where I am now.

here are my current symptoms

-Heart palpitations, heavy/fast heartbeat.  My heart always feels like it's working too hard.  The slightest activity causes it to beat very hard and fast which makes me feel physically horrible.

-Nausea/difficulty with eating.  Anytime that I eat to the point of being full I feel awful.  My heart beats even harder, I feel like I'm going to throw up.  The nausea is not as bad if I eat small amounts.

-Shortness of breath.

-Dizziness.  Not necessarily lightheaded, it just feels like my ocular perception is off.

-Weight loss.  Despite the fact that I have been forcing myself to east, I'm still progressively losing weight.  I'm down to a 133 lbs and am wasting away.  

-Warm feeling in the left side of my face.  This one is kind of weird.  Most days I get a strange warm feeling in my head at my hairline on the left side.  No tingling, just warmth.

-Pressure in left inner thigh.  Most often in the evening, I feel a pressure in my left thigh right on the big vein.  In the last couple of weeks it's actually become a little painful.  It's usually condensed to a quater sized area and sometimes makes my whole leg tingle.

-Urticaria.  It's always there.  I've tried changing my diet around, but nothing seems to slow it down except the Claritin and Zantac.  There are a few things that I know will cause a reaction.  Tylenol will cause a moderate reaction.  Ibuprofen will cause and extreme reaction, my whole face will pretty much become a giant welt.  Caffeine will cause a moderate reaction.  I think that milk causes a reaction, but I am not positive.

My thoughts on everything:

First I want to make it clear that I am nearly positive that anxiety/panic is NOT the root of my problems.  I will admit that I was scared when this stuff started happening to me and I did have a few panic attacks.  But those were certainly caused by my other problems, mainly the tachycardia.  Seriously I am one of the most laid back guys you would ever meet and in the last four weeks or so I have accepted the fact that my symptoms aren't going to kill me.  The way I have written this makes me sound like a nervous wreck, but I promise that I'm calm about it all most of the time.
   I think that everything is tied together.  I think that the welts were the first sign, the leg pressure and difficulty singing were the next signs.  Then the onslaught of symptoms over the last two and a half months means it's getting worse.  The doctors I've seen don't seem to believe this, but it makes sense to me.
    Why would I suddenly be allergic to stuff I've eaten/taken my whole life?  I realize that allergies can develop out of nowhere, but it just seems too coincidental to me.  I have two theories as to why this is happening to me.  Bear in mind that I am not a doctor at all, but I have been doing a ton of research and have been approaching my conclusions from a logical,  point of view.
    The first theory is that it is a parasite.  Maybe Giardia or H Pylori.  The weight loss and gastrointestinal problems may support this.  Also during the summer my friends and I go swimming in a river near my house.  I am a much worse swimmer that them and I tend to swallow a lot of water when I'm thrashing about.  Could a parasite like that get into my bloodstream and possibly affect my heart?
    My other theory is that it's my gall bladder.  I don't have much to base that on other than the pain I've been feeling in my side.
    The doctor referred me to and allergist at OHSU (Oregon's big fancy medical university) and my appointment is in one week.  I am praying that they will solve my problem, but I'm afraid that they might write it off as simply allergies or anxiety.  That is why I am posting here.

That's pretty much all there is to it.  I'm sorry for making you read so much, but honestly I'm getting very desperate for some help.  Whatever this is, if I can't get past it it's going to screw my life up even worse.  I'm planning on moving out and going back to college in the fall, but I can't do it if I can't work and save some money.  Even if someone can point me in the right direction as far as tests and stuff it would help me so much.

thank you

Avatar universal
My eyes are a little blurry this morning but I tried to read your post.  I have been batttling hives since february 09 and maybe longer but really remember the itchiness of my hands since then.  Anyway,mine is not has bad as yours but I thought I would mention that during all of this I started getting heartburn and as a result took OTC storebrand of Pepcid AC. I guess you know that you have histamines in your stomach and that drugs like Pepcid are also antihistamines.  Anyway, in October 09 I figured out that all the antihistamines I was taking was not really helping my hives but making them worse.  Of course, I cannot take NSAIDs either they make me swell.  If I take any antihistamine except for Benadryl I get really bad hives.  Some of the worse hives I get is when I take Pepcid.  It took me a year to put all of this together and that is without the help of any doctors.  All the doctors tell me is take antihistamines and now that I cannot do that well I do not think they want to deal with me.  Also, be careful about taking any parasite meds.  I thought that too and so did my allergist.  He gave me Mebendazole to take and my joints started hurting and swelling while I took that.  Just be aware with hives anything can happen.  Also, the fact that you have a racing heart cannot be good because the doctors told me anything that increased my heart rate and blood flow can make the hives worse.  That is why Tylenol is now the only thing I can take for pain.  I am getting tested next week to see how I will react to the stuff that the dentist numbs my mouth with for fillings.  He wanted to make sure I did not have any bad reactions.  Hope you get some answers soon.  
Avatar universal
Thank you for your concern.  I will be wary of the parasite medicine.
535822 tn?1443980380
I also think that meds can cause palpitations and anxiety , what are you taking at this moment also sometimes differant meds do not mix your druggist will tell you if they are compatible .
Avatar universal
Actually I'm not really taking anything right now.  Since the heart issues started, I have quit taking all drugs for the most part.  Every once in a while I will take 1 claritin and 1 zantac together but only if I am having a bad hive breakout.  Usually once every few weeks if that.
Avatar universal
Oh my, I'm praying even though this is a while after your post that you see this/found a cure. I have been experiencing a very similar thing, apart from the leg and side pain. It began with just having itchy legs but then it cpread to all over my body with insane itching, it then turned into them welts  and they come up all the time not neccesarily due to itchying and I am covered in them. I also had problems with my throat which felt like heartburn but it wasn't heartburn. I also get really bad head pains- not like headaches because I suffer from migraines this is very different. And the hart palpitations are the worst, I can feel them in my head (its as if I can feel my brain contracting) and when I lie down, you can also see my chest pumping out. I also get this tingling feeling in my arm. Please tell me they found a cause?
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