I am a 20-year-old female who suddenly developed shortness of breath six months ago. Basically, one morning I woke up and I couldn’t do most activities without getting short of breath. Prior to this I was a college student taking a karate class two days a week and walking everywhere I needed to go. Afterwards, I could not walk at a slow pace for more than ten minutes without getting short of breath or read a textbook for more than five minutes without the same thing happening. Basically, after a certain amount of very simple exertion, I feel short of breath. When I get short of breath, it also becomes hard to think clearly and sometimes I have pain in my chest when it gets really bad. It goes away very quickly after I lie down or stop doing the activity. While lying down, shortness of breath does not present itself at all.
This condition has been exactly the same for the past six months and although I take walks every day, my endurance does not go up. The shortness of breath and inability to think clearly are so bad that I have had to drop out of college and return home to have my parents take care of me.
In the space of the last six months I have had multiple chest x-rays, multiple EKGs, blood tests, a CT lung scan, multiple spirometry tests, two echocardiograms, a VQ lung scan, an ENT throat exam, a heart catheterization, a heart shunt study, a “bubble” test, allergy tests, a heavy metal urinalysis, an asthma test, a neurologist tested muscle function test, my lungs tested with exercise and an arterial line, genetic blood testing, an MRI or my head and neck, a sniff test, an EMG test, an echo of my diaphragm, an exercise test, and a muscle biopsy.
All of those tests came back normal with the exception of the second exercise test which showed my VO2 level to be much lower than it should have been (58%). I do not have asthma and I am mildly allergic to oak trees and certain types of mold. Two months prior to getting sick, I had moved to Utah to attend school, but I normally live in North Carolina, which I moved back to two weeks after getting sick. I had also been in Utah the previous year for school.
I have never smoked, used drugs, or drunk alcohol. I was not exposed to smoking often either now or as a child.
There is no family history of anything similar to what I have. I am normal weight for my height and do not have diabetes. Prior to getting sick, there had been a few times when I found it hard to breathe when I was under physical and mental stress in the two months before, but each time it went away quickly after lying down and did not return. At the time, it was thought that I had adult-onset asthma, but that has since been proven false.
If anyone has any idea what this could be, at all, I would be very grateful to hear it. I would love to hear from anyone going through anything similar as well. Thanks.
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