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Feeling of smothering and lack of air unrelated to excercise, often worst at night

Since early 2015 I have experienced a feeling I would describe as a sensation of smothering or lack of air that comes and goes, sometimes gone for 6 months or longer. I don't cough much of need to take heaving breaths or have racing heart, it's more a feeling I cannot take deep enough breaths in. Excercise does not seem to be any issue at all and can even alleviate it. Usually worse in winter, often wakes me at night. . I excercise regularly, mostly long walks, cycling and swimming (precovid) and resistance train regularly and can do a 10mile bike ride up and down muddy hills and am okay (yes that's always hard work but my breathing is okay)

I have had Lung function tests. bloods, Spiro, echocardiograms, xray, ecg, ecg 48 hour monitor, even an implant in my chest for a year to monitor my heart for any abnormal rhythms that uploaded every night to the hospital. Also seen an ENT who did allergy tests and had a camera up my nose and camera down throat to check for Gerd (told mild acid reflux and took lanzoprasol for a year and no notable reduction in symptoms) All normal. Fed up so paying privately now in 2021 to see a well regarded respitory specialist and have a whatever scans/ tests deemed appropriate. I will update you.

Part of the reason for the tests on heart is that I had an ablation for AF in 2014. But one NHS and two private cardiologists having reviewed all tests said heart if now fine and nothing showing on tests at all warranting further investigations. I will admit I found the ablation traumatic, 3 hours awake on a table while my heart was a lated was very painful and not fun. The breathing issues came on follow g the ablation but again loads of tests and both the hospital and I dependents saying its not this

Keep being told its anxiety, wanting to rule out physical causes by having more and probably some repeat tests. And yes, I feel anxious, but I am anxious because because I wake at night feeling suffocated, don't sleep well, usually 5 to 6 hours and have the same suffocating  feeling at times during day, and excercise seems to improve it!! The only things fou d was fatty liver which was classed as mild after firborscan, ultrasound and bloods (which had now normalised after dropping 3 stone) acid reflux which is controlled (I think). I also had thyroid test and told I was 12.1 on a scale of 12 to 24 so close to hypo but told this is still OK. Wondering if anyone else has similar and can shed any light on this.
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Avatar universal
I mean, can't say I know, but if you can do that kind of exercise it's not a problem with your organs, right?  If it was your heart and you're doing such intensive training, I would figure it would have resulted in something traumatic by now.  So a question:  you say you have anxiety, but only because of this, but is that really true?  Think hard, were you an anxious person before this started, did anything happen around the time it started that might have triggered anxiety, do you regularly think anxious thoughts that are irrational?  If you don't think anxious thoughts, it's probably not anxiety, but sometimes we're really good at suppressing stuff and in your case maybe it comes out when your guard is down while you're sleeping.  Again, I can't tell you this is happening.  Just suggesting ways of looking at your life to see if it might indeed be anxiety because it is quite odd it would only happen while you're sleeping and not while you're exercising your butt off it were a true breathing problem.  
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Turns out GP lung function tests not as comprehensive as hospital specialist respitory Centre, lung function and nitric oxide tests and dye injected CT scan of lungs and upper chest ordered by specialist consultant and turns out I have asthma.. I haller helped a lot... so conclusion is that GP tests and not sufficient to be certain and I ended up having to pay via private consultant to get accurate assessment and GP telling me 6 years of anxiety was wrong.. its asthma.. everyone is different but based on my experience... get tests done either pay or push GP to conclusively determine the cause and rule other things out.. UK GPS tend to rely on assumptions a lot.. no disrespect for GPS, its a hard job, its more the culture of the UK Healthcare service which is fast becoming one of the worst in developed nations (been to UAE, India and France and had so much better care
Avatar universal
I am diagnosed with anxiety and I'm feeling the same kind of thing like you, feeling like I can't get a deep breath, wondering if my oxygen level is high enough. You should ask them to check your blood ox level because it might reassure you to know you are actually getting enough oxygen while you breathe. Mine was at 98% which is very good. Even though I know this now i still feel anxious about the fact that I feel like I can't breathe at times and it's unrelated to anything that is happening that would cause me to have anxiety, i feel like there should be a better answer for this, but what if I'm not happy with the answers I'm getting? I don't know
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Hi, my oxygen level was 100% when I saw a specilist. I await scans and tests privately as gp not been keen to test but to assume anxiety. the specilist has put me on a brown inhaler and said he suspects mild asthma. In the few weeks I have been on the brown inhaler I have slept better than I have in years. Too early to tell and subject to tests which I hate and worry about so will see, but the fact I am sleeping better and had notably less symptoms in last few weeks suggest the inhaler helping. too early to tell though as sometimes I feel fine for months before it comes on albeit I usually suffer in winter and spring more than summer and autumn! I suggest you get checked for Ast as I clude proper test when you are stuck in a large box to breathe
.. meant to say checked for asthma!
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