Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Help please - Periods of breathlessness but no other symptoms

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 0 Replies
  • Posted By: SmilerUK
  • April 2, 2008
  • 00:49 AM

Anyone want to have a go at this one for me?

My mother is in her late 60s in generally good health bar coughs and colds and a nagging hip. Pretty average really. She's 5 feet tall and has always been a medium build. She's never smoked in her life. My father died unexpectedly 11 years ago which rather knocked her for six for several years. Since then she's moved from my end of the country back the house she was born in at the other end of the country.

A year ago she was diagnosed with polymyalgia and put on steriods with the dose guided by her ESR level. Doc reckons she'll be on them for another year until the infection had cleared. One of the side effects of the treatment is that she's put on weight; not a huge amount, but enough to have to buy more clothes and be conscience of the difference.

She's now complaining about breathlessness. She says it's been getting worse for the past 2 and a half years so I'm ruling out it as being a side effect of the steroids. She has no pain and she's fine sitting, but if she does something she gets out of breath far more easily than she should. For instance it comes on when trying to walk to the local shop and comes on when walking from one side of the house to the other to anser the phone. She's been back and forth to the doc: blood oxygen at 98%, chest x-ray revealed nothing, echocardiagram didn't show up any abnormal heart function, and a spell on a treadmill thing whilst wired up to an ECG didn't show any unpredictable electrical activity.

The lack of a clear diagnosis does play on her mind. She said to me this evening that she couldn't think straight and plan from one day to the next. (Annoys me since I'm trying to arrange to have her FedEx'ed to me for a few days to attend my wedding but I don't want to pressure her if she has health worries. She'll have to come by train since she's scared of flying, and doesn't like travelling on her own.)

For the past couple of weeks she's been getting over a cough and still sounds a bit croaky on the phone. The cough is still bad enough to disturb her sleep at night so she sometimes doses during the day which she hates because then she can't get to sleep at night. I'm sure you see her frustration.

She heard on the radio last week that breathlessness is a symptom of cancer, and one of her close school friends died of stomach cancer last month. Tomorrow she's back to the doc to talk to him about the possibility of it being cancer now.

Has anyone seen or experienced anthing similar? And has anyone got some pointers for a diagnosis? Or a treatment?

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