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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Asthma

Question: I have pectus Excavatum (mild), get checked for Asthma?

 NightArrow85 - Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:09 pm

I have mild pectus excavatum, and the doctors at Boston told my mother that my lungs may expand differently than normal. For as long as I can remember I have experienced symptoms that have been brought on by cold air intake and exercise.

Gasping for air, barely able to breath
Sharp Pain in Chest (lung area)
Intense Headache at the temples
Cant seem to breath through nose
A dry cough usually persists for up to 20 minutes after

These symptoms seem to be brought about by breathing in cold air (lovely New England Winter) and are at there worst after exercise. This exercise is generally mild (jogging up or down one small hill, running from one class to another). I used to do cross country and after a race it would be brutal. From lack of excercise it has definately gotten worse, however this has always been bad.

My question is - Should I be talking to a doctor about asthma or am I just really out of shape?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Sat Jan 03, 2009 9:49 pm

User avatar Hello -

While pectus excavatum can predispose to some breathing limitation in selected individuals, the symptoms you describe sound more like classic response to cold air and, yes, possibly asthma. All the symptoms are classic for sensitivity to cold, dry air, which can aggravate asthma if there is a predisposition. However, a lot of people without any of the above may also respond this way. The inability to breathe through your nose may be due to something obstructive in that area, however, such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps. This is easy enough to check, but for the vital capacity questions, a simple pulmonary function test at your doctor's office should be sufficient to determine whether you need further study for asthma (or other pulmonary problems) or not. If you can get one of the little plastic asthma meter gizmos often used for preliminary testing and take it with you on one of your jogs and blow into it after having exercised in cold air, you may be able to provide this extra bit of provocative testing that may be difficult to duplicate in the office. If you can blow at least a 300 under those conditions you probably have no real problems. However, the doctor's office is still the gold standard for figuring this out, so that's my suggestion. If you wind up keeping the asthma checker (assuming your doctor uses these very handy little give-away things) you could also try the cold air experiment.

Hope this is helpful to you. Best of luck, and please follow up with us as needed.

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