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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Chest symptoms

Question: Shortness of breath and stiff upper body muscles

 sanmeyer - Fri Apr 04, 2008 5:48 pm

I am a 40 year old female. For the past five years, I have been experiencing shortness of breath, sometimes coupled with numbness at the back of my neck - a pressing, hot sensation.

I constantly have a hot feeling in my chest and back muscles, which also tend to be stiff a lot of the time. My face flushes a lot too.

I have had complete blood counts, which were normal. The only apparent abnormality that my pulmonologist has found is moderately low diffusion levels in my lungs (21 mm/? rather than the 'average' of 28mm/?).

When my PCP listens to my chest, my breathing is normal, yet I always feel like I'm sitting under water and sometimes it's difficult to talk because of this breathless feeling.

He keeps asserting it's all in my mind, which annoys me tremendously, since I try to go about my daily activities as much as I can, but feel breathless so much of the time.

What is your take on this?
 Dr. A. Madia - Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:58 am

User avatar Hi,

Shortness of breath has several causes for its occurence. First and foremost is low hemoglobin. One must pay attension to this first, if low and corrected the patient is saved from a lot of lengthy and expensive investigations.

Then there is the bronchial asthma and brinchitis. Asthma is usually with allergies and seasonal too. Patient has choking sensation, wheeze, cough, expectoration and an air hunger.

Then there is the cardiac- heart-origin. Younger patients like you may have some valve disease or pericarditis. Relatively older population may have coronary blockages and have angina and dyspnea. Pateints witha a past 'attack' could have a low ejection fraction.

Restrictive lung disease is another possibility. Your pulmonary function test just could mean this. Restrictive lung will mostly show in Chest X ray and an HR CT of chest is indicated. One may need steroids for this diaease.

In my view, before attributing a symptom to anxiety a complete investigational work up is a must so that some important diagnosis is not missed.


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