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problems taking a full breath

I have been having episodes that come and go, not really short on breath, but the muscles that I breath in with seem to get weak or tight... i mainly feel it at the top of my chest near where the bottom of my neck is... again emphasis on tight breathing muscles.   I have also had this constant muscle tension headache in my forehead for the past year strait.  Call me crazy but I wonder if I'm developing a more systemic muscle problem?           ANY IDEAS?    My tests so far have included an MRI of the brain  and MRA of the brain, an MRI of the cervical spine, an Arterial bloodgas, Pulmonary function tests, a chest x-ray, an EKG, and an echocardiogram.   And the usual blood tests.     ANY IDEAS PLEASE HELP...I know you can't diagnose me, but wont you take you best shot PLEASE?   I am 28 years old and male if that helps....ex smoker been 2 years since I quit
8 Responses
251132 tn?1198082422
These symptoms do not suggest any specific areas of disease.  It appears that you have already consulted a neurologist and your lungs and heart are fine.  You may consider that these are reactions to stress and consider speaking to a psychiatrist.  Anxiety is a fairly common cause of chest tightness when all other physiologic areas have been ruled out.
Avatar universal
"the muscles you breathe with" you should mean DIAPHRAGM, but it sounds like you mean the muscles in the upper chest. You should be able to breath using your diaphragm and have your chest muscles completely relaxed. I was the same and it took quite a bit of effort to retain because chest breathing was habitual after many years. Iwould get some chest pain - the chest muscles fatigue easily whereas the diaphragm has a different type of muscle and doesn't get fatigued. Try searching on HYPERVENTILATION syndrome - which is really chest breathing. good luck. This is just from my expereince and what I've read.
Avatar universal
Try going to a vocal coach. They teach proper diamhragamatic breathing techniques. Even if you have a medical issue, this will help you learn to take deeper breaths with less effort.
Avatar universal
Hey Cleveland,
I've got these same symptoms, back again for probably the 4th or 5th time in 4 years. I've been to the doctor, nothing too invasive, but they say my chest sounds fine, had one X-ray about 4 years ago, when I had a chest pain problem. I was having sharp pains everytime I breathed in. They did the EKG, lung X-ray ( which scared the @#$% out of me because I've smoked about 1/2 pack a day for 20 years. Doc said "lungs are perfect" But it seems like every year, usually in the winter I get this problem where I have to Yawn to get a deep breath. It does get me anxious, which I feel makes my chest muscles tighten up, which make me yawn more, etc. etc. Then the muscles get tired and it's really bad. I seem to have no problem with physcial activity. It actually helps me get in shape because every time I get it I start using the treadmill, really to "test" if it is something worse. ( if I drop dead it was something worse ! ) Here's my theory from someone's who has that tight feeling right now, have had it in the past, and have had it go away for 6 months, a year, then get it again. I think you may have tight muscles in your back or neck, which made it's way to your chest area. ( my upper chest feels tight when I stand up very straight and tall.) I also got this episode after going to physical therapy for shoulder and neck tightness.
Try this, get one of those big inflatable exercise balls and arch your back over it so you get a good stretch in your chest. You can try raising your arms back over your head, hang your head back, etc. Just lie there, no tension. For about 5 minutes. Also take a towel and dangle it over your back and grab it from behind with the other hand to stretch each tricep muscle. See if this gives you any short term relief. ( even a few minutes.) If it does you may well just be very tight. ( hey, I am pretty sure this is my problem and I still can't stop it in it's tracks.) You almost have to wait it out. Just keep lightly stretching every day. Believe it or not the last time I had it, I broke the cycle by just laying on my back watching T.V. !, I just starting taking some deep breaths through my stomach, and it dawned on me that I could breath lying on my back using just my stomach. No Yawning, etc. It was just when I was standing or sitting upright, and when I was using my chest muscles. Hope this helps you, I've just starting getting it again for about a week. It really can make you anxious. I am heading for the treadmill now. Hope this isn't my last post !!!!

