Dear Ask The Doctor: Although I am aware of panic attacks, I have them often, I am not sure about this. My panic attacks are full blown and last for hours. Lately, I have had no symptoms of panic, except I am having trouble breathing. My chest will feel tight, and when I breathe through my nose, it feels like I am not getting enough air. I can, however, take deep breaths through my mouth. I do not have allergies or a cold, and even through my mouth, the breaths still make my chest tight. Also, when this happens, my hands will turn bright red, and feel like they are so swollen they are about to explode, although they are not swollen , only red. I also have pain under my left ribcage, but not terrible pain. My blood pressure, now as it is happening is 128,71 pulse 97. I am a female 5ft 7in 120lbs. No health issues, and I smoke about 3,4 pack of ciggarettes a day.My question is, Is this likely caused by anxiety, or should I be concerned enough to see a doctor.
Dear Amber: By definition a panic attack is a discrete period of intense terror or discomfort in which specific symptoms develop abruptly and reach a peak within 10 minutes. These symptoms range from shortness of breath, chest pain, chills, choking sensation to fear of dying, losing control or going crazy. Therefore if your symptoms are lasting hours, they cannot be secondary to a panic attack. Your symptoms could be secondary to bronchospasm either from environmental triggers, allergies or cigarette smoke, or a simple infection of the respiratory tract. I would advise attending your family physician for a detailed history of your symptoms, physical examination to determine a diagnosis in your case..