Avatar universal

Shortness of Breath and Anxiety

Hi everyone,

I've been feeling shortness of breath for a while now, ever since my first panic attack in February. I've had anxiety attacks with relative frequency since then, but I've had a nagging feeling of being short of breath at different times during the day.

I've visited my doctor who checked me and found that my heart sounded healthy and my lungs are clear (save for my history of asthma), though she noted I am overweight by approximately 17-20 pounds (adding to my apnea) and I had developed nasal polyps (large enough that breathing through my nose is very difficult. I was prescribed budesonide and montelukast for asthma maintenance, mometasone for my polyps, and ventolin for emergency.

My blood tests came out relatively normal except for mild elevation (less than 2x amount from normal range) in SGPT, Uric Acid, and CKMM. The doctor told me not to worry but my anxiety may multiply my symptoms.

That leads me to where I am now. I've been doing well enough lately but I've just been so anxious about this feeling of shortness of breath and tightness in my throat. This usually happens when it is very hot or humid, though it doesn't matter what activity I am doing, I still feel it. The only exception is when I am out every morning for a light run (usually approximately 3 miles per day). While I am warming up and walking around my neighborhood, occasionally I feel my asthma acting up but when I run my breathing feels better regulated (and continues for a few hours afterward), though I do get acidic while running and feel a sharp pain in the upper left section of my back. Naturally, this makes me anxious.

I've had 3-4 anxiety attacks per week since then of varying intensity, this feeling of shortness of breath is causing me more anxiety. I don't know if I am hyperventilating or if my breathing is irregular, either way the sensation is unnerving. No matter what my doctor says, in my moments of intense panic or anxiety, I am convinced she hasn't diagnosed me properly.

It's eating up all the hours of my day just looking up what these aches and pains can be.

I don't know what else to do.

Please help.
3 Responses
Avatar universal
I too am very short of breath.  I have been tested for my heart and my lungs like you.  I have another appointment today with a hematologist.  I honestly think it is anxiety. I feel as though i cannot get enough air in my lungs.  Some  folks on here have told me to try to distract myself. Like you said, you dont feel it when you run.  If it were a medical issue like heart or lungs you would think you would feel it MORE when running. (I am not a doctor though, its good to get things medically checked like you are)   I am trying to take control of my thoughts and not dwell on it.  The more I dwell and worry, the  shorter of breath I am.  Try to think of other things and keep busy.  I know it is easier said than done but it seems to help me.  Hang in there.  This too shall pass!
Thank you for that. It's nice to know I'm not the only one experiencing this. Yes, I agree, distractions help, but I guess its the moments in between that are most agonizing.

Every ache and pinprick I feel makes my mind race, thinking its a symptom of some terrible disease. I am trying to find ways to just relax, but it feels like there is no hope for getting over this anytime soon.
Ever tried therapy so you can learn how to stop thinking like this?  You don't feel it when you're running because you're preoccupied and because running and other exercise causes the body to release chemicals that make us feel good.  You say it makes you have acid, though, which you don't explain -- if you mean you get heartburn or something like that it could be because you're running too soon after eating.  It could be what you're eating.  But basically, you're got anxiety and need to learn not to think like that.
Hi Paxiled,

Sorry for not specifying, I mean that when I run, occasionally I experience acid reflux and heartburn, though I do experience this regularly anyway. That said, it is almost a certainty if I run.

I'm considering therapy, though I'm not sure of where the best place is to look. The next time I am in the U.S. will be in June, but I will be in Canada for the next few months starting August until probably January. In any case, I think it would be best for me to try wherever I may be. Most times I try to just shake it off or exert myself so I keep busy.

It doesn't really even help that I developed bad posture due to office work so naturally I can feel short of breath just by slouching, but I am working towards better health because since losing weight, I've felt better (doesn't always help ease my thoughts though).
Avatar universal
Paxiled knows what he is talking about.  I take a lot of advise from him (for which I thank you paxiled)  Therapy has helped me too.  I finally found a therapist  to talk to that I actually like and can relate to. It took a while  to find her.  Hang in there.  We are all in this together! All experiencing or have experienced similar feelings.  I for one am trying to take advise from people on here knowing they have been there and I am feeling now we are all here for each other!!!! Praying for you!
Thanks so much wonbyone :) Just booked a doctor's appointment. Doctor has been checking on me and it looks like she is hoping to suggest therapy as well. I will try it.

I have some apprehensions about taking medication for it though, so I hope I dont have to go that route.
Avatar universal
Just wanted to update this in case anyone who has similar problems wants some insight.

I ended up being checked over by an endocrinologist who checked my thyroid hormone levels and found that one of the major issues I was going through is that I was in the early stages of hyperthyroidism. This was causing my heartrate to spike, and while it does not directly cause anxiety, it can induce it, especially since there was a tendency for my heart to race while I was sleeping.

Changing my lifestyle has helped center me as I've reached my target weight and waistline, and exercise has increased my overall wellbeing. Breathing is much easier during sleep as there is less excess weight to induce OSA, and this specifically helped ease some anxiety episodes.

I still have anxiety, but as Paxiled and Wonbyone have noted above, talking to someone about it and going to therapy will go a long way.
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