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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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What could shortness of breath indicate?

Hello.I ve been having breathing problems for more than a month. I feel like I can t breathe as if someone is suffocating me.It especially gets worst when I lay down or am asleep. I have been to two doctors, the first doctor diagnosed me with asthma and said I need to take cortisone inhalers. After a week of using it for only once a day, it got a lot better.After I stopped using the inhaler, the breathing difficulties returned again. This time, I went to a different doctor since the old one wasn t available anymore. The other doctor said I do not have asthma at all. I made many different tests and they all said I was fine. I didn t have anemia or heart problems and my blood pressure was just fine. The doctor just gave me a multivitamin for general health and said I need to come back for the X-Ray for my chest. What could be the real reason for it? It s getting really worst lately. I don t know what to do anymore. For some reason, my parents and doctor doesn t think i m asthematic, but I was diagnosed with it as a child and one time during my teenage years, and the other doctor disagrees about me having it in the first place. I don t have coughing or weezing, just shortness of breath. How come the inhaler made me feel better if it wasn t the case? Thanks, Allison.
Fri, 17 Apr 2015
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Allergist and Immunologist 's  Response
Hello Allison,

Thank you for asking at HCM.

I went through your history and can understand your concern and confusion.

I would like to know more about you like your age, nose symptoms (nose congestion, running nose, nose itching, etc), whether you are exposed to passive smoking/polluted environment, etc.

However, at present, from your provided details, I would like to make suggestions for you as follows:

1. To confirm whether you have asthma or not, I would suggest you a test known as spirometry with post-bronchodilator reversibility. This will help to know your lung capacity as well as status of airways, whether they are obstructed, etc.

2. Inhaler made you feel better suggests possibility of asthma. However, if you have not had such problems in past years, it could be a simple episode of bronchitis or infection which lasted long. (please note that some episodes can last for 4-6 weeks until complete recovery). If you have shortness of breath in past years (even childhood), it would more favor diagnosis of asthma.

3. I would like to mention here that most of the patients with asthma have normal chest X-rays. Chest X-rays are not useful to diagnose or to rule out asthma. Of course, Chest X-rays are helpful to know if you have any other lung related conditions like pneumonia, etc.

4. In general, I would also suggest you regular breathing exercises and avoidance of smokes/fumes/dusts to improve your lung capacity on long term basis. If you are routinely exposed to such environment, I would suggest you personal protection measures such as using face mask, etc.

Hope above suggestions will be helpful to you and will help you solve the confusions.

Should you have any further query, please feel free to ask at HCM.

Wish you the best of the health ahead.

Thank you & Regards.
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