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Can shallow breathing, dizziness, tachycardia and migraines be signs of pheochromocytoma?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 5133 Questions
I think I have a pheochromocytoma. My endochrinologist appt. is Monday. I am very nervous I may not have it and I am left undiagnosed. I am having major attacks that started 10 years ago. They have gotten much worse over the years with new symptoms presenting within the last two years. I am at the end of my rope with ambulance rides and er visits. My quality of life is deteriorating drastically. Here I will list my symptoms of the attacks one last time. I do not want to be undiagnosed anymore. I fear I will die or worse, I will continue living this way. Here is a list: Low potassium sudden onset of racing heart, palpitations, shakiness, shallow breathing, dizzyness, pins and needles heart pounding really hard tachycardia 250bpm+ Hypertensive crisis 240/118 bad reactions to chemicals like, caffeine, benadryl, decongestants, pain meds like percocet, delodid. blood trasfusion from anemia my baby died 20 days after emergency c section because of abnormal birth defect 500 plus attacks 100 some er visits 30-40 ambulance rides wake up suddenly in middle of the night with serious attacks, feel my heart will explode sensitive to dieting and exercise, both cause me to have major attacks major migranes with vomiting major stabbing pain in mid back trouble swallowing food sometimes to the point of possible choking I believe I have listed it all, now please give me any information you have in figuring out the source of all this. I think I may have a dopamine secreting pheochromocytoma, but that could bevway wrong. I just really relate to the symptoms, and I need to know if I have to be tested for thst during an episode. Otherwise, what else could be happening to me???
Posted Wed, 5 Feb 2014 in Medicines and Side Effects
Answered by Dr. Chobufo Ditah 1 hour later
Brief Answer: Testing would be very helpful Detailed Answer: Hi and thank you so much for this query. I am so sorry to hear about these disturbing symptoms you have had to deal with over several years. I am impressed with the complete and comprehensive nature of your symptoms alongside the timing. This is very important information to help physicians determine the possible cause of your illness and symptoms. Episodic high blood pressure associated with symptoms of excess adrenaline levels like palpitations, headaches, rapid heart rate, sweating, headaches, chest pain, etc is always suggestive of pheochromocytoma and you need to be investigated for it until proven otherwise. I will not like you to put it straight forward to your endocrinologist that you are suspecting a pheochromocytoma. This is because it may lead to a biased clinical thinking. Simply describe your symptoms and answer his questions as they arise. At the end of the encounter, he would discuss with you what he thinks the possible cause of you symptoms is and establish a working plan. Though very unlikely that he will not make the call, kindly ask him questions to suggest this if it should happen. You would not need to be tested during an episode. However, if one should happen during your time in the hospital, it will be a perfect opportunity for your doctors to first hand witness what you have been describing. Testing is essentially in two steps. The first thing would be to test your blood and urine for the hormones secreted by this tumor and its metabolites. If the levels are high and suggestive of pheochromocytoma, then you would continue to do imaging studies which would locate the site of the tumor. The two most common locations of this tumor are the kidney and the nerve chain along the vertebral column. If all of these should conclude on this as the diagnosis, which I strongly feel so, you would be offered treatment options which mainly include drugs and surgery. If this should not be the cause, at least we would have known that it is not the cause and pursue further avenues. I know I have had the chance to diagnose just one client with pheochroocytoma for the past 5years of my career and your symptoms very much reminds me of the patient I had. I hope this addresses your query fully. Thank you so much for using our services and please feel free to ask for clarifications if need be. I wish you the best of health. Dr. Ditah, MD.
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