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Elevated pulse, pressure in ears, breathing difficulty, anxiety attacks. Having a normal blood pressure. Any advice?

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Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 2565 Questions
here is my problem. For a few weeks now, I wake up in the morning with my face swollen, pressure on both sides of my face near and around ears, hear pulsing in my left ear. When I get up to walk, it is difficult because I can't catch my breath mainly because of the pressure in my ears/sides of face. I do have a slightly elevated pulse now but my blood pressure is fine. I have been to the cardiologist due to an attack of extremely high pulse 160, continuously over 14 days period. Had the heart monitor and the doctor said yes i have a high pulse but everything is ok with the heart. I am proned to anxiety attacks but this is driving me crazy!. I can't do anything without breathing like a marathon runner. Funny but when I stand still and do dishes or something like that, my problems are much less. Easier to breath even though I feel my pulse beating rapidly. Any help?
Posted Sun, 29 Apr 2012 in Mental Health
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 37 minutes later
Hello and thanks for the query.

There are a couple of considerations which come to mind with what you describe.

The first consideration is that of an anxiety or panic attack. A panic attack can have profound systemic effects on a patient ranging from racing pulse to headache to sweating. There may not necessarily be an inciting factor which is causing fear which can make this sometimes difficult to diagnose.

With the pulse being elevated your physician might consider starting a low dose of a medication called a beta blocker. A beta blocked can lower the peak of your pulse and may also have a calming effect on you.

Lastly, one other concern would be that of allergic rhinitis or sinusitis. When your nasal and sinus passageways are inflamed it can lead to symptoms which are somewhat similar to those which you have described. Also, there could be a mild component of reactive or spasmodic airway going on. This is otherwise referred to as mild asthma. Your doctor could evaluate for this by checking a special lung test.

I thank you again for submitting your query and hope i have provided you with some useful thoughts and considerations. If you have any additional concerns I would be happy to address them.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Elevated pulse, pressure in ears, breathing difficulty, anxiety attacks. Having a normal blood pressure. Any advice? 1 hour later
Thank you for answering me, Doctor but I have a follow up question. My cardiologist said there is no need to start drugs, I should just learn to calm down. Problem is I don't realize that I am being driven to panic attacks. May I explain certain things? I am quite morbidly obese, and my doctor said the pulse elevates due to weight and inactivity. The thing is for my size I believe I am quite active. I run my business out of my home and yes that makes me immobile during business hours but every day I clean the bathroom, make breakfast, cleaned the house, cooked dinner...I mean I was not always sitting around until now. Now since this pressure thing started, I can't move - it aggravates me so much. My husband says I am making myself worse by my reactions to it but when you can't take two steps without your head feeling like its going to explode, your ears popping or hearing your pulse and then not being able to breath, its ridiculous. Once I sit down again, it takes about 30 seconds or so and then I can breath relatively normal.
Everyone tells me its a sinus infection or attack. Can you tell me is there something I can do without prescriptions to help cure this infection? Is there a tea or herbal remedies or anything that can help me? Sometimes the pressure is quite painful, mostly its just damned annoying. Do you think you can help?
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 9 hours later
Hello again,

Thanks for the additional information. I am sorry to hear this is something which is quite bothersome for you. I do have some thoughts related to your questions.

First - while seemingly impossible, you absolutely must design a daily progressive exercise regimen where you focus on just exercise and nothing else. Cleaning and doing chores does burn calories but does not condition your heart and metabolism as much as 30 to 45 minutes of walking for example. If you need help with that you consult a fitness trainer who could XXXXXXX with you for a few sessions to give you some motivation and ideas about this.

Before you can do that of course we need to get the headaches under control. One thing you might try for the congestion is a XXXXXXX Pot. This is a nasal rinse available over the counter and not a prescription at all. Try searching for it on google and see what you think. A good daily multivitamin with vitamin C might boost the immune system. Herbal tea such as echinacea is sometimes very helpful as well.

With the information regarding your weight I am concerned that you may have a degree of sleep apnea. This can be assessed fully with a sleep study and if you truly do have sleep apnea - treatment can dramatically change your life for the better.

Thanks again for the query and followups. Let me know if I can be of any additional assistance.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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