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Avatar universal

Constant shortness of breath!!!

Hi,im a 22 year old male and i've been dealing with this constant shortness of breath for over 5 years now , and doctors have no idea what's wrong with me. The only thing they say is that its anxiety, but i truly dont believe it. It just started spontaneously out of nowhere. I tried to take a deep breath one day and couldn't:(. After that for about 2 years i was constantly taking deep breaths and not able to get a satisfied breath. I was yawning and sighing all day. I had reached the point when i was staying home in my bed just hoping i would die so it would stop.  After 2 years or so it went away. It then came back after i smoked a cigarette . Ever since then its been an ongoing struggle. I feel as if i have no control of my life, and im constantly thinking of my breathing. I feel hopeless and feel as if no one understands what im going through or that i have this disease hat doctors cant detect. My doctor has put me on xanax and it seemed to cut the edge off a lil but its still there. Its not *** bad and when i first got it but it still disrupts my life. I dont work i don't go to school  and i don't have much of a social life .I've gone to cardiologist, ent's, gi's, pulmonary doctors. I've gone through xrays, PFT, EKG, stress tests, endoscopy . Only thing i have is GERD and a very small irregular heart beat .My lung specialist says its just all in my head and that i have this because ive become aware of my breathing pattern. i've used advair, singular and breathing pumps with no results. when im sitting or laying down its seems to be fine but when i stand up or more it kicks in more. I'm losing hope on what's going on with me. Does anyone have this?If so can anyone recommend anything else i should look for? the only thing i really want to do is a MRI or CT scan. Has anyone heard of chronic hyperventilation syndrome? or phrenic nerve damage? if anyone can be of help please email me or post a message? My email is ***@****
4 Responses
242588 tn?1224275300
The shortness of breath you have experienced can be very distressing.  What you describe does fit the picture of the hyperventilation syndrome as suggested by your lung specialist saying “...its just all in my head”.  In this circumstance, its being in your head could be due to a problem with the part of your brain that sends the signal to your lungs to breathe, called the respiratory center, or it could be primarily on an emotional basis, usually associated with chronic anxiety.  It is highly likely that the second of these, an emotional basis, is the cause of your distress.  In addition, once one becomes aware of their breathing, it is easy to become obsessed with it, especially when your life is lacking many of the normal distractions, as mention “I dont work i don't go to school  and i don't have much of a social life “.

Were there a physical or anatomical cause of your abnormal ventilation, it should be readily apparent after 5 years and the strongest argument against that is that your symptoms spontaneously resolved after the first 2 years.  In all likelihood, further medical testing, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or CT scan, would be normal.

I strongly suggest that you seek counseling to:  1) help you find ways to get back to work or to school, as that will be therapeutic, and 2) seek ways to interact with others to develop a social life and reverse your current isolation.  In other words, get help to engage yourself in life and reverse the current pattern that gives you so much time to think about your breathing.  Without counseling along with good medicine for chronic anxiety, neither of these will be likely to happen.  It has been reported that counseling plus bio-feedback plus acupuncture may be more effective than any one of these approaches, alone.

It is very difficult to break-out of a life style such as yours.  It can be done but you definitely need help to do it.

Good luck.
Avatar universal
Ok, well you need to eliminate anxiety as the cause. Try the Linden method (you can order it online) - it worked for me. Basically, the method is to try distracting yourself with extremely engaging activities till you are no longer thinking about your breathing.

If this isn't satisfactory, then it is possible that there is something wrong with your nervous system that is causing muscle spasms around your lungs. I suggest this because I suspect it's what I have. I 'cured' myself of my anxiety some time ago, and lead a normal life now, but do experience a shortness of breathe that seems to be unrelated to any anxiety and is aggravated by my GERD and nasal dysfunction.
Does your nose work?

Good luck!
Avatar universal
Thanks bardcan.  When u had your shortness of breath before your tried the Linden method, was the Sorthness constant? were u constantly thinking of your breathing? My next step would be to go for a neurological checkup to see if my phrenic nerve that controld the diaphragm has be damaged of is not working properly or if my C3 C4 C5 vertabrea have been compressed cuase i heard that can breathing problems. But i truely believ its something more on the mental side, and is possibly aggrivated with the gerd/lpr. I did have a deviated septum nut fixed that a couple eyars ago.
Avatar universal
I also had a deviated septum fixed. Same with a lot of people I've spoken to. There seems to be a strong correlation between the three conditions.
I'm getting surgery soon to fix my GERD as I have a theory that this will have a domino effect in helping me recover.
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