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I feel like I can't breathe


Question Posted Tuesday March 22 2011, 7:01 am

Okay so I'm 20. I feel like I can't breathe properly, as if I'm not getting enough oxygen into my lungs which causes me to feel lightheaded and dizzy. I also can't do a full yawn sometimes and like i need to yawn every couple of minutes. It usually takes me 6 or 7 tries to get the satisfaction, its the same as the breathing.

I am a smoker, have been for 6 months BUT I've been having this exact problem since I was 5 years old and the only thing the doctor will do is put that thing to my chest and back and ask me to take deep breaths but I don't have the breathing issue when I'm in the doctors office seeing as i only talk to him for 5 minutes.

Doctor also said It could be anxiety and yes I've had anxiety and depression before but like I said, it's been happening since I was 5. Sometimes when I try to get that oxygen satisfaction after a while, my shoulders hurt near my chest area(like the colar bone area) and i can't take deep breaths again for about 5 minutes.

He hasn't even mentioned the possibility of it being Asthma or anything else besides stress and axiety but that can't be it for the reason i stated above and also because it happens 24/7 every single day even when i'm calm and i'm stress free! Dad thinks I'm crazy too, like it's all in my head, but it's not. I've tried breathing exercises and i walk alot and i drink a lot of water and everything and yeah, since I was 5! and I'm pretty sure i wasn't suffering from anxiety or anything when I was 5 so thats another reason.

Does anyone else have the same problem and if they can help? I feel like i'm about to faint or worse, die!


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spartacus answered Thursday September 27 2012, 8:39 am:
i've started getting the exact same thing as well including pain in the shoulder when trying to yawn my stupid doctor says there is nothing wrong but bull**** if i can't breathe i think that is something not right to be fair it is driving me insane all i can concentrate on is trying to breathe properly i wanted to try an asthma pump but doc wouldn't give me one so i'm gonna try vicks on my chest also the doc did say one thing about inhaling steam to help but htf i'm gonna do that without burning my face off i'll never know i ain't got the money or patience for a steam room so i will be going back to the docs soon to try again if i know anything more about this i will let you know also i don't know if you have slight stabbing pain just under your ribs by the stomach but i do just wonderin if it's only me.

Also i'm 23 and i have been smoking for over 10 years but i don't think that has much to do with it as you have only been smoking 6 months.

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LiddoCruz answered Thursday July 12 2012, 9:07 am:
Sadly I have the same problem, it's not very pleasing. I haven't tried telling a doctor yet cause I know one of my friends also has the same problem but his doctor knows about it. But the doctor hasn't said there's anything wrong with me. It just makes you feel so suffocated .

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CLina answered Tuesday April 19 2011, 4:53 am:
I kind of have the same symptoms..I didn't know what was causing my dizziness ..i recently found the cause of my dizziness after 3 years of seeing a lot of doctors..Email me.. Maybe I can help..karito5_12@hotmail.com

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AskAngel answered Saturday March 26 2011, 6:01 am:
Only a doctor can give you a diagnosis and properly evaluate you, but it sounds like you are suffering from panic attacks. I've had panic attacks since I was a child to. Some people say that it is caused by intence fears, but I have noticed that panic attacks often go hand and hand and feel that they may share the same neurotransmitter's in the brain. You have brain cells in your brain that send of signals per se to other parts of the body. If these transmitters are low it often causes depression, but I feel that they may also effect the part of the brain that effects your "fight or flight" responces. Again, i'm not a doctor but realized that when I was having panic attacks, I would get really depressed. The more depressed I got. the worse the panic attacks became. It's important to get panic attacks treated because it can be quite disabeling and over time could cause you to develope phobias. Because of the severity of panick attacks, people usually become of afraid of having more panic attacks, which in turn may bring the onset of another panic attack. Most panic attacks are usually treated with either anti-anxiety medication such as ativan or xanax. Most doctors will usually try and steer away from these because they can become addictive and other alternatives are usually SSRI anti-depressents, such as Paxil or Prozac and counciling. The trick that really helped me was to take one day at a time, i wrote in a journal daily about all the things I was feeling and I set small goals every day. The biggest thing was overcoming the fear of panic attacks and learning to ignore them when I felt an onset as opposed to allowing it to consume me. After months of having them and realizing i wasn't dead yet, i learned to not be afraid of them anymore. This will be your biggest step and probebly the most helpful step in overcoming panic attacks. You may also want to excercise, walk or stay active and keep your mind focused on other activites. Councing will help you figure out what is triggering them. You may want to change up your diet a little bit, especially if you are consuming alot of coffee and/or sugar. These things may make you feel your nerves are on edge and overwhelm you. Taking some time to also try breathing techniques or even meditation to help you learn to relax when you feel over stimulated or anxious can also help calm your nerves and clear your mind so you feel more grounded and focused. Stay positive and try to surround yourself with positive people and environments. This may help lift the depressions and increase the neurotransmitters or "feel good" stuff in your brain. Breaking the cycle with panic attacks is easier when you can lift alot of the depression. It's a lot of hard work, but soon it will be worth it and you can have your life back again. Again, I'm not a doctor and only a doctor can diagnose this, but if this is what you have, hopefully this will be helpful to help you work through this and start living the life you want for yourself. I wish you the best of luck.

