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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Arrhythmias

Question: Trouble breathing; "forget" to breath; what dr should I see?

 serabell - Wed Apr 08, 2009 1:33 pm

Hi, I am a 26 yr old female, I don't smoke nor drink nor do any drugs. I have an appointment to see a family doctor later this month (they have a long wait list)... but in the meantime I'm trying to research what this "could be" & if its arrhythmias, what type of doctor should I go to... a regular physician, a heart specialist, a blood specialist? Or, how urgent is this, should I go to the ER?

I can not breathe deeply, as thou I need to yawn to get enough air. I sometimes wake up at night because my body "forgets" to breathe. I am tired even after 9 to 10 hours of sleep (I don't fall asleep during the day, nor at random times). I've always gotten cold easily, even in 70 degree weather, I'm cold. My left leg & left arm "fall asleep" after a few minutes of pressure, while my right leg & right arm do not. I have heart/chest pain sometimes, just sitting there relaxing. These symptoms have come & gone the last few months... but they have been more consistant the past 2 days.

Thanks in advance!! ~Sarah
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:04 pm

User avatar Hi Sarah,

These symptoms could conceivably be caused by something worthy of concern, but are really pretty common and are often seen in young females mostly, in association with mitral valve prolapse (MVP), a benign variant that usually doesn't mean much in itself, but which for some reason is often associated with these symptoms and anxiety (which also can exist independently and cause the same symptoms, which only serves to confuse the picture). I'm glad you have a doctor appointment, and if you don't have anything remarkable or different happen between now and the appointment you should be fine. If anything really offbeat happens I would go on in to the ER, but be prepared to be told it's anxiety-related. (That's no reason to not go if you're really concerned, just something that usually comes up right away and is often accurate). The symptom of feeling as though one can't get a satisfying, deep breath is almost always due to anxiety and an over-awareness of one's breathing habits, throwing everything off, causing unwitting hyperventilation and subsequent weird symptoms like numbness in the hands and around the mouth, a sense of lack of air, etc. This is classic for anxiety/panic disorder, and is also commonly seen in people with MVP (something else I would not be surprised to learn is found if the exam goes that far).

You should have an EKG, some standard bloodwork, and a good office physical exam, but I think it will yield just what I'm telling you here. In the meantime take it easy, and follow up with us here if you have any questions at all. Good luck to you,.
 ccminty - Sat May 09, 2009 7:21 am

Hi Sarah,

You may also wish to go to a sleep specialist and have a sleep study done. Often times "anxiety" is what they tell you because you are young and it is a very common dx. If you are not providing your body enough oxygen during your night sleep, you will feel fatigued throughout the day regardless of how many hours of sleep you have had. It is called Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arrhythmias, diabetes, fatigue, depression and anxiety. You may wish to rule this out before you settle for the text book answer of "anxiety".

Best of Luck!

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