Ever since I began swimming lessons (about 20 years ago) I have had these symptoms. Whenever I swim in chlorine or walk past a highly chlorinated pool (i.e. at a rec park) I have a lot of trouble breathing. It feels as though someone is sitting on my chest and throat, and I just can't get enough air in my lungs. Once at Canadas Wonderland, I was rushed to the little emergency room there and had the oxygen mask on my face. It seems to hurt less, and I seem to be able to breath easier if I am lying down, but once i get up, it hurts again and it feels like I can't breath. It lasts for a few hours, then it goes away. Sometimes when the reaction is more severe, it doesnt feel better until HOURS later. For instance, if I went into a pool in the evening, I wont feel better until the next morning. And even though I can breathe better in the morning, my chest still hurts and is sore.
I have been to a lung specialist and he basically told me that I should not go in chlorine again or I might die. However, he performed no tests or anything - he just spoke those words and sent me on my way.
Once I was in a bromine hot tub and I felt the same reaction, so I got out, and in addition to all of the symptoms stated above, a thick layer of skin peeled off of my tongue. Once again, I was back in at the doctors, and he told me that I need to go to the emergency room WHILE the reactions are occurring so they can monitor my body. So I did. Twice. Both times they told me I was having an anxiety attack because it seemed to hurt less when i was lying down. Once again, they performed no tests. And this is where I am today.
When I experience these symptoms I don't tell anyone because people think it is just all in my head (even though I have had pahysical reactions), and I just lie down for a few hours and I feel better.
Whats REALLY puzzling is that I have had this reaction even if I wasnt around water - if I was drinking too much pop or too much beer. It has happened if I was at a bar with my friends (I drank 1 or 2 beers and wasn't close to being intoxicated) and I spent the rest of the evening trying to breathe at the bar before gagging for air in the car/cab ride home, and then trying to run to my bed to lie down so I can breathe again.
I need some help and advice about what to do and what this might be.