I've been on a strange trip these past few days.
The night from Wednesday to Thursday I woke up not being able to exhale. So I woke my husband, decided on the nearest ER vs ambulance and he drove me there. After a blood test and an ecg they diagnosed hyperventilation and a panic attack. Ok. When I felt better again hours later I was sent home. I did wake up the previous nights a few times, thinking I had a nightmare, but it's possible I had actually breathing problems. It got better when sitting up and controlling my breath for a few minutes. Another bit of info: I did rather exhausting HIIT strength training the previous days in an air conditioned room - like I did for the previous 5 weeks, with non-exercise days of course.
Back home I ended up surfing the net, not thinking of anything, and suddenly from one moment to another I could not exhale and someone big was sitting down on my chest again and my lung volume shrank. This time I was not hyperventilating. I didn't panic. But to be sure I tried breathing into a bag for a while without any change, and thus off we went to a clinic my HR rep had recommended (I'm on expat assignment atm). I guess she got a big scare when I phnoned her being completely out of breath ;). Again some tests. I also received pulmicort and ventolin inhallations, after which I felt better. But two hours later the next attack. So I stayed the night and got many tests along the way, and had several more attacks. Got disrchanged next noon, again got an attack at night while sleeping, back to ER and finally saw a lung specialist the next day.
After some tests the doc concluded it could be a mild form of asthma, maybe because I had problems as a child (mainly during sport, holding my breath to be able to do a sprint), maybe reflux related, potentially not panic attacks. Got a pile of medicines and felt miserable all day from all the tests. Ventolin kind of helped, but I could not really aim well. And hey, how do you inhale and hold you breath for a moment when you're out of breath? Then I read about breathing techniques to relax your lung, and it helped! Yiha! From then on I only had minor attacks during the evening and night and ventolin took care of those.
And now I'm feeling completely ok when I just sit around (somewhat out of breath when I move, but lung volume feels okish and exhaling works) and wonder if I really have asthma. Aren't I supposed to feel miserable for a bit longer until all the meds work? I never coughed and only had a wheeze when I was breathing really deeply - well, as deep as I could anyway. But I can control my breathing quite well anyway from snorkeling/free diving for photos. I'm more of an scientist (lets test what the humid air outside does to my breathing) rather than an emotional person, and psychological problems or panic attacks don't sound like me at all. I'm not stressed out either and the previous days I didn't think of breathing problems at all while feeling ok. But who knows... I'm very much in doubt because I feel rather good now.