Good luck.
Avatar universal
I'm so glad to hear someone saying the exact same things I have been telling the doctor and family and friends for over a week now!  Everyone thinks I am crazy--or just anxious!  The doctor did a chest X-ray and EKG.  I'm perfectly healthy, so he told me it was probably anxiety (even though I told him I am not stressed and do not feel anxious) and to take a xanax and I will feel better in a couple of days.  I am athletic, in great shape and have no history of asthma or any other health problems what-so-ever.  About a week ago, I started feeling short of breath, like I couldn't quite catch that last breath at the top of my lungs, or should I say just below my collarbone.  It is more apparent on the left side.  I can go about my daily routine, even exercise, but I AM VERY UNCOMFORTABLE!  I am trying not to be dramatic about this--I mean, I can still breathe, just not deeply without much effort--and yes, yawning does seem to help!  And, ironically, I sleep fine, actually, I am at my best when laying on my back or side.  I'm hoping it will pass.  Just because something doesn't show-up on a chest x-ray doesn't mean it's not there.  Any thoughts on what that might be?  Could it be allergies?  I have no other symptoms (no phlem, mucus, stuffiness,etc.) except fatigue, from trying so hard to breathe all day!  I left the doctor feeling stupid and hopeless--like I'm supposed to be controlling something I can't even figure out!
Avatar universal
I usually am not someone who reveals health issuus about myself, but I decided to log on as a I am running out of options (trying to remain patient!!) and question anyone who could possibly provide any information regarding my symptoms- Here goes...  approximatly six months ago a had a sudden onset (over a period of 5 days) of breathing difficulty in which I could not take a full breath and felt as if I was suffocating/gasping for air...prior to this I was a competiive fitness/bodybuilder in the best shape of my life..I was competing on a national level, never smoked, never drank, I have never taken any supplements for bodybuilding such as creatine, metabolism pills etc.  I did have some surgeries about 4 years ago for prolapsed pelvic floor intestines which foot and half of my colon was removed-ever since the surgery my immune system and digestive system had difficulties which forced me to begin eating healthier (although I have been body building for 8 years)and taking some whole food organic digestive enzymes which seemed to help.  As a result in the change of diet I began having less headaches, less sinus issues etc. and as of last April my health was doing great.  Then early October I had a sudden onset of shortness of breath/difficulty breathing...after a few days of consistent gasping my husband ended up making me go to ER -they ran EKG, chest xray and found nothing. I was put on prednisone until I saw a doctor which helped slightly.  I had breathing tests done in which I came back positive for asthma and was pretty much doped up with a shot in my hip of steroids, oral steroids, steroid inhalers and a night med.  The doctor said to give it some time and I would feel much better, however I have not gotten better.  My chest is extremely tight and I find myself saying I just want to breathe all the time!!  I can no longer do aerobic excericise..although I have tried being that one week prior to this I was working full time, running, lifting and life was great-Now I am gasping for air, feels like my chest has been pounded on/like its bruised (which I saw ears nose throat doctor who saw signs of acid reflux and put me on prolosec and said it would help the chest tightness/heaviness because it was prob. heartburn)I had to take a medical leave from a job that I greatly enjoy as a pediatric occupational therapist because I am so uncomfortable and VERY tired...exhausted from trying to breath and have no idea what happened.  I am going to see a GI doctor b/c it was mentioned that possibly there is a problem esaphaegal spinctor-I am concerned that this is not just asthma (I never had any breathing problems prior)...and even if it is asthma that my have surfaced due to a weather change from hot to cold/rain that occurred the week I started getting symptoms and some mold I was exposed to in a building I would think that my airways should be healed after 6 months of meds.  Is it normal to be diagonosed with asthma so suddenly and also not to mention I am 29 years old (female).  The doctor says that I may just be anxious, I tried to be open minded but I really really do not think that this is the problem-any help would be greatly appreciated before six months turns into seven months into years...thanks!
Avatar universal
I have had this problem for YEARS! I remember being about 8 years old and sitting in school trying to yawn so I could do a deep breath. I know I am not going to not get enough breath though, so I have always regarded it as an anxiety thing or possible an allergy, as I get it when I eat tomato sauce (ketchup) and sugar-free gum. So I think for me it is connected to environment (chemicals in food, etc) as well as anxiety.

I agree that breathing from the diaphragm does help, but I always forget to do that!

Bizarrely, the one thing that always helps me is smoking. I think it is because subconsciously I think smoking relaxes me. By the way, I am not a regular smoker, I just do it every now and then, so I have noticed that effect.

Avatar universal
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