Difficulty getting my breath upon exertion: What could it be?
My pulmonologist said I have mild asthma and mild COPD but doesn’t feel it is the cause of it. My cardiologist did an echo which showed moderate/severe calcification of the aortic valve with mild/moderate regurgitation and a thallium stress test and there was no change over two years. I have complained for two years with this symptom and gone back and forth between both doctors, both saying it’s the other problem. Pulmonologist saying it’s the heart and cardiologist saying it’s the lungs! So now I struggle on. Can’t afford to go elsewhere.
Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Lung Health Support Group.
@twitt99707 I do have asthma. Mine is the "e asthma" or allergic type named for the eosinophils that are a type of white blood cells that are part of the immune system. This makes my asthma worse when my allergies flare up.
I use air filters in my home that have HEPA and carbon filtration which help a lot. The allergies cause phlegm which blocks oxygen absorption in my lungs, and when allergies are bad or it progresses to a bacterial infection because phlegm isn't clearing, my heart rate goes up.
Honestly, both a heart problem and a lung problem can play into shortness or breath because they affect each other. Both heart and lungs have a degree of compromise because of your conditions and have lost efficiency in doing their jobs. It doesn't have to be only one issue being responsible for your symptoms or more at fault. Hopefully each specialist is treating you for your best outcome regardless of the finger pointing.
I know for me, part of my lung issues that are related to excess phlegm are physical issues of tightness, so my chest doesn't expand as well on one side because of a condition I have called thoracic outlet syndrome. If the chest wall doesn't move enough, the lungs don't move enough with each breath, so phlegm movement slows down. Allergies are producing too much of it trying to flush out the irritants, and it's like a slow moving muddy river. Often that can progress to a chest infection. My clue that this is happened is when I notice my resting heart rate go up.
I have also had excess phlegm production because of metals in my body causing an immune response. I know this because of improvements to lung function when the metals were removed and my breathing got so much better because there was less phlegm. The metals that were removed at different times were old dental work that was replaced with ceramic dental implants and teeth (no metals), and titanium plates from a fractured ankle that were later removed. I can manage my allergies to reduce my asthma. I know that exercise like walking that gets me breathing deeper helps me breathe better all the time and helps my heart too.
If you haven't looked at the Lung function groups here on Connect, you may want to do this as you can learn a lot. Here is a discussion that may be helpful:
Lung Health – "Mysterious shortness of breath: What has helped you?"
Have you consulted a physical therapist? They can do an assessment to see if you have any physical issues like me that could be interfering with the mechanics of breathing. Have you considered using HEPA filters in your home?
I do use HEPA filters and I also use those CLARiiON plug-ins that help but you did say something about the chest movement and I have had triple bypass and my body is trying to destroy the wires and I have decreased bone density there because of it in my breast plate is moving I see the doctor next Monday and hopefully they’ll consider that it’s the breast plate that is causing my breathing problems. You said you got all the metal out of your body. I have a titanium shoulder and a defibrillator in my chest. Sure hope that’s not causing all this phlegm. Your input has really helped me a lot. Thank you .
@twitt99707 My dad had a defibrillator and that was just lower than his collar bone. I don't know if your doctors will consider immune responses to metals if they are main stream doctors as a cause of excess phlegm but it does happen. I used to get a chest infection every 6 weeks from this and getting the metal out stopped that cycle. I had 3 months of being metal free after removal of dental work, and then I broke my ankle, and the extra phlegm returned along with chronic hives that covered my arm or thigh as a huge itchy patch after I had titanium plates. I had to be on antihistamines all the time or else I couldn't stand it. Then removing the plates made me better again and I'm lucky I could make that choice. You can look at this website which is the original practice from the doctor that began the field of Environmental Medicine. They do treat people for reactions to surgical implants. That might help you live better with it if it is bothering you. I know of this practice from one of my doctors, but I have not been a patient there.
Environmental Health Center Dallas
This lab tests for immune responses to implants, but you may not need to do that.
It is expensive and likely not covered by insurance. I did this before my spine surgery, and it showed no reactions. I ended up doing spine surgery without hardware, but I did develop a response to titanium plates 6 months after my ankle surgery. The doctor didn't believe it was the metal causing the constant hives, but it all resolved after the plates were removed.
This Environmental Medicine field also has a provider search at this website.
You might also want to look for a physical therapist who does myofascial release which is a special training in methods from John Barnes. There is a provider search for this at http://mfrtherapists.com/ It may help if you can move better.
I put a lot of information at the beginning of this discussion on Myofascial Release, so you may want to look. That may help get your chest wall moving better if there are fascial restrictions or tightness interfering, and that may be from scar tissue from your surgery. That can link to other tight patterns that you might have. My PT helped me lot with this. My tight pattern extends from one side of my neck and jaw, through the rib cage to one side of my pelvis which can pull it out of alignment, and pull it forward. It interferes with the respiratory diaphragm between the hips and pelvis. If I can move all that better, I can take a slow deeper breath.
_ Neuropathy – "Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR) for treating compression and pain"
I hope you find an answer that helps you feel better.
I’m 78 and on social security so any treatment would have to be covered by Medicare. I will talk to my doctor about therapy and see what he says. They did say something about taking out the metal wires in my chest but it would cause a lot of tissue rebuild to hold the breast plate together. Not sure I could go that route because I do have a bad heart also. Almost too old to do anything now. Thank you for the information though at least I have some routes to research.
@twitt99707, I have moved your question to the Lung Health support group and the Heart & Blood Health support group so you can connect easily with others with heart and lung issues.
I've been bounced around like yourself for years. In the end it has turned out to have been liver issues in my case. It's surprising how bad a lot of doctors are at understanding test results.