Chest/back/breathing symptoms

About a year and a half ago I suddenly developed severe chest and back pain and felt like I couldn't breathe. I was convinced I was having a heart attack. I went to urgent care (twice, in fact) but blood tests, x-rays and EKG showed nothing wrong with my heart, lungs or ribs. I was told it was probably just tension myalgia due to stress. Since then it's come and gone, sometimes becoming so severe that I've had to stay home from work and barely move. I'm also a marathon runner and sometimes get the feeling that my chest is being compressed and I can't breathe while I'm running.

Just this November I discovered I'm B12 deficient with macrocytic anemia. Since starting self-injections 2.5 months ago, the chest/breathing issues have become noticeably better. I'm so relieved! My question is, is this a symptom of B12 deficiency? I understand the "sighs" and shortness of breathe can occur with B12 deficiency but my symptoms seemed so extreme I assumed they must be from something else.

7 Replies

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  • I would say that it is to do with your B12 deficiency HAve you been tested for Pernicious Anaemia?? (Test for anti-bodies to the Intrinsic Factor) The test is un reliable , but if you test positive you do have PA , if negative you can still have PA ! Macrotic Anaemia is caused by B12 deficiency. The large red blood cells are immature due to lack of B12 . They are too large to penetrate where they have to get to , so you are left depleted of oxygen .Hence the breathlessness etc. We all have such varying symptoms with B12 deficiency .

    Will your doctor not treat you ? Is that why you have to self -inject ?

    I wish you all the best .

  • My doctor ordered blood tests originally, but even when my MCV and MCH were above normal, he said I was fine, it probably meant nothing, and didn't test for B12 or folate. I knew something was wrong when I continued to get more and more fatigued (plus many other symptoms) over the next year, so I ordered my own blood tests. Sure, enough, B12 was low (folate was fine) and MCV/MCH were still high. IF came back negative but I know it has a 50% rate of false negatives, so kind of worthless. I never went back to my doctor ... I just started self-injecting and I feel so much better!

  • hello I too have pain right across my shoulderblades it has been so severe as to reduce me to tears, my asthma also plays up when I have this. I've been diagnosed with PA but the doctors seem mystified by the pain, they tell me PA is painless! I know different, I think it's gastritis as I have atrophic gastritis with my problem. I'm not against self injecting but perhaps you should get a doctor to send a camera down to check out your stomach. If you do have PA you need to be checked up regularly.

  • That sounds horrible! I'm pretty sure mine isn't gastritis since I don't have any real GI symptoms. But I will keep that in mind! I hope you find treatment for your gastritis soon.

  • PA is not painless ! Too much emphasis is placed on the" anaemic" part of the name . You don't get the macrotic Anaemia until you have been deficient for quite some time . When are our medical schools going to give their students some training in recognition, diagnosis and treatment of PA?

    Its truly disgraceful .

  • macrocytic anaemia makes your red blood cells less efficient at their main job - transporting oxygen from your lungs to the cells that need it so breathlessness would be part of the territory. Being low on oxygen can certainly cause chest and back pain - my first experience of a chest infection that was lowering my oxygen levels was precisely that - back and chest pain.

  • The breathlessness always made sense with the macrocytic anemia, but the chest/back pain felt muscular and seemed odd. Good to know that the low oxygen can translate to chest/back pain. Thanks!

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