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Molly Maloof, MD

Director of Clinical Content

Breathing Problems

I have been cleared for asthma, vocal chord problems, and a chest x-ray came back clear as well. But I still can not breathe, a flight of stairs winds me, and I feel short of breathe when I lay down room. I also have a cough that is like a bark, and is very dry. Why is this happening? And what is the next place I should visit?
  • Female | 18 years old
  • Complaint duration: 90 days
  • Medications: Birth Control, ventolin, flowvent
  • Conditions: Depression, anxiety, low blood pressure

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Featured Answer

1 UpVoted this answer
I note this post is older, but still active, so.... Birth control can increase risk for blood clots in the lungs, especially if you smoke. A blood test called a D-dimer, and sometimes a CT of the chest, can help assess for this. Sometimes heart problems (inflammation of the lining of the heart, or heart valve problems) can cause symptoms like yours. An echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) can help assess for this. You mention you've been "cleared" for asthma - a pulmonary function test (PFT) can be done for this, and sometimes a special type of PFT needs to be done. Anemia, anxiety, thyroid issues, and other things can also cause symptoms like yours. A primary care doctor should be able to take most steps; plus-minus an Ear Nose and Throat specialist and/or a Pulmonologist (lung specialist).
Tristram Hill
A few things need to done to have a better idea of what may be going on. You need a pulmonary function test (breathing test) by a lung specialist and also need a ultrasound of your heart(2D echo) to evaluate your heart function. The Echo would evaluate your heart function, valves of your heart and shed some light into why you get short of breath with activity and when you lay down. If all this comes back normal then a CT of your Chest would be needed. If Ct chest is normal then evaluation for acid reflux would be my next evaluation which could cause spasms of your bronchus from irritation by the acid. Hopefully you have a primary care physician that you are seeing who can direct you the the appropriate care and follow-up. Hope this helps.
I see that you are on birth control. Keep in mind that your depression is a known side effect of birth control, which completely messes up your natural hormones, and can also cause low libido, increased risk of certain cancers, and thyroid problems like weight gain and hair loss. Sometimes hormone issues that cause women to try birth control can also cause a condition called Lupus. It has some lung issues like the ones you are describing. Ask your doctor to rule that out for you.
Shortness of breath always has a cause. It could be lungs, heart , anemia etc. Given your birth control history you have to consider serious things like a possible blood clot as well....I would ask your doctor to order a cardiac echo because if you have some heart trouble with one of your heart valves its hard to figure that out without that test..

Keep looking. Good luck
I did have a breathing test, the doctor said my inhaling skills we not as developed as they should be but being only 18, I don't know where to go from there. I haven't visited a pulmonologist yet, I didn't know if I needed to.
You may have exercise induced asthma , your anxiety may also be a cause. A visit with a lung specialist to do a breathing test under different conditions is a good start.
Acute allergic exacerbation of your asthma or possibly pertussis (whooping cough). Persistent cough x 2 weeks is a significant issue. Other possibilities are also concerning. You need your Family physician or Asthma/allergist/pulmonology to take a look, spirometry, xrays and listen.
These symptoms are unusual in a young female, but can be related to allergic reactions, infections of the upper respiratory system, anxiety, overuse of inhalers and other conditions that do not show up on Chest Xray. I suggest a visit to your pulmonologist.