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Razhie answered Tuesday March 22 2011, 8:17 pm:
This is worrying you enough to pursue it and see another doctor.

However, I've also got to tell you this:
I have an anxiety disorder. You'd have to know me really, really well these days to spot it, but it my teens and earliest twenties it was pretty obvious.
Airway constriction was part of my anxiety. My mother noticed this when I was barely three and she would take me to the pool. I was a great swimmer - until I had to put my face in the water. Being able to breathe has always, since infancy, been a huge part of what scares me - some people would even call it severe enough to be a phobia.

I don't have asthma. I don't have allergies that cause shortness of breath. Like you, I was thoroughly checked out, but I still felt I couldn't breathe. I wouldn't wear tight necklaces or scarves. I wouldn't wear turtlenecks and only very specific kinds of bras. I exercised, but I wouldn’t do much cardio because I thought I would faint the moment I started to breath heavily. I was terrified of coughing hard or throwing up because it interrupted my breathing. I didn't let even my best friends or romantic partners put their hands around my neck or press against my chest.

At 17 or 18 years old I would have sworn to you there was something wrong with my breathing. But there was nothing wrong with my lungs (or my stomach and intestines - which was always in knots from the stress and fear). All of my physical troubles were rooted in my anxiety. Even when I thought I was calm - I wasn’t. I was anxious all the time, and it was ripping my body apart. I very rarely have any trouble these days - although I do get a little sensitive to my breathing patterns when I’m nervous or stressed, that’s pretty much it. I learned to swim and to jog without being afraid my lungs would burst. I love turtlenecks and scarves now.

Get some therapy. Specifically try out a solid cognitive behavioural therapist. If the first therapist doesn’t feel like a good fit to you, try another. Therapy works when you work it. So find someone to support you through it, and work it.

I can’t tell you that you don’t have a medical issue - I’m not a doctor. If you are this worried you absolutely should see another doctor (as well as the therapist!). However, I can tell you that your experience sounds awfully similar to mine. The mind is more powerful than you realize. Maybe there is something physically wrong and you should keep looking, but anxiety is absolutely capable of making someone physically feel this way as well.

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xomegaroni answered Tuesday March 22 2011, 7:16 pm:
If you don't trust your doctor, see a new one. Doctors can normally tell when patients have asthma. If you are a smoker, it's fairly obvious that that's why you feel as if you can't breathe. Regardless of how long you smoked, it's still bad for you. Try to quit smoking.

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NinjaNeer answered Tuesday March 22 2011, 5:12 pm:
It sounds like you're straining to breathe. You should definitely have your lungs checked out. We can't really diagnose you here, because we aren't doctors, and if we were, we couldn't give out advice online, sight unseen.

I have asthma, and what you're describing sounds a lot like what I deal with when I'm having an exacerbation of my symptoms. If your doctor refuses to do a test on you or send you to a specialist, find one who will. Pulmonary function testing isn't that intense or expensive. I would also go for an allergy test if you haven't had one. The fact that you're experiencing this 24/7 suggests that there's a constant factor. Just because you don't sniffle doesn't mean you're not experiencing an allergic reaction.

It may not be asthma. You could have another lung issue like emphysema, COPD, or even bronchitis. In the meantime, you're not going to like my advice. STOP SMOKING. If you think you may have asthma, it's the worst thing you could possibly do. Also, keep track of your symptoms. Try to keep a diary with notes on what you've experienced each day. That way when your doctor asks for specifics like the impact of exercise on your breathing, you have it ready to go.

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