For about 22 months now, I've had unexplainable symptoms that have consistently affected my quality of life. It gradually started almost two years ago when I noticed I had the feeling of pressure building up and moving upwards into my chest. The symptoms don't seem to be getting any better (if worse) however somedays its easier/harder to cope than others. I am 23 years old, female, employed full time in a low-stress job, just graduated from college a few years ago, take care of myself reasonably well in terms of diet and do nothing consistently enough for the symptoms to get better or worse.
The symptoms include a strong feeling of "pressure" in my chest, sometimes accompanied by a burning feeling, pain, or feeling like something is stuck way down in my chest. It feels like someone is sitting on my chest or like there are tight bands around my chest. The part that is hardest to deal with is how it affects my breathing. The feeling gives me the sensation of suffocation, like I'm not getting relief from oxygen, like my heart is pounding out of my chest, or like I've just ran 5 miles and my breathing can't go back to normal. The weird part is that I can take a deep breath, my oxygen levels are perfect, and my heartbeat is normal. Plus, I also look and sound normal on the outside. It feels like I always need another breath, the sensation in my chest makes me feel like I've been holding my breath and it causes a lot of discomfort. It feels like a mild heart-attack all the time without the arm/jaw pain, in fact, I can't be sure I'd be able to tell the two apart.
The pressure feeling is there 24-7 while the other symptoms vary in tolerabilty. They have not changed as a result of diet or stress/anxiety. I went to the ER in the beginning because it felt like heart pain and they gave me one of those anxiety cocktails and that didn't help the symptoms. My doc considered chest wall pain, but the pain doesn't worsen when he presses my chest.
Tests I've had
All of the tests Ive taken have come back showing I am the picture of health. Ultrasound, MRI, chest x-ray, endoscopy, motility test, etc. I've had my heart checked and a lung function test performed and they were both perfect. I also visited an allergist for 10 months and 3 inhalers and several allergy medicines did not help the chest/breathing symptoms. I have also been on lexapro, celebrex, and nexium - so we've moved on from thinking its GERD or anxiety (plus I have had anxiety issues in the past and I know how my body has and still does respond to anxiety). I've seen two internists, an allergist, heart doc, and a gastro doctor. I also tried cutting out all junk food, acidic foods, and dairy and just drinking water for a week and still no difference
I often feel very short of breath and lightheaded at times. I usually gasp for air at some point when I eat or drink. I steer clear of exercising now because I barely feel I have enough breath to hold a normal conversation but I do get around pretty well at work since I'm in retail. I keep trying to listen to my body because it should not feel this labored to breath normally. It feels like my heart is struggling to beat or like my lungs want to give out. I don't think of it every second of the day, but at times it's hard to ignore. It seems to bother me more at night, or when I'm not really active because the symptoms don't relax when I do.
I don't know how to continue coping with this, I just try to get through the day. I just can't imagine such constant symtoms having no cause or cure. I've googled my symptoms a ton of times and the only thing I can think of would be chestwall pain with the symptoms of dyspnea or angina. I'd appreciate any input or ideas or new things to try (but please try not to jump to the conclusion that it's in my head or that it's anxiety.. besides the symptoms not being a text-book case, my doctors agree nothing else seems to point to that).
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