Strange symptoms over the years - asthma?

Hello forum, this is my first post and I really really need your insight. Before I begin - I'm not here for diagnosis since I was already diagnosed a long time ago, I would just like to see if anyone else felt the same to confirm/deny some of my fears. I most certainly will see a doctor about this as soon as I can.

First off, a bit about me - I'm 27, diagnosed with asthma bronchiale as a little kid, treated with steroids, achieved remission of all symptoms by age 11 and suffered none until 16. In the meantime I was stupid enough to pick up smoking and sure enough the symptoms reappeared. They were never really severe and at first went away on their own (any sort of wheezing I ever got from asthma always went away on its own eventually but I usually would use an inhaler to stop it because it gets annoying). In my early twenties I sporadically used beta agonist inhalers like ventolin and also serevent but I was spotty at taking it and generally lived in spartan conditions, was malnourished (I'm underweight) and also drank perhaps more than one should. Somewhere around 2008-2009 I realized I'm going too hard on the rescue inhalers, went to a doctor, received a scolding and have been on symbicort 2x160mcg a day ever since. I keep a ventolin around just in case without my doctors knowledge but never use it nowadays because there is no need. I've never been to ER on account of asthma.

Now to my actual question.

Starting at about age 14 I began to observe a curious thing - I would sometimes become short of breath. At that time it was mostly at night and prevented me from sleep - I would wake up gasping for air if I managed to nod off with my heart beating hard. Whenever that happened I never wheezed or felt any sort of airway obstruction - it just never felt like asthma and for a long time I never made the connection. Eventually it become enough of a bother to make me convince my parents to start looking for help and we went to many a doctor to no avail - only the cardiologist saw a *slight* Mitral Valve Prolapse in my heart and said it was harmless. Calmed by that I relied on some breathing tricks I came up with (mostly breathing less than I felt need to since I'd often hyperventillate if I kept up with my perceived need of air) and it always went away. This continued through the years and I never made much of it just toughed it out and always tried to alter diet and lifestyle patterns whe going through it and it indeed went away every time. A year ago I had a month off of work and I didn't really eat well and finally I had a huge drinking bout with a couple friends and sure enough the next day it was all back for the first time in a couple years. I was plenty scared but it went away after two weeks or so and I forgot all about it.

Now, late this past year begins the actual thing. Late october I went to my pulmonologist and he had me do spirometry like always and also a chest x-ray he does 2-3 times a year, doesn't seem like he saw anything there (he never tells me anything about these tests although I memorize them and look up on the net when at home - my spirometry FEV seems to consistently hover around 83% projected value for my weight and age).

Early November it all began. At first I noticed I get way more huffed at the gym than I normally would. Then, my 14km walks I do twice a week or more started making my heart go a lot faster if the symptoms were flaring up (normally I maybe sweat some, because I walk really fast). The shortness of breath is back and I can't sleep. At first I'd wake up gasping for air with my heart beating hard many times a night although eventually I always do manage to fall asleep. I feel dull, prickly chest pains all the time - they are never sharp or overly bothersome. A feeling of tightness. December I had periods of light remission when suddenly I was almost okay, slept well and felt well and then it would come back. It got to a point where I have to sleepon stacked pillows otherwise I feel out of breath with a sinking feeling in my chest (it feels all tight and weak) - it happens minutes after I doze off. If I don't fall asleep I still feel some discomfort but less. I am also very aware of my heart beating and get these minor pains all over the chest area, front and back. Eventually I get all stoic and accept the fact that maybe I will die today and at some point fall asleep and get a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep in the wee hours of the morning. This totally disorganizes my life. At every point of this my airways seem crystal clear I haven't heard a wheeze from there for months or maybe all year even. The doctor always says take symbicort in case something happens but I'm starting to feel as if I feel even worse after taking it in regards to the shortness of breath - is that possible? It certainly doesn't help, ventolin doesn't either. They have no effect on these symptoms aside from ventolin slightly speeding my heart up.

Sometimes these symptoms last all day all night for days, interrupted only by the erratic sleep I get although if I do sleep finally I hardly wake up. Some days they are less annoying. I have a spotty tongue so I thought reflux but I get no heartburn. I went to another pulmonologist for a private paid visit and he listened to my breathing with a stethoscope and said my lungs were all clear. Is that enough of a diagnosis? Given my spirometry test values can this be COPD and is it possible for lungs to degrade this fast? And is it possible to have asthma attack if I FEEL everything is okay with my lungs? I CAN take that deep satisfying breath if I really want to. Whenever I had asthma trouble in the past it was a no-brainer and you could tell its the lungs right away.

I forgot to mention I quit all smoking in november and drastically cut back on alcohol.

I'm sorry for typing up a huge wall of text for my first post but east european health care being what it is I can't go to my usual pulmonologist sooner than January 21st so only other option is ER which is free but I don't want them to label me hypochondriac and refuse help on that account in case of a real asthma attack if it comes. And if I don't do anything for the next few weeks this will destroy my social and professional life. At this point I'm torn between pulmonary and cardiac causes for this. I'd be grateful for any feedback

1 Reply

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  • Hi

    I had childhood asthma which was well managed with ventolin and no symptoms till 17. When it started and now its rather too severe, but the only difference between ur problems and my asthma is that I am very breathless whilst u are not. So I think it is something other than asthma but u should get it checked out. Pain generally is an indication that something wrong is going on. Hope u get better soon.

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